Free agency and professional drafts fill up a lot of the sports page during the summer. Unfortunately (or fortunately), there will not be a decision in the NBA for everybody and their mothers to scrutinize. That does not mean organizations cannot change their expectations drastically with this year’s crop of free agents.
Jamal Crawford, Andrei Kirilenko, Tyson Chandler and David West will all warrant decent contracts. Plus, there is always a small chance—a really diminutive chance—that Tim Duncan opts out of his contract and becomes a free agent as well.
The NHL’s version of free agency is more like a 100-meter dash. The second the gun is set off on July 1st, the news immediately starts flying in. Zach Parise, Christian Ehrhoff, Erik Cole and even Steven Stamkos and Shea Weber might find themselves in different sweaters next season. The latter two are highly doubtful.
Unlike the NBA, there is plenty of depth in the NHL's free agents this year. Obviously, larger rosters contribute to that. The drama is only a month away.
A week before NHL free agency, the NBA will conduct their yearly draft. It will take place on June 23rd this year. While this year's class is not as impressive as recent classes, the Cleveland Cavaliers are rumored to want the second overall pick to go with the No. 1 overall selection. Nobody will replace LeBron, but potentially getting their point guard and big man for the next 10 years is a solid start.
The NHL and MLB drafts are much different than the NBA draft. America gets to know the college basketball athletes, whether they are in school for one year or four years. It also helps that rookie basketball players have a legitimate opportunity to make an impact for their professional team once they arrive.
That is rarely the case in the NHL or MLB. That does not mean their drafts are not just as important, because they certainly are.
On June 6th, the Pittsburgh Pirates will lead off and have the honor of selecting first overall. Many experts believe that Anthony Rendon, third baseman out of Rice, is the most sure thing in the 2011 draft. With the Pirates selecting first, congratulations to Rendon on being selected second by the Seattle Mariners.
A couple weeks after the MLB draft, it will be the NHL’s turn on June 24th. The Edmonton Oilers, Colorado Avalanche and the Florida Panthers are slotted with the first three picks. It is a center-heavy draft with potentially 11 centers being selected in the first round, the best of the bunch being Ryan Nugent Hopkins out of the WHL. He will take his talents to Edmonton and could be seen in the NHL as soon as this fall.
Three professional drafts and the drama of free agency is definitely worthy of keeping an eye on.