The free agency signing season begins Aug. 1, and the frenzy to ink unrestricted free agents will continue over the six-year term of the new CBA ratified by NHL governors in New York yesterday.
The Edmonton Oilers have no less than 15 players who'll qualify to shop their services elsewhere by the summer of 2007, if they're not signed to contracts locking them up past the point at which they qualify to move on under terms of the new agreement. "It's going to be a change and there's certainly players who are going to become free agents a lot more quickly," Oilers assistant GM Scott Howson said.
"It's kind of shocking when you look at the list with us.
"I don't think it's going to change what we do this year, but it's definitely a consideration as we move along through the agreement. Every team is going to have guys in the same situation."
"One of the things with unrestricted free agency is you have to have reached the applicable age, but you also have to have played four seasons in the NHL," Howson said of minimum requirements.
"We have to negotiate with (Marty) Reasoner, Ryan (Smyth) and Jussi (Markkanen) this summer because those are the contracts we have to get done. The other guys are signed."
THIS SUMMER: The age for unrestricted free agency remains at 31, but with bought-out players joining the pool of those who are unrestricted because of age and lack of a signed contract.
2006: The age drops to 29 and will also includes players with eight years of NHL experience. The 2004-05 season counts in terms of service.
2007: The age is 28 or seven years of NHL experience.
2008: The age is 27 or seven years of NHL experience.