.....If you think you're a player!!
Everyone is talking about the players that will be involved in the free agent market, but the teams are going to carry a big load too. At 12:01 AM, you can almost expect the games to be underway and plenty of teams getting some salaries right quick. Especially with the Salary Cap and Floor going up, teams playing it safe will have to get to the 28M quickly in order to no disturb the minions.
Teams like the Washington Capitals and Minnesota Wild will be two of those teams who will have to get to the floor. The Caps have nine players under contract at 12.9M. Needless to say, they will have to get players signed to get to the 28M figure, so they could be players. The Wild are in a little better shape with 11 guys under contract at 20.3M. Expect plenty of the lower end teams to be some kind of players in the FA market.
On the other side of the spectrum, you'll see a team like the Calgary Flames be in the market for another role defenseman with the departure of Jordan Leopold, as well as a quality back-up goaltender, who should see more than the eight games that Mikkaa Kiprusoff didn't play. Coach Darryl Sutter has said he would look at a play-making center, but with the acquisition of Alex Tanguay, then it wouldn't be a big concern.
The Senators will have to find out where Wade Redden and Zdeno Chara go to see how to deal with one or both of them leaving, but also-- they need to sure up their goaltending. With the status of Dominik Hasek unknown and the shaky disposition some have about Ray Emery, you can only assume that the Sens will be players not by choice, but by pressure on the outside.
I wouldn't be surprised either if teams with new GMs, like the LA Kings, NY Islanders, Boston Bruins, and Pittsburgh Penguins, make a considerable splash on the market. The Kings especially since most the team is a skeleton of their former self. With Pavol Demitra traded away and not a proven goaltender on the roster; new GM Dean Lombardi should be a busy man starting July 1st.
But with all the changes, some things stay the same. The Detroit Red Wings will be in the market for a goalie, whether through the FA market or trade, and may need some players depending on what Nick Lidstrom does. Of course, if he signs for the max, it could be a tough time getting quality guys for the money left. Of course, the NY Rangers could be movers and shakers, as well as the Toronto Maple Leafs. The one difference is that the Leafs are going in a completely different direction, which could lead to plenty of new, and younger, faces on the ice.
Of course, you'll have teams who won't be so much players on the market, but in the trade outline. Teams like the Edmonton Oilers, who have plenty of damage control to do; the San Jose Sharks, who could move a goalie; the Anaheim Ducks, could do the same as the Sharks; and the Montreal Canadiens, see the Ducks and Sharks. Add that to trying to keep the Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes together, the next few weeks should be interesting ones to say the least.
However, enjoy it because after this week or so-- it will get somewhat dull until September training camps start. At least it'll give some fans to recover from the season and take a step back to hope for the best in '06-'07.