By this time last year -- through July 6th -- 44 free agents had been signed with new teams. This year that number is 45. Not much difference there. Ah, but look closer…
This year we are seeing shorter average contracts in terms of years and smaller cap hits. The first reaction we have to this is that it is a reflection of a somewhat inferior free agent class. The 2009 free agent class also had seven players getting contracts of at least five years in length (including the whopper of a 12-year deal signed by Marian Hossa in Chicago). This year that number is four, and none for more than six years (Dan Hamhuis and Anton Volchenkov).
Also, there were six deals signed in 2009 that carried an annual salary cap hit of at least $5.0 million. This year – two (Paul Martin and Sergei Gonchar).
These are things to keep in mind in the days ahead as Caps fans gnash their teeth over the club not signing free agents. There just isn’t a lot out there, and the guys who are paid to make those decisions and arrive at those conclusions are voting with their pens… they’re not handing them over to players to sign big deals.