NHL Free Agency
Brian Burke spoke to reporters out East at the P.E.I. Special Olympics Festival Luncheon on Wednesday.
â€œWith the salary cap and the new collective bargaining agreement thatâ€™s coming up, I donâ€™t know what our plans are for filling out our roster,â€ Burke told the large gathering at Credit Union Place.
â€œFree agency starts on July 1, itâ€™s a really thin group.
â€œTeams are locking all these quality players up now, so the group that is getting to the market is thin, itâ€™s shallow. There are really two high-end players and thatâ€™s about it, (Nashville defenceman) Ryan Suter and (New Jersey forward) Zach Parise.
â€œI donâ€™t think we are going to be in on either one of them.â€
NHL Free Agency was, originally, to be a major component of the Brian Burke 'rebuild' model - or 'retool,' whatever you want to call it - when the Maple Leafs' new GM arrived in Toronto. And despite perpetual inflation, it remains the surest and easiest avenue for a team to obtain top-quality players in their prime without sacrificing any organizational assets beyond cash. Factoring in the promises of a quick turnaround and transactions we shall not name, lest we incite debate involving high-end draft picks exchanged for promising young stars, free agency to the Brian Burke model becomes...well, not quite a necessity...but a really, really valuable step in getting the Toronto Maple Leafs back to the Stanley Cup finals as efficiently as possible.
One can't exactly say it's worked out nicely, thus far.
The problem, as Burke's lamented, has been the distinct lack of premier free agents available. Teams have compensated for the league's attempts to "liberalize" the market by locking up their talented players before they become UFAs. [more…]