We had intended to write some flowing preamble to this post, but writer's block intervened on word #1 - it was going to be a grandiose setting of the scene in 2007 with pop culture references and hip ironies. Let us focus on hockey alone and note that the summer of 2007 in the NHL was quite an interesting time. We are positing that the teams who did not participate in the orgy of 2007 FA signings are fundamentally more healthy teams than those who did - those whose cap outlook is especially murky were the largest participants.
2006-2007 were boom times once again for the NHL, as the salary cap rose by 6.3 million dollars. Any major market team with expiring contracts could load up on shiny new ones.
Let us revisit what was available - this link here shows us what was available, but let's comb from that the best players. Let us also remember that the free agency age and years of service for free agency was falling - any player who was 28 years old or had 7 NHL seasons became a unrestricted free agent in 2007.
Centers: Eric Belanger, Chris Drury, Daniel Briere, Dainius Zubrus, Scott Gomez, Viktor Kozlov, Michael Nylander, Michal Handzus, Robert Lang, Todd White
Wings: Bill Guerin, Paul Kariya, Todd Bertuzzi, Ryan Smyth, Jason Blake
Defensemen: Andy Sutton, Sheldon Souray, Brian Rafalski, Tom Poti, Tom Preissing, Cory Sarich, Roman Hamrlik, Brad Stuart, Darryl Sydor, Mathieu Schneider
Goalies: None of significance
Recall also that Scott Hartnell and Kimmo Timonen had already inked contracts with the Philadelphia Flyers - Timonen signed for $38 million over 6 years, and Hartnell signed for $25.2
million over 6 years.
In Part 2, we will examine the situation of some of the teams who participated in the orgy. The key word is 'uncertainty'.