- Category: The Contrarian
- Written by Demetrios Fragopoulos
Keep Calm and avoid damaging mistakes during the free agent frenzy.
I started to write this article about the composition of the two Stanley Cup finalists, the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers. I wanted to find out how they were built and if there was a connection between their success and free agency.
Free agency did not have a huge impact on the Kings. Only four players, Jake Muzzin, Willie Mitchell, Jeff Schultz and Martin Jones were added to the club through this avenue.
The Rangers were only slightly more involved by having seven players. For all the talk about New York being a rich, spend happy team this was not what was I expecting. Those players were, Mats Zuccarello, Brad Richards, Benoit Pouliot, Dan Girardi, Anton Stralman, John Moore, Derek Dorsette and Cam Talbot.
Four of those players listed were what I call new discoveries. They were not playing on another team and then got signed by either club, but more like hidden gems that were found and unearthed. Brad Richards was the only real big item guy.
Based on their playoff rosters a total of 11 players out of 47, or 23%, were filled in via free agency. What about from the draft and via trades?
There were 17 players acquired via trade (36%) and 19 players via the draft (40%).
Immediately I thought if this would be similar for the previous year and I found that between Chicago and Boston that 21% were free agents (one was actually a waiver claim), 30% were from trades and 38% were from their own draft choices.
Seems to me that free agency is not all that important.
I moved onto the 2011-12 playoff finalists, the Los Angeles Kings and New Jersey Devils and here is where the twist starts. Los Angeles has practically the same roster, only seven players were different between both Stanley Cup victories. None of those seven were major free agent signings. Dustin Penner was the player with the most playoff points from their first victory that was not around for their second.
Instead of continuing the investigation for the Devils I became curious about the stability of the other finalists, knowing that Chicago has also won two Cups and Boston has one and lost in the finals as well in recent seasons.
For Boston’s two cup runs their roster changed by only eight players and again none were big free agents. Chicago had more turnover with 14 players being different but they primarily handled the transition with trades and bringing up their youngsters. The turnover was necessary because of cap issues.
Back to New Jersey, they have primarily been intact since their 2012 appearance moving 14 players except that they lost their two stars, Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise. You might as well include Martin Brodeur now too.
The Vancouver Canucks have seen 19 players move from their 2011 finals roster, Ryan Kessler, Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider were big parts of that team and all play somewhere else now.
The last team I’ve looked at, the Philadelphia Flyers have three players remaining from their Cup run of 2010. That is just ridiculous.
How is it that Chicago can keep most of their team together and Philadelphia could not? Even when Chicago had to move players they still kept their core adding via trade or inserting draftees into their lineup. Throwing money around and gutting almost all of their team did not help Philadelphia.
Now caught in their own cap issues now, the Flyers should learn from their Metropolitan division rivals and the team that defeated them in the 2010 playoffs. Build through the draft and trades.
What fantasy keeper league owners should learn from this is that as much fun as it to blow up and re-tool your team, you are better off just doing a little tinkering here and there. Do your research for your prospects draft and keep your eyes and ears open for a good deal. It doesn’t have to be a steal.
Keep calm because the only ones that win in the feeding frenzy will be your competitors.