The 2013 NHL season and entry draft have reached their conclusions, and the next step in the offseason process for franchises will be the free-agency period that officially opens July 5.
With some of the biggest names in the sport reaching the open market—the standard crop of free agents has been bolstered with teams using their buyouts on high-priced players—the NHL landscape will be drastically different next season.
As teams begin to posture for the chance to sign a marquee player or two, the hockey world will continue to buzz around the rumors and news over the upcoming 2013 free-agency period.
Top 10 Unrestricted Free Agents
Which free agent would you like to see your team sign?
Danny Briere, C
Jarome Iginla, RW
David Clarkson, RW
Nathan Horton, RW
Jaromir Jagr, RW
Brenden Morrow, LW
Andrew Ference, D
Ilya Bryzgalov, G
Tim Thomas, G
Free-Agency Period Rumor Mill
As free agency approaches fast, the rumors about where the top stars will land has become the focus of the hockey world. While the amnesty clause has caused chaos for many players and teams, the infusion of unpredictability has created a buzz around this summer.
The biggest name to hit the market this year will be Vincent Lecavalier, and according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, teams are lining up for the chance to sign the veteran:
Lecavalier is back home contemplating his many options. 3 more teams called today after he met with Detroit and Calgary this morning.— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) July 1, 2013
So that's a dozen teams. Lecavalier camp hoping to narrow down choices to 3-4 teams within next 2 days or so— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) July 1, 2013
After losing in the Stanley Cup Final, the Boston Bruins have already started looking forward to 2013-14 season. The franchise may be forced to make serious moves, as TSN's Bob McKenzie is now reporting that forward Nathan Horton will likely test free agency, and the team could be looking to trade Tyler Seguin:
Not 100 per cent yet but looks like Nathan Horton will NOT be back with BOS. B's talking trade and Tyler Seguin's name has been discussed.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 29, 2013
The Bruins aren’t the only team in the Eastern Conference possibly making huge moves, as LeBrun is also reporting the Buffalo Sabres will look to move veteran goalie Ryan Miller:
The Sabres remain intent on moving Ryan Miller but whether it happens this summer or at trade deadline next season remains to be seen...— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) July 1, 2013
Another team that could lose a key piece this offseason is the New Jersey Devils, as McKenzie is reporting that forward David Clarkson will likely test free agency:
NJ's David Clarkson expects going to UFA July 5 unless Devils make an offer substantial enough to alter that. Hasn't seen any #s yet from NJ— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 29, 2013
With so much free-agent action this offseason—not to mention the potential blockbuster trades that could always come to fruition—there is little doubt that this could be one of the wildest periods in NHL history.
The Amnesty Clause
The NHL is still recovering from the damage done to the league during the lockout-shortened regular season, but the new collective bargaining agreement has some very interesting free-agency implications.
The most important change is the amnesty clause.
Teams will be allowed to buyout two contracts over the next two summers, per Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos and NHL Network’s Chris Johnston, and those changes have already shaken up the league considerably.
The two amnesty buyouts available to each team this summer will cost two-thirds of what remains on a player's deal.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) January 6, 2013
The Philadelphia Flyers were one of the first teams to exercise the option to buyout the contracts of players the franchise didn’t feel fit the mold or were overpriced. By cutting ties with center Daniel Briere and goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, per Dave Isaac of the USA Today, the team set the tone for how the clause would be exercised by other teams.
As seen by the buyout of long-time Tampa Bay Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier, per Adam Gretz of CBS Sports, there is no player safe from the financial eraser known as the amnesty clause.
While the players may not enjoy the uncertainty of the rule, it has brought an element of intrigue to this year’s free-agency period by adding several top-tier talents to the pool of players up for bid.
With the rule still applying to next offseason as well, there is little doubt that the 2014 free agency period will be just as wild as what the NHL is expecting this year.