NHL Free Agency: Top 10 Free-Agent Acquisitions of the Millennium

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NHL Free Agency: Top 10 Free-Agent Acquisitions of the Millennium
Brian Bahr/Getty Images
Instigator Claude Lemieux was signed away from defending champ New Jersey and helped bring a Cup to Colorado

Some teams were not very active in free agency this offseason, even when making improvements. The San Jose Sharks, for instance, went the route of trading for players.

It may seem like a trade is a worse idea since you have to give something up to get your return. However, history says otherwise, especially in the salary cap era when any salary taken is surrendering something (cap space).

In fact, it was hard to find 10 players in the entire decade who were major free-agent signings. To me, to be a major free agent one must be among the top four forwards, two defencemen or the primary goalie on that team during a season that results in a Stanley Cup within the first three seasons with the new team.

If you do not win the ultimate goal, how can you be considered among the best acquisitions? If it takes more than three seasons to reach that goal, you are a mainstay on the team. If you are a role-player, how can you be considered a major signing?

There were literally only 10 players who fit those parameters signed in 2000 and beyond; here is how they rank...

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