While the NHL lockout continues, it seems increasingly unlikely that the puck will ever drop on the 2012-13 NHL season, which will obviously impact all 30 teams when the league eventually opens its doors for business.
As a result, there will be a wide variety of marquee players set to hit the free-agent market prior to to the 2013-14 campaign, which will force a number of teams to look back with regret on the summer of 2012.
Outside of the elite players that will be without contracts for next season, a bunch of big names will remain with their current teams, who unfortunately, will wish they'd made deals prior to the work stoppage.
Here's a look at some of the high-profile guys who teams will eventually regret not moving prior to the lockout.
As the longtime face of the San Jose Sharks franchise, Patrick Marleau wouldn’t have come cheap for any potential trade suitors, at least prior to the 2012 NHL lockout. Now, with a likely decrease in the salary cap, Marleau’s $6.9 million doesn’t seem so reasonable for a guy whose goal and point totals have been in a steady decline for the last three seasons.
The former No. 2 overall pick will undoubtedly one day see his jersey hanging from the rafters at HP Pavilion, but at this point, unless Marleau’s looking to take a serious pay cut to remain in San Jose beyond 2013-14, the Sharks should have tried to get something of substance for him instead of simply losing him to free agency next summer.
With Nail Yakupov, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle in the fold, the Oilers’ need for a streaky scorer like Ales Hemsky has decreased exponentially, and should have tried to peddle him for a defenseman on Draft Day instead of hanging onto him.
Given his $5 million cap hit, with only one year remaining on his deal, Edmonton won’t get much for Hemsky, and he’ll be on his way to a contending team at a discounted price tag by the time the 2014-15 season rolls around.
Regardless of his trade value, $5 million is far too much to pay a guy that hasn’t hit 50 points in three seasons.
The Vancouver Canucks made a statement by benching Roberto Luongo, the team’s iconic puck-stopper, in the team’s opening-round showdown with the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Kings in the spring of 2012.
It’s a foregone conclusion that Luongo will be donning a new jersey next season, but the return Mike Gillis will fetch won’t be what it could have been had the Canucks dealt the embattled superstar immediately following the postseason.
He’s certainly still a quality No. 1 goaltender in the NHL, but given his albatross of a contract, sticking with Cory Schneider is the best course of action for Vancouver.
He’s been a solid captain for the Islanders, but with New York in the midst of yet another youth movement, it’s far from a lock that All-Star defenseman Mark Streit will be back on Long Island when the NHL resumes play.
If he were to stay with the Isles, he’d undoubtedly have to take a pay cut to do so, and considering that the Swiss puck-mover’s a 35-year-old unrestricted free agent as of July 1, Garth Snow should’ve tried to get some sort of return for the captain.
Besides, it’s time for John Tavares to take over as captain, considering he’s already grown into the role of being the team’s on-ice leader.
Yeah, the Penguins already dealt Zbynek Michalek at the beginning of the summer, but if Ray Shero wants to re-sign Brooks Orpik and Kris Letang to to long-term deals, it’ll be tough to fit three rearguards making $5 million or more under the salary cap.
At this stage, Martin isn’t worth $5 million to Pittsburgh, but for a team in need of a solid puck-mover, he will be.
It wasn't long ago that Paul Stastny was the Colorado Avalanche's franchise player, but since the Avs acquired Matt Duchene, Erik Johnson, Ryan O'Reilly and newly minted captain Gabriel Landeskog, the former All-Star isn't worth his current cap hit of over $6 million.
There's no doubting his abilities, especially considering his Hall of Fame bloodlines, but Stastny has taken some significant steps back since his 79-point campaign in 2009-10.
Now, the 2010 Olympic silver medalist is more expendable than ever before, and when his current deal expires in the summer of 2014, the Avs should let him walk if he wants anything close to his current contract.
If that's the case, the Avs would've been better suited to deal him prior to the lockout.