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Sport NHL free agents following NBA path in picking destinations

18:01  04 july  2017
18:01  04 july  2017 Source:   ap.org

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Jaromir Jagr, Ilya Kovalchuk among questions left in busy NHL free agency . 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 .

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 .

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

Joe Thornton could've gotten a multiyear deal from someone but wanted to stay with the San Jose Sharks.

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

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Shattenkirk at 28 is looking at a long-term, lucrative deal after leading all pending unrestricted free agents with 56 points last season. 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

NHL free agents are picking destinations more like NBA players. 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 .

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, New York, native filled that role on Saturday when he turned down offers of seven years and over $30 million to sign with the Rangers for $26.6 million over just four years. The 28-year-old defenseman felt like it may be his only opportunity to ''fulfill a lifelong dream'' and wants to help pull off what LeBron did in Cleveland.

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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 .

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 .

''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.''

Rangers GM Jeff Gorton praised Shattenkirk for leaving money and years on the table, and even New Jersey's Ray Shero - who made a strong push to sign the top free agent available - gave him credit for signing in New York because it was ''where he wanted to be.''

The NHL's hard salary cap and players re-signing to so many long-term deals means super teams 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 at age 38 and signed for $8 million for one year because he simply wanted to stay in San Jose.

''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.

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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 . Get the latest news delivered daily! Subscribe. Follow Us.

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

Likewise, Sharp couldn't pass up going back to Chicago where he was part of three Stanley Cup teams, even if his contract is worth just $850,000 with performance bonuses. Sharp said he was ''coming back to make some more great memories and try to help this team win another Stanley Cup,'' which Campbell tried last offseason, too.

Familiarity with Nashville and coach Peter Laviolette led Scott Hartnell to return to the Predators one a $1 million, one-year deal, after playing his first six NHL seasons with them.

''Absolutely love coming back to Nashville,'' Hartnell said. ''I wish it was October already.''

That kind of natural excitement doesn't happen everywhere. Executives around the league don't begrudge players for making personal choices.

''Players have priorities on where they want to play: family reasons, where teams are, whether they're on the verge of winning a Stanley Cup or a rebuilding situation,'' Buffalo Sabres GM Jason Botterill said. ''I think that happens every year.''

Some money factors could play a role, such as Alexander Radulov making more in Dallas than he would have earned on the same, exact contract in Montreal or Vegas, Tampa Bay and Florida having a leg up in states with no income tax. But the Stars wouldn't have attracted Radulov if they weren't contenders.

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NHL free agents are picking destinations more like NBA players. 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 .

National NBA Featured ColumnistMay 8, 2018. Comments. Ranking NBA 's Top 10 Free - Agent Destinations . Atlanta has three first-round picks in this year's draft, oodles of cap space and a couple of exciting youngsters in Taurean Prince and John Collins.

''Trying to win is a huge component to players picking places,'' said veteran winger Chris Kunitz, who won the Cup three times with the Penguins and signed with the Lightning. ''I think we're all pretty fortunate in what we do, but we also want to go out there and compete and have a chance to win.''

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