Well for starters, don't expect anything before 12:00 pm ET. Unlike the NBA free agency frenzy, which kicked off at 12:01 a.m., the NHL free agency period doesn't start until 12:00 pm ET.
So what can we expect out of the first day of NHL free agency?
Sadly, a good majority of the day will be marred with rumors and speculation, just like every day leading up to it. I don't think we can expect a big player to land somewhere, especially with the whole holiday weekend upon us. However, on a similar note, if a guy is looking to just take care of business and get what is already a done deal in his own mind out of the way, we could see some players taking care of business before Friday afternoon.
Basically what I'm saying is to just keep your eyes and ears open. In the event you hear a rumor and want to share it here, please just supply a reference of sorts. If you link to anything on HockeyBuzz you will be dragged out back and used as Eric Godard's punching bag.
As far as the Penguins are concerned, we at least know that the team is willing to spend upwards of $11 million on free agents. While that may be perceived as a significant amount of money, keep in mind that if the Pens are looking to sign Dan Hamhuis and retain Sergei Gonchar for a significant amount of money, then that leaves anywhere between four or five million dollars to still fill some gaps up front. The obvious emphasis, as I'm sure anyone here will agree, is on the defensive end of the ice. But at the same time, do we really want to see Shero throwing away a third pick just to watch Hamhuis sign somewhere else?
Without considering the likelihood of that pick amounting to an NHL player, the fact is the ball is in the Pens' court. That's what they traded for and it's up to them to make it work. If Hamhuis is so dead set on not playing for the Flyers, then hopefully Shero can sell him on the playing against them angle a bit. I know, I'm stretching a bit. But I'll take whatever i can get.
Buckle down friends. This is one of the best days of the year, outside of the trade deadline. The only edge the trade deadline has is a definitive end time, whereas the free agency period opens up for the offseason today.
Things are going to get interesting around the league. Feel free to post fanshots or fanposts for any of the big moves you feel like talking about.