Every NHL Player a Free Agent? Building the Ultimate Realistic Team

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Every NHL Player a Free Agent? Building the Ultimate Realistic Team
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Almost two weeks ago, the Toronto Sun reported that the NHL, in response to the NHLPA's decision to move on a disclaimer of interest, would consider counterpunching by arguing that all player contracts be taken off the table.

Per the report:

'The NHL requests a declaration that, if the NHLPA's decertification or disclaimer were not deemed invalid by the NLRB, and the collective bargaining relationship between the parties were not otherwise to continue, all existing contracts between NHL players and NHL teams (known as Standard Player's Contracts or 'SPCs') would be void and unenforceable,' wrote the league.

In layman's terms...FANTASY DRAFT!

Essentially, every NHL player under contract would become a free agent at the same time. Overpaid players would lose their undeserved financial cushion. Budding superstars could graduate from their pre-UFA contracts early. Teams flirting with the cap ceiling could get a fresh start.

The move is, of course, borderline outrageous, as the NHL is supposed to be representing the interests of the owners, and while the owners might not like some of the big contracts handed out over the years, you can bet your bottom dollar that teams like the Penguins, Kings and Bruins have no interest in seeing their respective superstars Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Quick and Zdeno Chara hit the open market. 

Still, during a time when we have no real hockey to talk about, and even the most up-to-date analysis on the labor meetings has little to say beyond "they're not meeting," it can be fun to imagine the wacky results that this legal move could bring about.

Of course, in this fantasy scenario, there would be no salary cap and seemingly nothing could be done to cap owner spending aside from their own financial limitations. Likewise, we cannot realistically claim to know the value of any given player on the open market. So, in the interest of building a realistic team, we will utilize the $60 million salary cap proposed by the owners in the most recent CBA proposal (via New York Daily News) and the current contracts of NHL players (via CapGeek) to build the most competitive, well-rounded NHL team possible. 

Note: Players who signed extensions due to kick in during 2012-13 will be evaluated on the value of the extension, not the cap hit in 2011-12. Players who are currently restricted or unrestricted free agents and whose performances dictated a significant change in salary were not considered due to the unpredictability of the player's cap hit. The cap value of a player's contract was based on the 2012-13 value of his contract and bonuses, not the average annual value, in order to accurately determine the player's apparent value for the 2012-13 season.

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