NHL Free Agency: 6 Teams That Can Still Make Big Offers
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Many of the top names may have been signed in NHL free agency, but there are still teams looking to make a huge splash this summer.
The amount of big-name free agents is dwindling, and buyers now seem interested in the same small group of players. As teams use the offseason to push their rosters over the top, bidding wars are emerging for the few talents left on the market. Where these guys will go is uncertain, but whatever the destination, they will get paid handsomely.
However, there are also a couple of teams struggling to hit the salary floor of $48.3 million. These organizations might not want to invest big money in any of the guys left on the market, but the collective bargaining agreement mandates they pass out some salaries this summer.
Whether they are spending to win or padding their ledgers, here are six teams that could still hand out big contracts this summer.
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If Ryan Suter hadn't gotten away, the Nashville Predators wouldn't be struggling to hit the salary floor.
According to CapGeek, Nashville has a cap payroll of $40.8 million, about $7.5 million below the floor. There would be no problem for the Predators if they had resigned their top-flight blueliner, Suter, who signed a deal with the Minnesota Wild with a cap hit of, you guessed it, $7.5 million.
This leaves Nashville with money to spend and a defenseman to sign. The easy way to do it would be to resign Shea Weber, the Predator's other All-Star-caliber blueliner. If Philadelphia's offer sheet is too expensive, the Predators will need to go after multiple players to shore up their financial deficit.
The best blueliner remaining is probably Michal Rozsival, which is not very good news for Nashville. He is not worth even half of what the Predators need to spend, but he could very well get that much out of necessity.
If he does, the Predators will likely look to add some offense as well, possibly resigning Andrei Kostitsyn or making a run at Shane Doan to spend the balance.
It remains to be seen if the top remaining free agents will be interested in coming to Nashville. The Predators have money to burn though, and they will find a way to spend it one way or another.
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Shane Doan might return to Phoenix for another run at a title, but he's certainly taking his time about it.
The Arizona Republic reports that the Coyotes don't mind waiting for Doan's decision, with GM Don Maloney expressing confidence that they will ultimately bring their captain back into the fold.
"I still remain confident that we will be able to sign Shane," Maloney said. "Nothing has changed in that respect. We still have regular communication despite everything you see and read."
If the Coyotes do resign Doan, they will avoid the problem Nashville is currently facing. Phoenix is about $4 million shy of the salary floor, a gap that Doan's resigning would certainly bridge.
While the Coyotes seems committed to put all of their eggs in one basket, it will blow up in their faces if Doan goes elsewhere. Maloney said it "may be weeks" before Doan signs; if he walks, Phoenix may be unable to find another big winger worth the money.
Doan has been nothing if not loyal over his 17-year career. Phoenix has to hope he remains so if they want to get their money's worth in free agency.
New York Islanders
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When it comes to the New York Islanders' offense, something has got to give.
Last season, the Islanders tied for last in the Eastern Conference in scoring, averaging only 2.47 goals per game on the year. Though the Islanders have been loathe to improve through free agency in recent years, they need to pull out the stops to revive their moribund attack.
News has been quiet out of Long Island, but if the Islanders really want a scoring punch, they must take a long look at Alexander Semin.
The former Washington Capital is coming off a down year; his 21 goals were his fewest since 2003-04. On the other hand, only two Islanders are coming off of 50-point seasons, and Semin is only two years removed from a 40-goal campaign. He is too explosive a talent to ignore.
If the Islanders want to improve their offense, they'll have to spend to get it done; they cannot afford to keep doing more of the same.
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Doan and Semin suitors could be disappointed if the Penguins have their way.
According to Sporting News, Pittsburgh has already offered Doan a contract, though no terms were disclosed. Much like with Phoenix, however, Doan has given no timetable on his decision. In all likelihood, Doan will not slight the only team he has ever known; expect to see him back in the desert before you see him playing for an Eastern Conference contender.
If the overtures to Doan fall through, expect the Penguins to make a push for Semin. NBC Sports has passed along rumors saying Pittsburgh is interested in the Russian scorer. Bylsma lauded Semin as "a dangerous weapon," and the media thought Semin was close to signing a one-year deal with the Penguins.
No deal has happened yet, but the Penguins should land a new winger eventually. They have enough money to attract a free agent to Pittsburgh, and the lure of a Stanley Cup run will be too much to pass up.
New York Rangers
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Pittsburgh isn't the only contender that might be interested in Doan's services.
The Rangers have been looking to acquire Rick Nash from the Blue Jackets, but there has been little talk of a trade in recent weeks. Instead, it appears New York wants to add some offense through free agency.
According to NBC Sports, the Rangers are "in the hunt" to sign Doan, though there is no word on if they've extended him an offer yet.
For a team that already has elite offensive players in Marion Gaborik and Brad Richards, Doan would be a suitable replacement for Nash. He is a power forward who plays hard-nosed hockey at both ends of the ice, traits that would fit well on John Torterella's team.
So far this offseason, the Rangers have not been big players on the free agent market, but look for them to jump in if their play for Nash falls through.
Detroit Red Wings
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While the Rangers may be interested in Doan, the Red Wings have set their hearts on him.
The News-Herald reports the Red Wings have extended an offer to the popular veteran. As with Doan's many other suitors, Detroit will have to wait. What sets the Red Wings apart, however, is that Doan is the their one and only target.
Doan would be able to slip in seamlessly to Detroit's tough, veteran-laden roster. It is for this reason that the Red Wings have little interest in a guy like Semin. Hockeytown is full of grinders; there is little desire for an infusion of finesse.
Detroit will wait as long as it takes for Doan, and it seems like half the league could be waiting with them.
If the Red Wings don't get him, perhaps the Penguins will swoop in, or maybe Doan will finish out his career in Phoenix. The one thing we do know is that Doan is the toast of the free-agent market, and the lucky team that signs him will spend a chunk of money for the privilege.