NHL Playoffs 2012: 9 Potential Free Agents Who Hurt Their Stock in 1st Round

Jacob Betzner@@JacobBetznerCorrespondent IIApril 25, 2012

NHL Playoffs 2012: 9 Potential Free Agents Who Hurt Their Stock in 1st Round

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    A lot of factors go into deciding whether or not to sign an NHL player. General managers must determine how a player fits into the team's system, what role he may play in the locker room, if and how he may effect team chemistry, etc.

    A definite factor GMs pay attention to is the player's ability—or lack thereof in some cases—to perform in the postseason.

    Some players earn an NHL contract based solely on their ability to perform at a high level in the NHL playoffs. The opposite is true for players who can't perform in the postseason. If they can't elevate their game when it matters, all the regular-season goals really don't seem to matter.

    The 2012 NHL free-agent class features several players who haven't performed well in this year's opening round, and their salaries might take a hit because of the lack of production.

Dennis Wideman

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    Wideman finished the 2011-12 season with 11 goals and 34 assists with the Washington Capitals, and played in the NHL All-Star Game despite a negative plus-minus rating.

    After three games in the Capitals' opening-round series against the Boston Bruins, Wideman has a minus-four plus-minus rating and zero points.

    His play improved in the next three games, maintaining an even plus-minus, and the 29-year-old recorded an assist in Game 5.

    However, Wideman hasn't come close to approaching his regular-season production on a Washington team that needs offense, especially from the back end.

Brad Stuart

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    One of the NHL's few Rocky Mountain House, Alberta natives, Stuart finished with one assist and an inexcusable minus-five plus-minus rating in five games against the Nashville Predators.

    He did record 17 hits in the opening round, including seven in a heavy-hitting Game 1, but failed to shut down the Predators' offense despite being expected to play big minutes.

    The former first-round draft pick is a legitimate top-four defenseman, only 24 games short of 1,000 in his career, but when combining a disappointing playoff performance with the fact that he's not getting any younger, Stuart might find it difficult to justify a raise in salary with the Red Wings or another team this offseason.

Tomas Vokoun

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    Vokoun's stock is slipping not because of his play, but rather because he isn't playing. The Capitals signed the 35-year-old on a $1.5 million, one-year deal, which was considered a bargain for the proven NHL starter, as the goaltender believed he was sacrificing salary for a good chance to win the Stanley Cup.

    Battling a groin injury near the end of the season after posting a decent 25-17-2 record and recording four shutouts, Vokoun won't be stealing the starting job back from the surprising Braden Holtby anytime soon, since the rookie has posted a 3-3 record, 2.18 GAA and .935 save percentage in the playoffs.

    The Capitals aren't likely to resign Vokoun with Holtby and fellow youngster Michal Neuvirth in the mix.  There are a few teams who might to sign him to a short-term deal, but the aging goaltender may be looking at a backup position next season if he remains in the NHL.

Michal Rozsival

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    Rozsival is widely regarded as one of the most overpaid players in the NHL. At $5 million this year, the defenseman scored a whopping one goal and added 12 assists. 

    In the Coyotes' seven-game playoff series against the Blackhawks, Rozsival was pointless and finished with a minus-one plus-minus rating. He did sustain an injury in Game 7 after being hit violently face-first into the boards, but he should be able to play in the team's upcoming second-round series against the Nashville Predators, according to CBS Sports.

    The 33-year-old Czech Republic native is a good candidate for a move to the KHL next season if he isn't interested in a fairly substantial pay cut.

Ruslan Fedotenko

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    Ruslan Fedotenko carved a name for himself in postseason play, scoring 12 goals in a cup-winning season with Tampa Bay in 2004 and seven goals with the Pittsburgh Penguins in their 2009 Stanley Cup run.

    The Rangers need a role player like Fedotenko to step up this postseason, and the 33-year-old winger needs to show he is still a valuable asset to an NHL team. Fedotenko has only one assist and is minus-one against a team many analysts thought the Rangers could easily sweep.

    On the brink of elimination, the Rangers staved off the Senators to force a Game 7 in the "Big Apple." 

    However, with a subpar playoff performance thus far and only a 20-point season, Fedotenko's NHL career may be nearing its end.

Sami Salo

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    Sami Salo has never played a full 82-game NHL season. The oft-injured defenseman finished with nine goals and 16 assists in 69 games before the playoffs this year.

    Though no Canuck players put up lofty offensive numbers in their opening-round series against Los Angeles, Salo finished pointless with a minus-three rating despite significant time on the power play and five-on-five.

    The 38-year-old might still have a few years left in the NHL if a team is willing to sign him to a one- or two-year deal, but it will probably be for less than his current $2 million contract.

    His history of injuries combined with his age will also affect how teams evaluate him before sending him an offer.

Todd Bertuzzi

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    Once one of the game's most prominent power forwards, Todd Bertuzzi permanently tarnished his reputation with a punch to the back of Colorado Avalanche center Steve Moore in early 2004. Moore suffered three broken vertebrae and a severe concussion, among other injuries.

    Bertuzzi left Vancouver and signed with Detroit for one season, and then suited up with three other teams before returning to the "Motor City."

    He chipped in 14 goals and added 24 assists this season—not bad for a 37-year-old bruiser—but he proved his NHL tenure is near (if not already at) its end.

    In his team's five-game series against the Nashville Predators, Bertuzzi recorded zero points and was minus-five.

    These low numbers and his age may be enough to discourage any team from extending an offer this offseason.

Steven Reinprecht

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    Like Vokoun of the Capitals, Reinprecht's stock is falling simply because he isn't playing.

    The 35-year-old center is one of the highest-paid players in the AHL, collecting just over $2 million with the Chicago Wolves in the Vancouver Canucks' organization.

    The Canucks were reportedly going to call up Reinprecht for a playoff run, but apparently, his services were not as necessary as anticipated.

    A legitimate 30- to 40-point scorer when healthy, Reinprecht might earn an opportunity with an NHL team if he's willing to accept a short-term, inexpensive deal.

Marco Sturm

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    Sturm has battled injuries for the last two seasons and played for four different teams, making it difficult to match his 20-plus-goal seasons of years past.

    He finished with only five points in an incredibly disappointing 42 games with the Florida Panthers this season and is pointless through six postseason contests.

    Sturm might have to accept a one-year, low-end deal to prove he can still play at the NHL level when healthy, or the German-born-and-trained winger might be headed back across the Atlantic.

Arron Asham

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    Asham has a bit of a "reputation" in the league. The heavy-hitting power forward can play an important third- or fourth-line role on an NHL team, but his history of suspensions and injuries might turn teams away.

    This season, Asham permanently tarnished his reputation with a knockout gesture after beating Capitals forward Jay Beagle unconscious and delivering a first-round cross-check to the throat of Flyers forward Brayden Schenn that resulted in a four-game suspension for the 24-year-old winger.

    The Portage la Prairie, Manitoba native still has NHL talent, but his reputation might deter teams from sending him an offer this season.