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Saturday, July 30, 2005
Updated: August 1, 8:47 AM ET
Negotiating cannot begin until noon ET on Monday

ESPN.com news services

The NHL said Saturday that it has decided to move the deadline for the official start of the free-agency period from midnight ET on Sunday to noon ET on Monday.

Teams and agents are prohibited from negotiating until that time.

Said one top agent: "There's no point in having to wake up a player in the middle of the night to do a deal."

Under the new collective bargaining agreement, there are hundreds of players without contracts, some who have been bought out, some who haven't received qualifying offers. Teams that are hiring find themselves in a buyer's market with a new CBA that limits how much they can spend.

The start was delayed after clubs and agents complained to the league that they wanted more time to prepare and make final decisions on qualifying offers. The league and players' union had to sign off on the change.

The eerie silence of an NHL draft without spectators essentially mirrored the action on the trade front as GMs focused their efforts on the upcoming free-agent market instead of trying to deal.

That's because there are very few assets to trade. There are more players hitting free agency Monday than there are players under contract.

"Nobody has extra players to move,'' Philadelphia Flyers GM Bob Clarke said. "In the past, there was always extra players in each organization. But now, at least this year, the extra players you had you tried to buy out or didn't qualify to get the payroll down.

"So I think it was a lot more difficult to make trades.''

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.