June 25, 2007
Focus shifts to
TFP Editor-in-Chief David Pagnotta, back from Columbus, explains
why the first three days of free agency will be wild.
(TORONTO, ON) -- The NHL Entry Draft has come and gone,
and much to everyone's disappointment, only a few teams
made some noise during the annual event.
Outside of the Toronto Maple Leafs acquiring goalie Vesa
Toskala and winger Mark Bell from the San Jose Sharks, and the
Florida Panthers landing netminder Tomas Vokoun from the
Nashville Predators, Friday's first-round didn't live up to
...unless you attended the event, were a member of the media,
or had a position on one of the 30 NHL clubs.
Yes, the 2007 draft was a lively one. Unfortunately, in the
public eye, it failed to produce any real blockbuster trades.
That doesn't mean, however, that teams didn't try (and I don't
consider the trades of Toskala/Bell or Vokoun to be minor
This year's draft was filled with excitement and trade
anticipation. All 30 teams were involved, in some way, in
trade discussions with another club. Other than trying to move
up or down in the draft, there was plenty of player-related
trade talk that hovered over the entire city of Columbus
(which, by the way, is a great town).
GMs told me they were close to completing a deal, but
decided against rushing into any decisions.
The New York Islanders received plenty of calls from
teams inquiring about Ryan Smyth, an impending
unrestricted free agent. The Calgary Flames and Leafs
both tried to acquire the rights to negotiate with
The Minnesota Wild was busy entertaining offers for
goaltender Manny Fernandez. While they rejected an
offer from the Boston Bruins, they may have set the
groundwork for a deal to be completed in the coming
The Phoenix Coyotes, shopping for a goalie, were believed to
be looking to trade defensemen Nick Boynton and Derek Morris,
and the Edmonton Oilers were desperately trying to upgrade
their roster and were exploring several possibilities.
The Anaheim Ducks listened to offers for goalie Ilyz Bryzgalov;
the Buffalo Sabres has no interest in dealing the rights to
Daniel Briere or Chris Drury; the Montreal Canadiens were
shopping for a top-six scoring forward; the Vancouver Canucks
tried to acquire the first-overall pick; the Carolina
Hurricanes and Philadelphia Flyers were involved in serious
trade discussions; and the San Jose Sharks mulled over deals
for center Patrick Marleau.
And that was just a handful of the ongoing events surrounding
With the draft now complete, teams will gear up and prepare
for July 1, the first day of free agency.
Much of the draft-day trade-talk will continue and could
evolve into completed transactions (Remember, these things
take time. Some trades take months before they're finally
agreed upon). That being said, while GMs listen to trade
offers, or make them, they will be putting together offer
sheets for some of the top free agents set to hit the market
Teams can begin speaking with unrestricted free agents as soon
as the clock hits midnight ET on July 1, but signings will not
be made official until noon ET. You can be sure the likes of
Briere, Smyth, Drury, Jason Blake, Sheldon Souray and Paul
Kariya, among others, will be getting a tone of phone calls
The first few days of free agency should be very exciting.
Most of the teams already know who they're going to target and
the majority of UFAs would rather seal their fate as quickly
The draft may not have ended with a flurry of trades, but it
set teams up for the weeks ahead. Those clubs unable to sign
their prized targets will return back to the drawing board and
revisit their options.
If you haven't marked July 1 on your calendars, I suggest you
do so. It's going to be a wild day in the NHL.
David Pagnotta is the Editor-in-Chief of The Fourth Period
Magazine and covers the Toronto Maple Leafs and the NHL for
TheFourthPeriod.com. He is also a contributing writer for