Wednesday marks the beginning of free agency making it the next “significant” day in the hockey world. I mentioned in my post yesterday that I thought it was tough to address needs specifically in the draft, but teams can surly do that in free agency.
Chicago made a big splash last season signing Cristobal Huet and Brian Campbell. This season it will be interesting to see what they can do in-house to keep some free agents and help set them up for next summer.
I am a big proponent of the “win now” theory. But Dale Tallon and his staff are trying to balance that while trying to set them up for a big summer next season in which Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith all will be in need of new contracts.
Free agency begins tomorrow at 11 a.m. and don’t expect a whole lot on the Rockford front right out of the gate. The first couple days, “Tier 1” free agents will be courted and signed and then “Tier 2” and “Tier 3” free agents will be inked. The latter two groups include the players who will end up in Rockford.
Chicago did announce today that they have re-signed Jake Dowell and Antti Niemi. Some teams have also announced players whom they’ve offered qualifying contracts. These players are would be restricted free agents.
This is when the fun really starts in the offseason!
One last thing today, USA Hockey announced a roster for the 2009 US Men’s Olympic Orientation Camp that will be held in Chicago later this summer.
The list includes former IceHogs d-man Dustin Byfuglien along with Kane. There are 34 players overall on the roster so neither one is guaranteed a spot on it as the roster will have to get cut down a bit before the Olympics in February.
Byfuglien and Kane are the only representatives from Chicago or with Illinois ties. San Jose’s Joe Pavelski (Stevens Point) and Nashville’s Ryan Suter are the only Wisconsin native’s on the roster.
Minnesota (9), Michigan (7) and New York (5) have the most representatives on the roster. The event will take place Aug. 17-19, at Seven Bridges Ice Arena in Woodridge. This is camp is set up to assist in the preparation for the Olympics in Vancouver.