August is the dead zone of the NHL offseason. After the excitement of the playoffs, followed immediately by the draft, free agency, and a handful of major trades, August shows up and ruins everything. You suck, August.
Although we sometimes do see a meaningful late-summer signing or trade, most of the league seems to take the month off. And that’s bad news for the dozens of players who are still free agents. Some will still sign between now and opening night, but their options are narrowing and their odds of finding a job are getting worse by the day.
If you’re an NHL free agent who’s still unemployed in mid-August, chances are that you fall into one of 13 categories. Let’s walk through them and see if we can figure out what fans should expect.