If you're anything like me, there was once a time when July 1st was a day you marked on your calendar to remind yourself to call in sick from work.
The first day of NHL free-agency, the NHL's answer to the NFL Draft, was the most exciting non-game event of the year for hockey fans. In a single day an entire team could be remade, reinforced, or reinvigorated with just one strategic free-agent signing.
But free-agency only made waiting for the new NHL season even more unbearable than it had been before. It was bad enough looking at the calendar knowing you still had three months to go to see your team play again. Now you'd have to have to wait to see them play with so-and-so on the team!
Waiting was never so painful.
Now that the NHL is operating under a salary cap, what was something akin to Christmas morning now more closely resembles Labor Day—it's still a holiday, but not nearly as longed for.
Thanks to the cap, every NHL team is forced to think long and hard about how to spend their money. So much so, in fact, that the supply of free-agent players now significantly outpaces demand.
Consequently, there are many players that wait long after July 1st to find a new NHL home. There are even those who may see the puck drop on opening night the way so many of the rest of us do—from their couch.
There's no way to know for sure, but if I had to guess, the following five players may find themselves in just such a position once the season starts in October.
And these aren't exactly scrub players either. These are players, who just a season ago, were significant members of their respective teams.
Regardless of their histories, these five players may indeed be casualties of a terribly competitive and restrictive market. One that will bar them from entering the 2010-11 NHL season as a player under contract.