NHL Free Agency 2012: 11 Biggest Bargains on the Market This Summer
The NHL free-agent frenzy has become an annual practice of ridiculous spending, especially on the first day of the process.
Teams throw money at what they think are the best players and don't always get their money's worth from the play.
Some guys are overlooked moving into the frenzy of free agency—or are just not nearly as hyped—sign for much less, and end up providing much more.
Here are some of the players that could be gotten at a bargain in the 2012 NHL free-agency period.
David Jones, Colorado Avalanche
David Jones has a couple things going against him as far as his value is concerned.
First, in his young career, he has already sustained two major injuries that cut two seasons very short, but he has played 70-plus games the past two seasons.
His inconsistency this past year is the other mark against him, so his free-agency value isn't particularly high.
Jones still has some pretty sweet hands around the net and is capable of playing a strong power game around the net as well.
He's netted 20 goals the past two seasons in a row and might be a steal if the Colorado Avalanche decide not to re-sign him.
Ray Whitney, Phoenix Coyotes
He's not a big guy, and he's not a young guy, but Ray Whitney still has some good hockey left in his tank.
At the tender age of 40, Whitney is still managing to be a major player for the Phoenix Coyotes.
It's unlikely anybody offers Whitney big money or a multi-year deal, but for another year—possibly two—Whitney should still be able to put up 50 to 65 points.
Paul Gaustad, Nashville Predators
Gaustad is one of the best faceoff men that will be on the market this season, and that should provide him with pretty good value.
His offensive numbers aren't all that special, but his size and ability on draws and in the defensive zone make him attractive.
The 6'4", 230-pound Gaustad could give great value to a team needing a third-line center that can bring some grit to the table as well.
Tomas Vokoun, Washington Capitals
Tomas Vokoun was considered the steal of last year's free-agent class, but had a terribly rough season with the Capitals this year.
Goalies will have off years on occasion, which is why I still think that he will have value this season as well.
He put up fantastic numbers while playing with a very bad Florida Panthers team, so the ability is there. Vokoun just needs a new start and will be able to get back into his groove.
Chris Stewart, St. Louis Blues
Chris Stewart is a restricted free agent this offseason, but he had such a bad season for St. Louis that I believe it is quite possible that the Blues let him walk.
Stewart has shown flashes of brilliance in his young career and could be quite a steal for another team for a couple of reasons.
Other than the fact that he'll be pretty cheap pick-up or trade, Stewart plays his best when he is mad.
He had his breakout year with the Avalanche shortly after having been sent back down to Lake Erie, and came out rocking with St. Louis right after being traded from Colorado.
On both occasions, Stewart was playing with a chip on his shoulder.
If the Blues tender him some small amount, trade him or just let him go, then Stewart will have that same chip back on his shoulder.
He's a bit of a risk, though, as he had a truly terrible 2011-12.
Dennis Wideman, Washington Capitals
Dennis Wideman has a lot of good offensive talent on the back end and has scored up to 50 points in a season before.
Wideman scored a good-sized contract and rewarded the Bruins with a 50-point season in '98-'99. Since then, however, Wideman hasn't revisited 50 points since that time, but did hit 46 this year.
His cap hit of $3.9 million is not likely to change since his production hasn't jumped leaps and bounds, but a defenseman that can get 40 to 50 for his team is worth the value in the cap hit.
The 29-year-old Wideman could be a steal for a team this free agency.
Steve Sullivan, Pittsburgh Penguins
Steve Sullivan is another guy that is past his prime but still provides good scoring depth and a lot of veteran savvy.
He's bound to be pretty inexpensive, and his value would far exceed the terms of his contract.
He brings great energy to every shift and could be a big help to a young team that needs a solid presence.
Sean Avery, Retired
Avery is a bit of a reach, mostly because his off-the-ice antics can definitely have a negative impact in the locker room.
Still, when he is in a good situation, he can be incredibly effective. He's the ultimate pest and can get under the skin of his opponents in various ways.
He can also contribute offensively and is bound to come inexpensive after his unceremonious departure from the Rangers early this year, when he subsequently "retired."
Sean Avery is a giant pain—there is no doubt about that—and is definitely going to be a huge risk for any team that might consider taking him on.
Dustin Penner, LA Kings
As I mentioned in a previous article, Dustin Penner could end up being a steal in the free-agent market this season.
There is no way that he will be worth the $4.25 million cap hit that he currently carries, and he has shown in the past that he is capable of playing a dominating power game when in the right situation.
He hasn't worked out in Los Angeles and will almost definitely be moving on. If Penner can find the right situation, which will definitely involved a much smaller salary, he could up his production.
Sometimes a change of location is all that is needed.
Filip Kuba, Ottawa Senators
Filip Kuba has a few good things going for him going into free agency. First, he's a 6'4", 225-pounder that plays solid defensive hockey.
Second, he has an absolute bomb of a slapshot from the point that would help any team's power play.
Third, after two down seasons as far as points and games played are concerned, Kuba once again managed to top 70 games played and 30 points.
Kuba is 35, so a long-term deal with any type of big money is likely out of the picture, but he could make a solid second-pair defenseman that logs decent power-play time as well.
In the right situation, Kuba could top the 40-point mark once again.
Ruslan Fedotenko, New York Rangers
Aside from having one of the most amusing last names in the NHL, Ruslan Fedotenko is also the kind of teammate you always want to have on your team.
He does everything that he's asked of, plays his heart out and tries to make himself and his teammates better every time he steps on the ice.
He plays the body, has a solid defensive game, forechecks well and can put the puck in the net from time to time.
He's the type of player that completes a team, and the 33-year-old Ukrainian has two Stanley Cups to prove it.
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