NHL Free Agents to Be That WIll Be Under the Microscope When Play Resumes

Tom Urtz Jr.Contributor IDecember 27, 2012

NHL Free Agents to Be That WIll Be Under the Microscope When Play Resumes

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    The NHL free agent period from last summer was one of the most memorable in recent memory, because of players like Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, and how their signings affected the free agency market.

    Next summer, Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf will highlight a deep free agency pool that will open on July 1st, 2013.

    Although the NHL is currently locked out, many players are overseas and others are training at home. Once the season starts, certain players will be under the microscope because they are about to hit the free agent market in 2013.

    Here are free agents to be that will be under the microscope once play resumes.

Ryan Getzlaf

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    Ryan Getzlaf is coming off his worst statistical season to date in the NHL, and he is going to be the top center on the free agent market.

    He should draw a lot of interest because of his size and talent, so he will be under a ton of supervision once play resumes.

    Getzlaf will need to play well in order to increase his asking price, because teams will want the Ryan Getzlaf who had 66 assists and 91 points in 2008-09, not the Ryan Getzlaf from 2011-12.

Travis Zajac

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    Travis Zajac is a talented young center on the rise, and he will be under the microscope once play resumes, because prospective teams want to know if he is completely healthy.

    Zajac missed all but 15 games in 2011-12 after suffering an injury. He is a player who projects to be a top line center, and he could fetch a pretty penny on the free agency market once Ryan Getzlaf is no longer available.

Jaromir Jagr

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    Jaromir Jagr signed a one-year-deal with the Dallas Stars this past offseason, and at the age of 40, he is nearing the end of his career.

    Jagr returned to the NHL last season and had a solid return season with the Philadelphia Flyers. The future Hall-of-Fame winger's health and abilities will be monitored with scrutiny when on-ice play returns because he still has one of the deadliest shots in the NHL.

Jarome Iginla

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    Jarome Iginla will become a free agent after the 2012-13 season, and when on-ice play does resume he will be watched very carefully.

    Iginla will be one of the top veteran wingers on the market, and how he performs during a short season will dictate his value to prospective teams.

    He won't be the biggest name on the market, but teams will be watching him closely to see what he can still do.

Mike Smith

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    Mike Smith is going to be one of the top goaltenders on the 2013 free agency market, and teams will pay ton of attention to him when on-ice play resumes.

    Smith finished fourth in the NHL's Vezina Trophy voting, and his breakout year was better than anything he had accomplished up to this point in his career.

    Teams will be interested to see if Smith is nothing more than a one-hit wonder, but if he is the real deal, he stands to make a ton of money during free agency. 

Stephen Weiss

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    Stephen Weiss is a center for the Florida Panthers who is in the final year of a six-year-deal, and will be watched with scrutiny because of his abilities.

    Weiss would be the third-best center on the open market, and although it is likely that he will be retained by Florida, many teams will keep an eye on him because of his consistency. 

    Over the past few seasons, Weiss has been in the 50-60 point range, and based on recent free agency periods he could earn between $4 and $5 million a year from a team willing to pay for a top-six center.

Simon Gagne

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    Simon Gagne is an immensely talented, but often injured winger for the Los Angeles Kings.

    He is a player who could be a top-15 scorer in the NHL if he was able to stay healthy, and for that reason teams will pay attention to his production and health when on-ice action returns.

    If Gagne can play above expectations, he should be able to wrangle himself a nice payday over a year or two.

Alex Semin

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    Alex Semin signed a one-year-deal with the Carolina Hurricanes for $7 million dollars, so he is going to be under a pretty big microscope once the season starts.

    It was a huge contract for a player who was coming off consecutive 54 point seasons with Washington, so if Semin doesn't perform, he could end up in the KHL.

Ryane Clowe

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    Ryane Clowe is going to be one of the top wingers on the market in 2013, and teams will be interested to see if he can return to top form.

    He is a physical winger who has offensive upside, so if he can return to the 62-point player he was in 2010-11, he should have no problem earning a solid contract.

Joffrey Lupul

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    Joffrey Lupul has a career year in 2011-12, so many teams will watch to see if he can repeat his efforts in 2012-13. He is slated to be one of the top free agents in 2013, so there will be a lot of eyes on him

    The 2012-13 season will be significantly shorter, but teams want to see that his career year wasn't a fluke, and that Lupul is a player capable of being one of the top scorers in the NHL.

Nathan Horton

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    Nathan Horton will be returning from a concussion once the 2012-13 season starts, and with the emergence of Milan Lucic as a top-end power forward, it is possible that Horton isn't resigned.

    However, Horton is still a player who has to prove that he can be an effective NHL power forward, and that he is back to the shape he was in before being sidelined.