Squeeze that cap!

The furious competition of June's Stanley Cup Finals has given way to an equally heated contest between general managers this July. Free agent signings, trades, draft picks, etc. all serve to set the stage for the on-ice drama to follow. I'm somewhat surprised that we haven't seen a particular weapon brought out in that battle yet, however.

Back in the early days of the NBA's salary cap, Detroit Pistons GM Jack McCloskey made a hefty offer to Jon Koncak of the Atlanta Hawks. The offer was a shrewd move, as Atlanta was forced (due to lack of other options) to match the deal and retain Koncak at a painfully high salary, constraining their options under the salary cap for years. Detroit went on to win back-to-back championships shortly thereafter and hamstrung a division rival along the way.

So why haven't we seen similar moves this offseason? In the past, NHL teams have made hefty offers to restricted free agents that usually ended up being matched by the original team (remember Carolina offering, and Detroit matching, a $28 million deal for Sergei Fedorov?). Back then, the Wings just had to deal with the financial implications of matching that offer, but in today's world, the cap hangs over those decisions like a thundercloud ready to cut loose on an unwary GM.

So pour over that list of Restricted Free Agents, and try to pick out who will be the next Jon Koncak, and who will be the next Jack McCloskey...