NHL veterans feeling the squeeze this offseason
On July 31, Scott Gomez signed a one-year contract with the Florida Panthers. Two weeks earlier, Dustin Penner came to terms on a one-year deal with the Anaheim Ducks. A week before that, Marek Zidlicky re-signed in New Jersey for one season. Five days before that, Derek Roy signed a one-year contract with the Blues.
Those four players, all of them over 30, remained on the market after the dust settled on free-agent frenzy day and still managed to find work for next season. They weren't able to secure term, but at least they will have work for next season.
Many of their fellow free-agents haven't been so lucky.
"You know anyone that's hiring?" veteran defenceman Hal Gill quipped to reporters in Toronto on Monday when asked about his plans for training camp.
"I would've liked to continue my career in the NHL but under the circumstances this is not happening this year," veteran centerman Nikolai Antropov said to Sportsnet 590 the Fan on Tuesday morning, "So i'm going home (to the KHL) and we'll see what happens next year..."
With the salary-cap descending for this upcoming season, it's the "middle-class" of non-star veteran players who are feeling the squeeze.
"The tough part for players caught in his position is that there’s a lot of supply and not much demand, and their bargaining position is fairly weak, particularly after a buyout," wrote Globe and Mail reporter James Mirtle this week. "This is one summer when (veteran players) have a lot of company on the unemployment line."
If the summer of 2013 marks the onset of tough times for useful, contributing veteran NHLers, it also represents a tremendous opportunity for savvy organizations with competent general managers. Operating in a buyers market, there is value to be had.