Sunday, July 31, 2005


The Post Lockout Twilight Zone

So what exactly is happening right now?

When the lockout ended we entered the period to qualify your own players, and basically get your own house in order. But something happened on the way to the draft. And to try and follow it requires a couple drinks and a degree in Psych. First off, we all anticipated great amounts of buy-outs that never came. And the ones that did come came very late in the game. Only the Flyers apparently cared enough about their players (LeClair and Amonte) to give them the most time they could to prepare for a new home.

That would be odd enough, but not nearly as odd as when you consider the number of RFA players that are not qualified yet. I have had players calling me all day today asking me "What are you hearing about me? The team won't even give me a clue." Agents are being put in the spot, while trying to calm confused players, unaware of whether or not they are going to be qualified. It really is insane how little actually happened in this week that passed. When you consider the teams had months to prepare for this. One source said this, "They can't use the excuse they didn't know the CBA. It has been give or take a few million for months." Another agent went as far to say, "I think the atmosphere is completely confused and several of these GMS are (in over their heads)." On player added, "It almost feels like payback for the lockout. We have called and said, 'cut us loose for crying out loud.' and they say, 'we'll call you' or if we're lucky 'we really don't know what we are doing yet.' "

Now sure, it is your responsibility as a GM to see what is out ther to improve your team, but one agent said this, "everyone is getting Khabibulin and Neidermayer. so everyone is hedging. problem is that those guys are only going to one team and likely not even moving to a new team. so what you will have is all these unqualified free agents and teams are all thinking they will just be able to get them back. not so fast." And the guys who are getting qualified are being asked to take less money. The common mantra being revenues will be less next year. "If you take your qualifier you have to give them a couple more years." an agent added.

While I wrote this article another player, arguably one of the best at his position, instant messaged me claiming he has yet to talk to anyone from the team he played for. He said he gets the impression that the team "doesn't have a clue which way is up."

That brings us to today and the draft. Bobby Ryan, a great player, but the #2 pick was picked by a team dying for young defensive help? Jack Johnson was on the knew he would be for ever. And Burke goes on TSN and claims to have only seen films of Ryan. Granted he is trusting his scouts, and the Ducks have great ones, but this is the #2 pick. This is not a 6th round guy. Ryan is a top 7 guy by all accounts, and a great fit for the Wild at 4, but the Canaucks makes absolutely no sense. Unless....he is going for the "win now" score and he really felt he could get Gagne or Handzus plus Seidenberg from Philly. They really want Ryan. That would make a bunch of sense...but now, he is saying the offer is way too low...he has painted himself into a corner and Clarke may be able to get Ryan for less...Just speculation.

Then Montreal...skipping past an amazing kid in Gilbert Brule( a guy I thought would be off the board by Montreal) and snagging Price, a great goalie prospect, but the Habs have goalies for years to come. Then I talked to a source who said Montreal was told to pick up Price to move him as a part of a trade...but that trade never least not yet.

That brings us to the Blues. A team who qualified TOO many people. Chris Pronger sweepstakes are still ongoing at this hour according to my source, but the Blues need to move him today to get the most for him. Then we hear rumors that Forsberg and Foote are coming back to Colorado, but young studs Hedjuk and Tanguay aren't? Naslund must be going to Colorado to make any sense of that one. Forsberg is amazing, a real favorite of yours truly, but he is an injury risk. Tanguay and Hedjuk are young All-Stars. I will following the dirt on those two in the coming week, I promise...Even a rumor surfaced that Sundin might be getting moved today leaving one agent to say to me, "Maybe the CBA has them drunk still." And Bertuzzi to the Canadiens? That is a hot one tonight...How about Demitra to the Oilers?

Another source predicted the following, "What you are looking at is a canvas and everyone is afraid to paint the first stroke. Once someone does you will see so many moves your head will spin. The problem is to make this work you need to target guys...but they are all targeting the same guys, and if they try and wait each other out too long there will be teams that will implode. Some of these GMs can handle assembling a team in 48 hours, but some can't."

So here we are. With everyone thinking they will be able to put together teams from almost scratch. What a week we have coming up. I really don't think the guys that aren't qualified will just sit around and wait for the calls welcoming them back for less...

Looks like I will get zero sleep this week. At least they moved the start of the Free Agent Frenzy ( a name I should have copy written) to noon on Monday. They will need those extra 12 hours.


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