The rookie salary cap means that most NHL teams should be in the mix to sign college free agents. It's all a matter of identifying them and convincing them they will have an opportunity with the team. Many guys step right into the NHL lineup, like Steve Wagner of St. Louis this year. If you just said "who?" -- well, that's sort of the point. There's a lot of talent in the NCAA that's unexamined. Wagner is down in Peoria now, but he played 24 NHL games this year as a rookie defenseman. Good job, St. Louis too.
But the Ducks still had to spot those things before anyone else, and [David] McNab signed [Ryan] Carter, 24, after two years of college.
Carter joins Dustin Penner, Andy McDonald, Chris Kunitz, Curtis Glencross (now with Edmonton) and Ryan Shannon among non-drafted college players that McNab spotted and signed.
"We were motivated because we were afraid he would explode the next season and be one of the very best players in college hockey," McNab said.
"It's something we used to have success with, before the salary cap came, because you could spend a million or a couple of million on a guy that you really liked. Not every team believed in that sort of investment. But now, with the cap being tighter, the salaries for those players have gone down and more teams are getting involved. So it's harder now."
Monday, February 18, 2008
College free agents are untapped source of talent
There's something to be learned from the way the Anaheim Ducks watch college hockey. They don't just watch the 18-year-olds. They keep watching everyone and sign the ones they like. This column about their success is written in a confusing way, but still it gets your thinking cap on.