NHL free agency 2024 live updates: Latest rankings, deals, trades and rumors

Tom Fitzgerald wants it all in front of him at this time of year. There are reports from the New Jersey Devils’ pro scouts, opinions from his front-office and coaching staffs and reams of data from their deep analytics team.

Not too long ago, an NHL general manager heading into the free-agent frenzy of July 1 would have plenty to work with — but based only on the first two parts of the above formula. Now that the age of data is in full swing, the process of targeting free agents and negotiating and signing contracts is evolving. All 32 NHL teams — plus plenty of agents — have analytics teams producing detailed data on everything from shot locations to scoring chances to zone entries and beyond.

“You’re definitely over-prepared,” Fitzgerald said. “You want to be over-prepared.”

Every GM, no matter how long they’ve been on the job, uses data. And the inexact science of finding a free-agent fit needs all the help it can get. The stakes and scrutiny this time of year are high — it won’t take more than a few minutes after a signing for media and fans to criticize deals as too expensive or too long.

In talking to a handful of general managers, team executives and agents, some of whom were granted anonymity in order to speak candidly on an intensely competitive and often secretive process, it becomes clear that the preparations for July 1 and beyond have to include every available detail.

“We have everything you could need or think of — it’s a lot. Sometimes, it’s too much,” Fitzgerald said.

Still, data is only one part of the equation.


How NHL teams use data in free agency: An inexact science, the eye test and big money

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