NHL Free Agency: 12 "Glue Guys" Still Out There Who Can Make a Difference
On July 1, hockey writers and broadcasters warm up their Blackberry fingers and get ready for the big free-agent frenzy to begin.
On August 1, the media is either at the Olympics—or on holiday at the lake.
With the exception of Shane Doan, most of the big names have found their next homes. Doan is still most likely to re-sign with the Coyotes, though he continues to meet with other teams. If he makes a move, it sounds like he'll be richly compensated by the suitor he chooses.
For more budget-conscious general managers, there are still a few unsigned free agents who could make a difference for the right team, at the right price. Here's a look at twelve "glue guys" that could get signed in August.
2011-12 Salary: $2.875 million including performance bonuses
2011-12 Stats: 72 GP 17-17-34 plus-13
Career NHL Games: 1244 regular season 122 playoffs
Scored Stanley Cup winning goal for New Jersey in 2000.
Jason Arnott is a big, strong center who was a catalyst for the improvement of the St. Louis Blues in 2011-12. He was a solid veteran presence in the locker room for a young team, and has been impressively durable throughout his career.
Andy Strickland at truehockey.com reports that Arnott had knee surgery after the season was over, but is expected to be one hundred percent for the start of the season.
The Blues still have plenty of cap space. If St. Louis doesn't reach an agreement to bring back Arnott, plenty of other teams would be interested in this "glue guy" if the price was right.
2011-12 Salary: $2.5 million
2011-12 Stats: 64 GP 2-17-19 plus-7
Career NHL Games: 370 regular season 11 playoffs
Carlo Colaiacovo has evolved into a solid NHL defender with St. Louis. Somewhat injury prone, he has never played more than 67 games in a season.
As he enters his prime playing years, he's looking for a raise on last year's $2.5 million. He'll provide steady minutes on the back end for the Blues, or another team that chooses to sign him.
2011-12 Salary: $1.5 million
2011-12 Stats: 72 GP 4-17-21 minus-16
Career NHL Games: 1191 regular season 39 playoffs
Still, Dvorak has some skill, and if he plays at a salary close to last year's $1.5 million, he could plug a hole for a veteran presence on right wing.
2011-12 Salary: $650,000
2011-12 Stats: 82 GP 21-23-44 plus-4
Career NHL Games: 1017 regular season 133 playoffs
Won Stanley Cup in 2000 with New Jersey and 2009 with Pittsburgh. Has appeared in six Stanley Cup Finals in total.
Petr Sykora might have been the biggest bargain in the NHL last season. After a year in Europe, he came back to the New Jersey Devils on a tryout during the 2011 training camp, and signed a $650,000 contract.
He went on to play every regular-season game, then 18 games in the playoffs on his way to his sixth appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Sykora should be looking for a raise, but if he can match that performance he'll still be good value whether he signs with his seventh NHL team or sticks with the Devils.
2011-12 Salary: $900,000
2011-12 Stats: 56 GP 6-10-16 plus-8
Career NHL Games: 94 regular season 3 playoffs
After a promising NHL debut with the Ottawa Senators in 2010-11, Bobby Butler fell from favor under Paul MacLean's system last season. He scored just six goals, and had the second year of his contract bought out, under which he would have made $1.2 million.
Butler had a strong college hockey career and was a Hobey Baker finalist. At 25, will he take a pay cut or a two-way salary to prove to another team that he can produce at the NHL level?
2011-12 Salary: $3.5 million
Career NHL Games: 970 regular season 51 playoffs
Won Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay in 2004.
Pavel Kubina is on the downside of a fruitful NHL career, but at 6'4" and 258 pounds, he can still provide a crushing physical presence on the blue line.
The Flyers hoped he'd fill a void for them during their playoff run. There's little doubt that someone will ink the big Czech before the regular season begins.
2011-12 Salary: $1.5 million
2011-12 Stats: 74 GP 11-13-24 minus-9
Career NHL Games: 1026 regular season 180 playoffs
Won four Stanley Cups with Detroit in 1997, 1998, 2002, 2008
With Nicklas Lidstrom's retirement, Holmstrom becomes the last remaining Red Wing to have played on the 1997 and 1998 Cup-winning teams.
Considering that his playing style is built more on grit than finesse, it's likely the Red Wings still have room on their roster to keep Holmstrom around for one more season as they enter a rebuilding phase.
2011-12 Salary: N/A retired
2011-12 Stats: N/A retired
Career NHL Games: 1449 regular season 176 playoff
Won Stanley Cup with Dallas in 1999.
After a year away from hockey, Mike Modano told reporters in July that he'd be willing to consider a comeback.
The Buffalo News reported that Modano said he was disappointed by his final injury-plagued season in Detroit and hasn't ruled out a comeback.
There's a sour taste in my mouth with the way [my career] ended. I thought it could be more of a fairytale departure. I don't know if I'm still looking for that or what, but I'm not totally pulling that option off the table.
With veterans Ray Whitney and Jaromir Jagr signing substantial contracts with the Stars, Modano could fit right in with the squad where he spent most of his career. Minnesota has also been named as a possible destination.
A comeback at 42 would be against long odds, but it seems like Modano's interested, and could find himself a home.
2011-12 Salary: $3 million
2011-12 Stats: 54 GP 1-12-13 plus-8
Career NHL Games: 756 regular season 52 playoffs
Michal Rozsival was a solid defensive presence for the Phoenix Coyotes throughout their 2012 playoff run. That should help him sign a decent new contract with a club looking for some veteran help on the blue line.
His bargaining may be hampered, however, by the lingering image of him writhing on the ice in the fetal position after Dustin Brown's thunderous hit, moments before the Los Angeles Kings scored in overtime to win the Western Conference Final.
Sportsnet.ca reported that Rozsival did not suffer structural damage to his knee from Brown's hit, so if his health is solid we can expect him to be signed before the season starts.
2011-12 Salary: $4.55 million
2011-12 Stats: 79 GP 22-28-50 minus-8
Career NHL Games: 1198 regular season 55 playoffs
Shane Doan and his agent have marketed him as the ultimate "glue guy" this summer, and rumours persist that the Coyotes captain has a four-year $30 million offer on the table, along with numerous other options.
Having spent his entire career with the Coyotes organization, it seems like Doan is basking in the attention he's receiving from so many squads. He's definitely building leverage for a new deal with Phoenix if he does decide to re-sign.
Nothing is settled yet with regards to the ownership situation in the desert. Will there come a time when Doan needs to cash in before his suitors start dropping out and filling up their squads with other players?
2011-12 Salary: $3 million
2011-12 Stats: 45 GP 7-5-12 minus-4
Career NHL Games: 871 regular season 30 playoffs
Jason Blake has been struggling to live up to his potential for so long, it's hard to believe he's now 38-years-old.
2011-12 was the final season of the big deal he signed while he was with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He scored just 12 points in 45 games, after battling back from a serious wrist injury from a skate cut in the third game of the season.
Blake had arguably his best game of the year in January against Vancouver, shortly after returning from that injury. He dominated with two goals and an assist, with an amazing ten shots on goal.
Blake won't get a $3 million offer for next season, but he might still have the spark to provide some offense in the right role.
2011-12 Salary: $1.1 million
2011-12 Stats: 81 GP 4-8-12 plus-13
Career NHL Games: 615 regular season 16 playoffs
Tom Kostopoulos is a grinding winger who could provide a physical presence up front for the right team. He's hard-working and aggressive, and chipped in on offense from time to time during his last two seasons with Calgary.
Kostopoulos is also known as a good guy in the room. He wouldn't be expensive, so he's likely to get snapped up before the start of the season.
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