There is less than a month away before the madness, and one of the best days in the hockey season, begins. Mark July 1st on the calender as the first time you can declare your team as the new Stanley Cup contender (assuming they sign someone that is).
Although the day is usually a day for players to venture out, test the waters and see which teams are willing to over pay for their services, there are still many who welcome the idea of returning to the team they played on.
Not to knock the other option, but it is always nice to see players show loyalty to their teams. Sure, sometimes it is just not possible to make things work with the salary cap and all, but seeing an effort to stick with their previous club is great.
In the end though, leaving or hanging around with their team, free agency is all about cashing in for young players and for older players to find their best shot at a Stanley Cup. After all, winning the holy grail of hockey is the ultimate prize.
While our list comprises some young players, some old players and even some venturing on retirement, they all bring an aspect to their team that would be greatly missed should they depart.
Without any further ado, here are some of the top free agents who will not be moving come NHL free agency.
With his team one game away from forcing Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Finals, Martin Brodeur could be at a major cross roads in his career.
Should they go on and win the next two games to take home the prize, will Marty retire while being on top? Or, if they are to lose next game, or the game after that, will he want to stick around and try to give himself another chance at glory?
No matter what he chooses, or how the outcome of the Stanley Cup this year turns out, Martin Brodeur has had an unbelievable career. If he does want to return to the Devils next year I am sure they will be more than willing to get a deal done with him.
What the Devils need to do however, is get a young goalie to back up Marty. That way they can use his playing time sparingly, saving him for the playoffs, and make sure their goalie for the future is learning from the best. There is no need to waste Brodeur's experience on Johan Hedburg.
After a start to the 2011/12 season that was not like the Brodeur of old, he turned it around and is now playing goal like he is back in his prime. Either way, Marty has earned the right to another year in the New Jersey crease, should he accept, after his inspiring play during this postseason.
There is almost no doubt in my mind that Shane Doan will re-sign with the Phoenix Coyotes for this upcoming year.
The team's captain has made the desert his home for his whole career, save for his rookie campaign with the Winnipeg Jets. He will be a lifetime Coyote (assuming they stay in Phoenix until the end of his career).
After getting his first true taste of playoff hockey last year with the 'Yotes, Doan will be hungry again to lead the team to the promised land. In other years, would you have blamed him for jumping ship and maybe making the move to a true contender in order to give himself a chance to win a Cup?
Right now, however, the Coyotes are a team that could be a contender come next year after an impressive playoff run and a few solid seasons behind them.
In the end there is no better guy to lead a team. He wears that logo on his heart and gives nothing less than 110 percent on the ice. He would definitely be worth the four to five million he will command for the next four years or so. Just enough for himself to reach retirement as a Coyote.
The big question that revolves around this re-signing would be his asking price.
Last year the Stars were able to pick up the three-time All-Star for only $1.65 million. However, they will not get quite so lucky this year.
Many other teams may look into him as an option to add to their defence, considering Matt Carle of Philadelphia will most likely re-sign and Suter could be commanding more than many teams can afford.
More than anything, Souray, if used properly, could be a good veteran and someone who brings experience to the table. He can lead the young defenceman and be there for guidance.
The Stars should have the first shot at him, and if they can lock him up in a contract that seems fair for what he can still do on the ice then they might as well do it. He scored six goals last year and added 15 assists. For as much liability he can sometimes be in a fast game, he still brings size and power to both ends of the ice.
Jagr wants to be back in a Philly jersey next year, but will the Flyers want him?
It would make a ton of sense to sign him for another year. Especially a team that has so many rookies coming through the system expecting to be getting a lot of ice time next year. Jagr can be a great mentor and someone to look up too for young players, assuming he realizes that is part of his role.
Also, let's not forget either he can still play the game with best.
Last year he was able to put up 54 points in 73 games, and considering he is 40 years old that is amazing. Any team could do with that type of production coming from a player, but it looks like Philly is where Jagr wants to be.
CSNPhilly.com Tim Panaccio reported (via NHL.com) that the team is seriously considering bringing him back:
"We have interest in Jaromir," Philly GM Paul Holmgren said.
This is also reinforced by Petr Svoboda, Jagr's agent:
"I've talked to Jaromir and I have talked to [Flyers GM] Paul [Holmgren] and we hope to get something done before the draft."
Jagr would be a great addition to bring back to the team. He is not only a world-class player, and one of the all-time greats, but a player who excelled in a Philly jersey last year.
With the injury to Chris Pronger this past season, Carle quickly became one of the Flyers go-to guys on the back-end.
With a salary of $3.8 million last year, he will command somewhere in that vicinity over a few years. Maybe a four-year deal worth somewhere between $16-18 million would be a good bet. He has shown so far that he is definitely worth that type of money.
He has been a consistent performer for the Flyers blue line, and chips in with some points. He looks like he will be around a 40-point player. Carle is a very good skater, and uses that mobility to both jump up into the offensive zone and get to pucks in his own end.
According to Mike Halford of NBC Sports, GM Paul Homgren says that Pronger's injury is still fresh:
"He continues to have some good days and then some bad days. So I don't know if that's any update. He struggles."
If Pronger is not able to return, then Carle will be needed more than ever on the Philadelphia blue line.
Even though Mike Smith showed us in the playoffs that he is able to carry the team, Whitney is a key catalyst on the Coyotes offense. Age does not seem to matter to 'The Wizard' and he keeps producing, which is needed on a team that does not offer any big-time scorers in its lineup.
Although Doan will be the Coyotes number one priority, Whitney has to be a close second.
His age is getting up there (he is now 40 years old) but if he can still put together 77 points in a season like he did last year then he is well worth the money.
Expect a two-year deal (could be only one though) for a little more than the $3 million he made last year. About $4 million would be a good number for both. He put together his second-best offensive output of his career last year and should expect a raise.
The Coyotes need to make this work as Doan does not provide as much of an offensive threat for the team. This is certainly an element that Whitney can help with, and otherwise it will be something the Coyotes will lack going into next year.
It will either be a decision to play another season for the Red Wings, or Holmstrom will take the same path his friend Nick Lidstrom took.
Holmstrom reinforces this thought, according to Bill Roose, the managing editor for DetroitRedWings.com:
"No, I'll never go anywhere else, I'd rather retire before that."
Although not near the same player he used to be, with injuries catching up too him and slowly taking a hard toll on his body, if he wants to be back, Detroit will sign him to something.
After losing Lidstrom, if they were to sign Holmstrom it would a one-year deal worth about $1 million dollars. It would be more for him, and the fans, then the team. He has been a key the Red Wings previous years success and it would be nothing less than classy for the organization to keep him around.
Although he was still able to contribute and put together 24 points last season, the Red Wings can not let him be a piece to next year's puzzle. If he can handle playing limited minutes and stepping out in front of the net during the power play, then that would work.
Most of all however, they need Holmstrom to take on a role that involves leading the next group of players who are coming up through the Detroit system. There is no doubt he is the best at playing in front of the net, and getting garbage goals, so he needs to relay that skill on some of the young Red Wing forwards.
He is biggest name on the free-agent market for defenseman come July 1st and easily a combatant for the most sought after free agent in the whole league, alongside Zach Parise of the New Jersey Devils.
Suter will be commanding a high asking price to whatever team is able to land him.
This was a tough one to look at, with my heart saying he will stay, and my gut saying he is going. Nonetheless, after the recent news of meetings between Suter and the Nashville Predators things may turn out to be more optimistic that he will be able to re-sign after all.
Josh Cooper of The Tennessean reported that General Manager David Poile met with the Predators star at his home in Wisconsin. Poile talks of how well the meetings went between the two:
The meetings were very, very good. They were very positive and very constructive and went through a lot of things. There's no negatives that I hear in terms of what would be a reason to not come back to Nashville. Having said that, we still don't have a deal, but I'm still optimistic and still going to keep constant dialogue in this process.
In the end it looks like the team is trying to bring him back next year, and seems as if that is where Suter wants to be.