Twenty-five years ago this summer, the first class of elite-level unrestricted free agents (UFAs) hit the open market. The NHL was reeling from its first work stoppage with the 1994-1995 season reduced to 48 games. The new collective bargaining agreement granted unconditional free agency to any player age 32 or older once his contract expired.
One of the first players to go was future Hall of Famer Dale Hawerchuk, a veteran of 14 NHL seasons with 489 goals and 1,314 points. This was his first real chance to grab the cash – he inked a three-year deal for $7.5 million – and his first legitimate chance to challenge for a Stanley Cup with the St. Louis Blues.