The NHL’s release date for the next free-agent class―July 1, 2013―is officially closer ahead than the release date for the 2012 class is behind.
Even with the delayed puck-drop on this season set for next weekend, by no means should anyone clear the future of those free agents out of their minds. Nor should the players in question lose sight of their options beyond the shortened 2012-13 season.
Although, there are handfuls of pending unrestricted and restricted free agents who can make the process easier for themselves and their current employers by recognizing the unmatchable benefits of staying.
These players either have a good thing going with their current team or, if all goes according to plan, will be on or approaching a clear-cut path to a rosier situation as 2012-13 unfolds.
They either have an established role on an established contender or are on their way to being tasked with maintaining a franchise’s sustained or newfound relevance.
That notion applies to several more than those who are featured on this list, but for the sake of selectivity, here are 10, with a limit of one per team.