There are always going to be solid unrestricted free agents that have trouble finding a contract that lives up to expectations, but even in that context this year feels different, according to one longtime agent.
“It’s tough,” the agent told the Columbus Dispatch. “There are plenty of teams interested in adding a player, but they don’t have (salary cap) room. It’s just not there.
“So either they’re trying to make moves to accomodate that, or they’re waiting for the market to adjust. There’s plenty of time. It’s the middle of July. But it’s been really difficult for a lot of guys this summer.”
Thirteen teams have less than $5 million in remaining cap space, according to General Fanager. That number doesn’t include the New York Rangers, which still needs to re-sign RFA Derek Stepan, or the Los Angeles Kings, which might be in limbo as they wait to see how the contract situations with Slava Voynov and Mike Richards play out. So it’s not hard to argue that half the league has little to no cap space remaining. Of course, that doesn’t even start to factor in teams that are expected to stay significantly below the ceiling due to their own internal budgets, rebuilding strategy, or both.
Meanwhile, there are 22 UFAs remaining that came with a cap hit of at least $3 million last season.
There are of course going to be more noteworthy signings, but for teams that have space and the flexibility to add salary, this is a potentially great opportunity to improve their squad at a reduced price. We also might see more salary dumping trades before the 2015-16 campaign starts.