NHL Free Agency 2012: Will Petr Sykora Turn His Success into Big Money?

Robert TheodorsonSenior Analyst IJuly 16, 2012

NEWARK, NJ - MAY 06: Petr Sykora #15 of the New Jersey Devils celebrates his powerplay goal at 15:14 of the first period against the Philadelphia Flyers in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Prudential Center on May 6, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Petr Sykora has been to six Stanley Cup Finals in his remarkable career, yet is struggling to find a job in the NHL.

After being invited to try out with the Devils last season, Sykora was signed to a one-year deal worth $650,000 with no performance incentives. 

The 35-year-old veteran's return to his original team helped him have a renaissance year. Sykora was able to recapture his chemistry with former linemate and fellow countryman Patrik Elias, scoring 21 goals and picking up 23 assists. 

With plenty of salary cap room and a comfortable, familiar environment in New Jersey, there is little reason for the veteran forward to try to move on to greener pastures and pick up a fatter paycheck. The Devils have the ability to give Sykora a 100 percent raise, which still is not that much, and meanwhile, provide Petr with the best chance to win, after falling just short of what would have been his third Stanley Cup. 

While he was a healthy scratch for part of the Finals, Sykora didn't exactly flop in the playoffs. Considered a role player at this point in his career, New Jersey did not expect the old forward to put up second-line scoring numbers.

While five points in 18 games certainly did not help lift his stock this offseason, it can't be used against him as much as one would think.

A former first-round pick and 2000 Stanley Cup Champion with the Devils, it's reasonable to expect management to welcome Petr back with open arms. Sykora is a proud competitor and most likely looking for a final contract in excess of $1 million, which is more than justified after a 20-goal season and lengthy playoff run. 

With free-agent snipers Alex Semin and the Kostitsyn brothers still on the market without contracts, don't expect many teams to go after the older, slower, but more experienced Sykora.