It is happening later than usual, but this is the annual open post for the beginning of the NHL’s free agency period. This year’s Free Agent Frenzy could be the most difficult one in recent history. The salary cap has remained flat at $81.5 million. The cap may stay flat Due to a lack of revenue for teams, many teams have internal budgets set below the salary cap. There is no league-allowed discussion period between pending free agents and teams. The first buyout window ended yesterday and qualifying offers were due at 5 PM on Wednesday, during the 2020 NHL Draft. It is unknown whether the NHL will have a full 2020-21 season that starts on January 1, 2020; a partial 2020-21 season that starts on January 1, 2020; or even a season of some length that starts after January 1, 2020. Teams absolutely want to make moves to make their team better, but there are a lot more restrictions and concerns that were not present in past seasons. Free agent players may need to accept less than what they may have expected last year, aim for backloaded deals, or work through what could be a volatile market.
The first day of free agency is called Free Agent Frenzy as so many contracts are done on the first day. This year’s frenzy may be more frantic than ever. Or less. Or drawn out beyond the first day. In 2020, who really knows? Would you be surprised either way?
The Time: Noon. News will likely start in the morning about expected deals and trades. But no one can officially sign anything until noon today.
The Broadcasts: The NHL Network and TSN should have something on throughout the day.
The Preview: Gerard wrote a last minute primer for free agency yesterday. I highly recommend that you read it. It does reflect on the players who were not qualified on Wednesday, which include some surprises that could (should?) interest the Devils like Anthony Duclair, Dominik Kahun, and Troy Stecher. Since that post went up, the Devils made two significant moves. One, they placed Cory Schneider on unconditional waivers for the purposes of buying his contract out. Two, they traded a fifth round pick in 2021 to Columbus for defenseman Ryan Murray. What this means is that the Devils really need to get another goaltender to backup and support Mackenzie Blackwood; and that they do not need as much help on defense barring further moves. They may want to anyway, but the left side is not as thin as it was 48 hours ago. The need for a veteran winger is still present.
The Current Cap Situation: According to CapFriendly, the buyout of Schneider plus the acquisition of Murray means the Devils have roughly $55.8 million committed for next season with 13 players signed for New Jersey and 35 players with NHL contracts. This means they have about $25.65 million in cap space. They are also roughly $4.34 million below the salary cap floor right now. Restricted free agents Mackenzie Blackwood, Jesper Bratt, Joey Anderson, Nick Merkley, and Colton White have been given qualifying offers. Re-signing them should make up that gap to the floor, but New Jersey has a lot of cap and roster space to maneuver for today.
The Purpose of the Post: This is where you should comment about all of the moves made today in free agency. The moves the Devils made. The moves you wish the Devils made. The moves other teams in the NHL made. This is an open post for all of that. React as you see fit as long as you follow the rules.
The Plan for this Site: We will do our best to get posts up for major signings by the Devils. Minor signings may be lumped in together. I will have a summary of the first day’s activities in the evening when the news slows down.
The Songs for the Day: First, given the recent passing of the legendary Eddie Van Halen, it is only fitting to reference a song featuring one of his many legendary riffs. From Fair Warning, this is “Unchained.”
Second, a song kind of about about money with a fun riff. From their 2016 album, OK, this is “401k” by The Fall of Troy.
The Rules: As a reminder, comments will be clean, on topic, and respectful of each other.
Here is one that specifically important for today: Please, please, please do not share unconfirmed rumors and “news” from false sources like fake Twitter accounts, “insiderrs,” a “rumor breaker,” an incarcerated Robert, people who claim to have sources and not even have 100 followers on Twitter, etc. Please stick to people who may actually know things. People like Elliotte Friedman, Renaud Lavoie, Darren Dreger, Pierre LeBrun, actual beat reporters that work for actual news sources, etc. There’s going to be a lot going on, especially once noon hits. There’s no need to cause confusion of actual news by getting people riled up about something that someone made up or claimed to have a source that does not exist. For the benefit of everyone, please link to legit sources and don’t make things up. Being right is more important than being first.
That all said. Enjoy this year’s Free Agency Frenzy. It’s the first where Tom Fitzgerald will be taking the lead for it as the Devils’ GM. Best of luck to him as he tries to set the Devils up for a successful future.