Free agents fol­low NBA path in choices

The Denver Post - - OFF & RUNNING - By Stephen Whyno

Kevin Shat­tenkirk could have got­ten more money but took less to join the New York Rangers.

Joe Thorn­ton could have re­ceived a mul­ti­year deal from some­one but wanted to stay with the San Jose Sharks.

Brian Camp­bell and Pa­trick Sharp could have got­ten more money the past two sum­mers but took the Chicago dis­count to re­turn the Black­hawks.

The NHL is be­com­ing more like the NBA with top play­ers for­go­ing longer, big-money con­tracts to pick their pre­ferred des­ti­na­tion, a trend that has added a new wrin­kle to free agency.

“It’s their op­por­tu­nity to go to where they want to go and some­times you might have to take a lit­tle bit less money to go there,” Dal­las Stars gen­eral man­ager Jim Nill said. “Do you want to go to a good team? Is it a city you want to go to? Is it where your fam­ily wants to be? ... It’s play­ers find­ing the right fit for where they want to be and hav­ing the money that they can live with.”

Shat­tenkirk is not ex­actly LeBron James, but the New Rochelle, N.Y., na­tive filled that role on Satur­day when he turned down of­fers of seven years and more than $30 mil­lion to sign with the Rangers for $26.6 mil­lion over four years. The 28-year-old de­fense­man felt like it may be his only op­por­tu­nity to “ful­fill a life­long dream.”

“No mat­ter where you go you’re try­ing to win your team a Stan­ley Cup,” Shat­tenkirk said. “There’s no bet­ter place to try to do it for me than in New York.”

The NHL’s hard salary cap and play­ers re-sign­ing to so many long-term deals means su­perteams like in the NBA won’t hap­pen. But where and who mat­ters more and more to hockey play­ers than sim­ply how much and for how long.

Thorn­ton had more than half the 31-team league reach out to sign him.

“It was nice get­ting courted by all th­ese teams, and I felt bad say­ing, ‘Hey I’m go­ing back to San Jose,’ but that’s where my heart is and that’s where I’m happy,” Thorn­ton said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.