NHL Free Agent Speculation: The 5 Best Remaining UFAs and Where They Could Sign
As is the case every year, the month following the early July free agent frenzy is generally a quiet one for hockey fans, as the vast majority of the top prizes on the market have been lured to new teams, or swayed into staying put with their current clubs.
This off-season is a particularly complicated one for general managers across the league, due both to the lack of options available on the free agent and trade markets, as well as the soon-to-be expired collective bargaining agreement between the league and the NHLPA.
The need for a new CBA has forced teams to think twice before offering up long-term deals to players with track records marred with inconsistency, injuries or problems with attitude, leaving a handful of high-profile free agents on the market even as we approach late July.
Though the summer's biggest names like Ryan Suter, Zach Parise and Jaromir Jagr have already been inked to new deals, a few impact players remain, so here's a look at where the best available free agents are most likely to land.
Going into July, Alexander Semin was widely regarded as the best available scorer on the market not named Zach Parise, and for good reason.
In his six full NHL seasons since the lockout, Semin has notched 30 goals three times, highlighted by a 40-goal, 84-point campaign in 2009-10. In terms of pure skill and offensive ability, Semin is undoubtedly one of the best players in the league, but that's never been the issue with the 28-year-old Russian.
Instead of fielding rich multi-year offers, Semin has been rumored to have received short-term deals, which, according to Carolina's Jim Rutherford in a recent CBS Sports article, is largely due to Semin's lack of discipline and commitment.
Though it's been suggested that Semin could join countryman Alexander Radulov in bolting for the KHL, Semin seems to realize that he still has much to prove at the NHL level, and if he gets an offer long enough for his liking, he'll be staying in North America.
Recently, NBC Sports reported that Pittsburgh's Dan Bylsma thinks highly of Semin, and that he may be on the verge of signing a one-year deal with the Penguins. If that's the case, Semin will instantly become public enemy No. 1 in Washington, but it's not like that's ever bothered the mercurial sniper in the past.
The chance to skate alongside Sidney Crosby and prove to the Capitals that they were wrong to let him go may be just enough to lure Semin to the 'burgh, even if it's only for a year.
Just months after the Kostitsyn brothers were reunited in Nashville following Andrei's trade from Montreal at the deadline, at least one appears to be in need of a new employer.
Andrei, the older of the two Belarusian forwards, wore out his welcome in Music City in a hurry, when he and Alexander Radulov were suspended by the team for a curfew violation during the Predators' second round loss to the Phoenix Coyotes, and it seems that the Predators have had enough already.
Despite the suspension, Kostitsyn is one of the most talented forwards left on the market, and could serve as a consolation prize for teams who struck out in the Zach Parise sweepstakes, as the 27-year-old winger is a three-time 20-goal scorer.
Prediction: New Jersey
The Devils need a scorer to replace Parise, and though Kostitsyn can't be counted upon to fill the skates of the team's former captain, he'd certainly help make up for some of the offense they've lost since July 4th.
Nobody would fault Shane Doan for leaving Phoenix, despite his role as team captain, primarily because the 35-year-old has, without any complaints, continued to be the face of a franchise for a team in the midst of an ongoing ownership soap opera.
Now entering the twilight of his career, Doan is no longer the offensive threat he once was, but the Alberta native is still perfectly capable of contributing 50-60 points, while providing valuable leadership qualities to whichever team he chooses to sign with.
Recently, Doan pushed his July 9 signing deadline back, in order to accommodate the Coyotes in their quest for a new owner, but if a deal can't be hammered out within the next week, look for the former Olympian to hit the open market.
Doan's heart clearly lies with the Coyotes, and with the team coming off its first-ever Conference Finals berth in Phoenix, he'll re-sign with the only franchise he's ever known, even if it's only for a year.
As a valuable member of the St. Louis Blues' surprising 2011-12 season that saw the team capture the second seed in the Western Conference, Carlo Colaiacovo should've been a coveted commodity when free agency opened on July 1st.
For whatever reason, he wasn't, and heading into mid-July, Colaiacovo remains unsigned. It seems extremely unlikely that he'll be back with the Blues next season.
A solid two-way defenseman who still doesn't appear to have reached his ceiling offensively, Colaiacovo will certainly be in the NHL this fall, but where and at what cost remains to be seen.
Yesterday, an ESPN.com article suggested that he could be picked up by the Red Wings or Flyers, both of whom are in need of reinforcements on the back end after losing Nicklas Lidstrom and Matt Carle, respectively.
The chance to prove the Blues wrong by signing with a hated division rival would be a nice consolation for the 29-year-old, and the Wings have a history of making good on reclamation projects.
Coming off a monster contract that paid Rozsival, 32, an average of $5 million a season, the Czech defenseman will be looking at a sizable reduction in salary this season.
That being said, Rozsival was a top-four defenseman on a Conference finalist in Phoenix, so it's clear that he still brings a lot to the table, and he'll certainly find a new home by the end of the summer.
Teams like the Edmonton Oilers, Washington Capitals and Anaheim Ducks, all in need of a veteran presence on the back would be nice fits for the two-way rearguard, but things have been quiet around the league with regards to Rozsival.
He won't be back in the desert, unless he returns at half the cost of his last contract. But if his future isn't in Phoenix, he'll have his choice of at least a handful of suitors before the off-season comes to a close.
This one's tough to call, but he'd be a great fit in Edmonton, and could help provide stability on a team that is in dire need of a veteran presence on the back end.
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