Players wrestle with the inexact science of free agency

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for kovalchukkhl.jpgIn this free agent frenzy filled July, we often look at team building through a sober lens of numbers or – as fans – like we’re filling our plates at some hockey buffet table.

The “human element” is often lost in this process, especially for the far-from-superstar players. While it’s quite reasonable to imagine that the Ilya Kovalchuk situation comes down to money, market, team quality or a picky combination of all those factors, it’s a little different for the average NHL player.

One former hockey player turned scribe named Justin Bourne has become one of the best sources of insight for what a skater goes through. He shared some of his experiences as a far-from-sought-after free agent for USA Today.

It’s an odd feeling when your agent calls with options. What do you value the most this year? The city? Its location? The money? The opportunity? Any of the other 52,006 variables?

What matters most to each player is nowhere near the same. Maybe a single guy wants to live in a bigger city to have a social life. Maybe a family man wants to live closer to his hometown. Some guys want money, and some just want to get noticed. And while GMs don’t know exactly what will pique the interest of each player, sometimes that player won’t even be sure where his priorities are.

If you’ve ever read a “choose your own adventure” book, I’m sure you remember frequently making the wrong choice. It happens in reality, too. I chose to make a couple hundred bucks less a week in the ECHL to sign with a team that I thought provided a better path to the NHL. Lesson: Active players make lousy GMs.

There certainly are a lot of factors that play into a decision that could drastically alter the lives of these players. Perhaps that’s why the Patrick Marleaus of the world decide that there’s no place like home.

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    Bruins pay warm tribute to Milan Lucic

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    Milan Lucic may or may not spend a big chunk of his career with the Los Angeles Kings, but the Boston Bruins haven’t forgotten his contributions.

    (Their fans haven’t, either.)

    The Bruins shared a tribute video for Lucic, decked out in a loud, retro-style Kings sweater on Tuesday. The hulking winger seemed to appreciate the nod from his former team, and also acknowledged fans who watched him develop into one of the league’s most formidable power forwards.

    (H/T to the Score for the video.)

    No bread: Illness likely sidelines Panarin for Blackhawks tonight

    Chicago Blackhawks left wing Artemi Panarin (72) celebrates after scoring an empty-net goal on an assist from Patrick Kane against the Winnipeg Jets during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015, in Chicago. The Blackhawks won 3-1. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
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    A lot has gone Artemi Panarin‘s way this season – to the point where he could be the Calder frontrunner – but Tuesday seems like it isn’t his night.

    Barring a surprise twist, the Chicago Blackhawks rookie won’t be able to play against the San Jose Sharks. Instead, it looks like Jiri Sekac will take his place in the lineup.

    In other lineup news, it appears that Rob Scuderi will be a healthy scratch for Chicago.

    Want to know what the Blackhawks’ lines look like without “The Bread Man?” CSNChicago.com’s Tracey Myers gives you an idea:

    Video: Devils honor Martin Brodeur, retire his No. 30

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    As the all-time leader in an array of categories, numbers mean a lot when you talk about Martin Brodeur.

    Still, Tuesday represented another important chapter … one that provides some sense of closure, as the New Jersey Devils retired his No. 30.

    You can see some of the most important moments in the video below:

    There are some other great sensory details captured by the Devils’ Twitter (not to mention the NHL’s) feed, so here are some additional highlights:

    Still not enough Marty for you? Check this out:

    WATCH LIVE: Dallas Stars at Minnesota Wild

    Dallas Stars center Jason Spezza (90) and Minnesota Wild right wing Justin Fontaine (14) chase the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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    The Minnesota Wild hope to turn things around, yet facing the Dallas Stars certainly ratchets up the degree of difficulty.

    On the other hand, sometimes that’s the best way to regain confidence: overcome an especially formidable obstacle.

    Whether the Wild flounder or rebound, you can watch the action on NBCSN and stream it via the link below.

    CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE