NHL Free Agency: 15 Players That Will Be the Best Buys for 2013
Getting the most value for your free-agent signing is what every NHL general manager strives for each summer.
Signing star players is great, but finding guys who can offer so many skills to your team will be the most important signings of the offseason.
These are the guys who can be the final pieces to a team's Stanley Cup puzzle. Let's look at 15 players who will be the best buys for the 2012-13 season.
Ray Whitney is one of those veterans that you can depend on to be a factor offensively almost every game. He's a reliable player whose leadership skills and playoff experience will really help a contending team.
Signing a physical defenseman that has lots of playoff experience like Brad Stuart would be a great pickup for a team that needs just a few more pieces for a Stanley Cup run.
The San Jose Sharks, New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators should consider making an offer for Stuart.
Chris Kelly rejuvenated his career with the Boston Bruins over the last year and a half and showed the hockey world that he's a top-tier defensive forward who can also play well in the playoffs.
His combination of defensive talent, goal scoring, and leadership will make him a sought-after player if he hits free agency on July 1.
Before the playoffs started, putting a player like Dustin Penner on this list would have seemed like a bad idea.
However, Penner has 13 points in 18 playoff games and just looks like he's enjoying himself a lot more during the postseason than he was in the regular season.
As a two-time Stanley Cup champion and a former captain, Jamie Langenbrunner is the perfect veteran leader for a young team that needs someone who has gone through Stanley Cup battles before.
Finding reliable defenseman for your third pairing is important, and being that guy is a role that Bryan Allen can shine in for a contending team. He's a veteran blueliner who won't make mistakes in his own end.
Playing with a contending team like the Boston Bruins for the last part of the season proved how valuable of a veteran that Brian Rolston can be to a playoff-caliber team.
His shot is still strong, and he can also bring a team Stanley Cup-winning experience.
I expect Jaromir Jagr to re-sign with the Philadelphia Flyers, but any other team that has interest in him should make an offer because the veteran forward can still be a factor offensively and has all the playoff experience you could ever want.
Quality goaltending will be hard to find this summer unless you want to extend an offer sheet to a restricted free agent or make a major trade.
Josh Harding is probably the best unrestricted free agent goaltender hitting the market this summer, and he could certainly start for a number of teams, such as the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Paul Gaustad is a solid third-line center who can provide veteran leadership, penalty killing and good faceoff skills.
He would be a signing for a contending team that lacks depth at the center position. The Nashville Predators were willing to give up a first-round pick to acquire him at the trade deadline in February.
Bryce Salvador has played well for the New Jersey Devils during the playoffs and has proven himself as a quality defensive player who can be reliable in his own end.
Salvador would really help a contending team looking for a veteran presence on their third defensive pairing.
The Devils should think about keeping him if the price is right, but they have more important free agents, such as Zach Parise, who are a bigger priority.
Mike Knuble won't be a major factor offensively at this point in his career, but he's a veteran player with a ton of experience that can be relied on in the playoffs.
He would be a quality third-line player for a contending team that needs some goalscoring and toughness on the bottom lines.
Jarret Stoll has proven in the playoffs that he's still a solid center who can be effective at both ends of the ice and add some toughness to his line.
He might be too expensive for the Kings to bring back this summer, but he will be a sought-after player as a veteran with a good all-around skill set and Stanley Cup experience.
Zach Parise is one of two superstars I will include on this list because you know exactly what you are getting with the Devils captain.
He's a reliable 30-plus goal scorer who can provide leadership and tough, physical play. He's one of the safest free agents of the offseason.
Ryan Suter is the only superstar unrestricted free-agent defenseman this summer, and there's not a safer signing out there.
He makes a profound impact at both ends of the ice and can play well in any type of situation, including the power play and penalty kill.
He's almost always well-positioned and does a fantastic job making like difficult for opposing team's best scorers.