NHL free agency does not officially begin until Friday at noon, but that won't stop teams from negotiating with players and agents over the next 48 hours.
It remains to be seen how many deals, if any at all, will be reached and leaked through the media over the next two days, but the NHL now finds itself in a similar position as the NBA when it comes to the free agency process.
Just as the NBA has its moratorium period during which deals can be negotiated between teams and players but not officially signed until the second week of July, the NHL adopted a similar system under its latest collective bargaining agreement.
Thanks to the NHL's new free agency system, teams have been free to talk with unrestricted free agents since 12:01 a.m. (EDT) Wednesday, with deals to be made official beginning Friday at noon.
Under the previous CBA, free agency began July 1 at noon and, in theory, teams were not permitted to negotiate with pending UFAs until then.
“It’s an opportunity for every team to reach out and make a case,” Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland told reporters Tuesday.
“It’s good for players. In the past, players got calls at noon, and have to make a decision within two hours. That’s a big decision for a player and club. From the club’s perspective, you’d like the opportunity to make contact and tell them about your program. It gives players a chance to hear from a number of teams. It’s a great part of the new [CBA]."
Forwards Nathan Horton, David Clarkson, Stephen Weiss and Mike Ribeiro are among the most coveted players from the 2013 free agent class.
Vincent Lecavalier met with at least eight teams at the NHL Draft last weekend and ultimately signed with the Philadelphia Flyers Tuesday. Lecavalier was in a position to sign before Friday because his previous contract was bought out by the Tampa Bay Lightning last week.
Former Flyers forward Daniel Briere and former Maple Leafs defenseman Mike Komisarek have also had their contracts bought out in the past week and can sign with a new team immediately.