This is an open question for all the NHLers out there. Unrestricted free agency is almost upon us and a handful of notable free agents such as Scott Gomez, Chris Drury, Daniel Briere, and Ryan Smyth to name a few, look like they will become UFA's.
So here's the big question. As a top level UFA how do you decide which team you will decide to sign with? For some it may be as easy as which team offers up the most cash. Yet others will make a choice on location which seems more understandable. Last but not least we have the low level scum who make their choice based on which team has the best chance at winning a cup. This is where players go wrong in my opinion.
Look at some of the players who decided to leave their old teams in the dust. Paul Kariya the first face of the Anaheim "Mighty" Ducks moved on after a Cup finals run, signed with the Avs so he could play with his buddy Temmu and help push Colorado over the top, then moved onto the Predators because they were a team he determined to also be on the cusp of a championship but so far both attempts have failed. Meanwhile the team he left has just hoisted their first cup.
I still have a clear image of Jeremy Roenick when he signed his big deal with the Flyers in 2001-02 boldly stating he would help bring the cup back to Philadelphia. The Flyers were a good team thanks in large part to big spending on behalf of the ownership and good ole JR thought he would put them over the top. If only it was that easy JR.
We have seen more and more that teams have been able to turn the corner quicker and become a winner. The Hurricanes were a team that didn't really have any big time superstars going into the 2005-06 season but the team had a lot of players of high character like Rod Brind'Amour, Eric Cole and Glen Wesley. Eric Staal arrived in a big way, Cam Ward got hot at the right time and never let the team down on their way to a great Stanley Cup victory. They also had some key signings with Ray Whitney and Corey Stillman( both of whom signed cheap compared to many other players that off season) not to mention many other tireless efforts that year. Who would have predicted them or their Stanley Cup dance partners(the Oilers) to be in the finals that year?
While I believe that some teams are a little bit farther away like Columbus, Chicago, Pheonix, and Washington. Most teams are right in the mix with the right signings and/or trades this off season.
Any player that puts Ottawa, Anaheim, Detroit or Buffalo at the top of their list better look at what type of role they will have with that team first. Not where the team placed in the standings or even how much money they will get. Their are hundreds of different scenarios right now and I wouldn't want to limit the possibility of any player signing with a team unless they have cap problems but as a player I think you should ask yourself "Am I up for the challenge". There is know easy Stanley Cup, if you sign with Ottawa or Anaheim you will still have to play 82 regular season games and probably 20 some playoff games if you wanna sip from Lord Stanley's Cup.