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Free Agency Primer

Here's a little Monday morning reading to get you ready for the big week ahead.

From the CP:

Is this the last week in the Buffalo Sabres careers of Chris Drury and Daniel Briere? Does Scott Gomez have seven days left as a New Jersey Devil? Was Ryan Smyth simply a rental with the New York Islanders? Has Sheldon Souray taken his last blast from the point for the Montreal Canadiens?
Big decisions lie ahead this week as the start of the July 1 free agency looms. The flood gates open at noon ET next Sunday.
"I expect the first two or three days in July to be pretty wild," said Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland.

There's lots more here.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  June 25, 2007; 5:42 AM ET
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Next: Qualifying Offers Have Been Made


Should be very interesting to see which of the rumours are "true". I'm just keeping my fingers crossed as far as the Caps go.

Posted by: Melissa | June 25, 2007 7:21 AM | Report abuse

If we're supposed to be so active in the free agent market, why aren't we even mentioned as a team that's looking to add any of these players? Maybe it's because we're not going to add anyone. Would it surprise you to see GMGM not add any of the high priced players? Do you really think Scott Gomex, Briere, Drury, Souray or even Rafalski will be a cap? I don't... I think they will add some players, but it's not going to be anyone super well known. Then you'll see an article blowing smoke that we added very good players who will take us to the playoffs. My prediction.... a couple of 3rd and 4th line defensemen and maybe a 2nd line center. That's it. I've just been around the caps far too long to believe any of the hype. "change is coming..." Yea, we're going to finish 4th in the southeast division and not 5th. And then the record will continue to play next season.

Posted by: Travis aka Realist | June 25, 2007 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Who do you think we will be better than in the Southeast?

Posted by: realist II | June 25, 2007 10:21 AM | Report abuse

The Caps aren't expected to be active in pursuing top tier free agents. They've said it repeatedly, GMGM and Leonsis expect the improvement to be made through trades. Unfortunately, as they found out this past weekend, it takes two to make a trade.

Posted by: Jay | June 25, 2007 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Interesting article. Looks like Danny Markov might be a good target for McPhee. He could pair up with one of the steady young puck moving defensemen, like Green or Emminger. That would leave Jurcina and Morrisonn to pair up as they did last season. Markov could also help with mentoring the Russians. We shall see.

Posted by: Vikes-Bearcats-Gators | June 25, 2007 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Realist makes a good point - it bugs me too that the Caps are NEVER mentioned as pursuing any of these free agents. Why should we let the Flyers land all the talent?

Posted by: tokyo fan | June 25, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse

We also know that GMGM doesn't really talk about plans. The last couple of years the Caps haven't signed anyone of note, and because until the 1st of July you can't talk to any of the UFA's why WOULD the Caps be mentioned as a potentially FA player? It's quite possible the Caps won't sign anyone of note, but the Caps are rarely mentioned in rumors. Until the Caps show they are going to spend money they won't be considered a buyer, and thus won't be listed in FA rumors very often.

Posted by: Jeff | June 25, 2007 12:42 PM | Report abuse

I am sure we'll stick to the strategy of looking for teams who are against the cap and pick up one of their guys for a 3rd round pick. Then when we fall out of the playoff race we'll trade him for a 2nd round pick and make a profit. Cause you know those 2nd round picks are going to be important in next season's draft. That's Capital trading at its finest!

Posted by: Larry | June 25, 2007 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Seems like some people have skewed realities.

-The article mentions 5 teams that need to re-sign or lose players: Sabres, Devils, Isles, Habs, and Red Wings

-1 team that 'says' they won't be involved in FA: Canucks

-3 teams that are speculated to be interested: Flames, Leafs, and Canes

That leaves a whopping 21 teams not mentioned.

The reality is some people will take any opportunity to get their panties in a bunch.

Posted by: slappy | June 25, 2007 2:46 PM | Report abuse

I'd rather we not be mentioned. With rare exception, usually it's the teams not mentioned that pull off the big stuff. For example, Philly was supposed to be the leader in the Drury/Briere sweepstakes. But what did they do? Grab the rights and overpaid for two good players-- completely out of the blue. But neither were Briere or Drury (though it could still happen, for sure). Let's hope we're pleasantly surprised.

Posted by: GJ | June 25, 2007 2:54 PM | Report abuse

If there's one thing GMGM is good at, it's not saying anything and letting people think whatever they want to think.

He let the entire hockey world think that he was going with Cherapanov, which he never said he was, and snatched Alzner. I'll bet there were a couple of teams under us gnashing their teeth over that move. He's a stay-at-home D-man who is nearly NHL ready and often compared to Wade Redden and Nicklas Lidstrom. On top of it all, he has a great personality and a good head on his shoulders. He'll be a good voice in the locker room, mark my words. Great pickup.

UFA's are nice, but they're overpriced. GMGM and Ted have been burned by big contracts before (it's why we've been in this mess for the last 3 years) and they're going to be responsible about it. The Caps have enough trade fodder to make a pretty good splash without losing the core of the team, such as it is.

Someone asked why Philly gets all the big name guys. Where has that gotten Philly? They were one of the few teams out there worse off than the Caps last year. All their bluster has gotten them nowhere as they've "Redskinned" themselves into mediocrity. At least we're not blowing too much cash, and more to the point, at least we have some semblance of a plan.

Posted by: HolyOlie | June 25, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I am pretty sure we won't sign anyone who will make a big impact and we won't be able to land someone like that in trade.

Trading down for more second round picks sends pretty clear signals to me that this "rebuild" is in no great hurry.

Posted by: Sapper | June 25, 2007 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Since I think that the NHL will probably be in existence a couple of more years, I don't mind waiting for Ovechkin, Semin, Backstrom, Fehr, Gordon, Sutherby, Morrison, Green, Schultz, Eminger, Jurcina, Varlamov and Alzner to develop one or 2 years more. Which one of these players is in their prime?
2 years will be worth the wait (provided we get a REAL coach before then, no disrepect to Glenny but this ain't the AHL).

Posted by: caps1 | June 25, 2007 4:32 PM | Report abuse

caps1, I think we've waited long enough. Three straight seasons in last place? Yup. That's long enough for me.

Also, with unrestricted free agency starting at age 27 under the new CBA, teams can't rebuild the slow way anymore.

Posted by: Sapper | June 25, 2007 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Sapper, we're conducting a complete rebuild of the Caps player pool. I want to get back to the playoffs as much as any other fan. I don't think caps1 is suggesting we suck for 2 years straight while adding nothing. Rather we have a potentially excellent nucleus built from within that won't mortgage our future.

The team will add 1-2 pieces. If Drury or Gomez are commanding 7+ mil then they won't be coming here. We want to avoid the Flyers /Redskins way of business here and aim more for a Sens/Red Wings/what used to be the Caps way of having a team going to the playoffs every year with the potential to get back to the Cup and win it this time.

Not just enough to show up to the party, throw up on ourselves and then see our girlfriend leave us in shame. Yes, Ovie is the girlfriend in this scenario. My apologies, Alex.

Posted by: Shmoo | June 25, 2007 5:40 PM | Report abuse

For all the talk about UFA's that is brewing, and why the Caps aren't mentioned, lets take a look at who they have coming up and ready to play.

Last years first round draft Nikolas Backstrom, who is a better fit as a second line center. Novotny, who we acquired fromt the Zubrus trade played well at the end of the season. And finally, now Alzner, a guy who could hopefully be a Cap for a long-time and a solid stay at home defender.

Now with those 3 mentioned above, when you think about it all we really need is 2 or 3 guys. They don't have to be big names, but consistant guys, who can complement the likes of the Alex's. And Zubrus is a free-agent, so why not re-sign him, and add a nice playmaking rw? Then make a serious push for a scoring veteran defensemen. But in all honesty, the real problem lies in between the posts. Don't get me wrong, i love Kolzig, but he has never really lived up to the hype that he gets. He is at best a good goal tender with flashes of brilliance. And with all of the goalies in our pipe line, and the availability of proven starters why not make a push for a goalie.

Just think of this years Cup Champions, the Ducks, besides Selanne, who else did they have that was a big name O-liner (go ahead and try to name one), but look at their D-Line, Pronger, Neidemayer, Beauchemin, and a stellar goalie.

So while I would love to add Drury, more than anyone else on the list, the real problem is that since the departure of Gonchar, we haven't had a D-liner who commanded the respect that he got, and not to mention the loss of one of my all time favorite Caps, B. Witt, we lost that intimidation factor that the Caps of the old days had.

In a nut shell...solid D-line, and goalie will complement the team so much better, and that will lead to wins.


Posted by: digis | June 25, 2007 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Until Tarik gets a topic up I'll address this here.

Caps qualified the following RFAs by today's 5 p.m. deadline (in my order of importance):

Jamie Hunt

These guys are now UFAs having not received a qualifying offer from the Caps:

Max Daigneault
Jonas Johansson
Jiri Novotny
Kris Beech
Louis Robitaille
Joey Tenute
Trevor Byrne
Matt Stefanishion

all still have solid potential

Eminger/Erskine (solid 7th)/Sutherby/Klepis
are all trade bait or small role players

Guess Max 2 worked out about as well as Max 1 or his qualifying offer would be higher than we're willing to be stuck with and we could re-sign? Or this is a great sign that one of the other G's is ready to make the leap to AHL duty and start chasing Brent Johnson outta here.

Novotny not a surprise since he was completely worthless in a position we have 10 other guys ready to play. Beech...thank goodness. His time is up as a space-filler.

Robitaille and Johansson yet two more prospects who never accomplished squat in our organization. Sigh.

Posted by: Shmoo | June 25, 2007 5:52 PM | Report abuse

predictions for centers in free agency.

Gomez: Philly or Colorado
Drury: San Jose
Brier: Rangers
Nylander: Rangers or Flyers
Caps: Comrie or Kozlov

Posted by: 1998revival | June 25, 2007 9:07 PM | Report abuse


Very interesting point of views. But I want everyone to know that because of what I said earlier, doesn't mean I don't want what's best for this team. I like our young core guys. It worked for Buffalo and hopefully it'll work for us. But I don't want the caps to overhaul the whole team, I just want them to acquire 2 top tier FA's. They need a top line center and they need a top tier D'man. That's just 2 players to totally change this team. I think Drury is worth EVERY penny of $7mil/season and I think we can acquire a top tier D man for $5-6/season. I think Gomez is an outstanding player, but is he really a team leader? Drury makes his teams better (see Colorado, Calgary and now Buffalo). If you mix him between Ovie and Clark, that's a great line. Semin centered by Backstrom will be exciting. And we can still see the development of guys like Fehr, Fleishman, Laich, M. Green and so forth.... We just need leadership and depth. We are going to be a better team if we make a splash. Spend the money. Simple as that....

Posted by: Travis aka Realist | June 26, 2007 1:12 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 10:48 PM | Report abuse

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