NHL Free Agency: 6 Players Who Would Be Wise to Stay Put in 2013

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistJanuary 24, 2013

NHL Free Agency: 6 Players Who Would Be Wise to Stay Put in 2013

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    Free agency is often an excellent vehicle for any athlete who is unhappy with the state of his contract.

    When an NHL player has put together one or two excellent statistical years, going the free agency route is a chance to get rewarded for those years.

    However, it is not without risk. When you leave your current employer for a bigger paycheck in a new location, it doesn't always work out. It's nice on the 1st and 15th when the paycheck gets deposited, but if the work environment stinks, it may not be worth the change.

    Here's a look at six players who will be free agents at the end of the 2013 season and would be better off staying with their current employers.

    All salary and contract information is provided by CapGeek.com

Niklas Backstrom, Minnesota Wild

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    Niklas Backstrom may be the top free-agent goalie available in the offseason.

    Backstrom is earning $6 million (prorated) this season to play goal for the Minnesota Wild. The 34-year-old has been toiling in recent years for a team that has struggled to play respectable hockey, but this is the year that the Wild could turn it around.

    The Wild appear to be a much more dangerous and improved team as a result of the free-agent signings of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. That's good for Backstrom, who had a 2.43 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage with four shutouts last year.

    Backstrom would be much better off staying with the Wild than moving on at this point in his career. The Finnish native is secure in his role as the team's top goalie and there's every reason to think the Wild will improve the next few years as Parise, Suter and rookie sensation Mikael Granlund grow more comfortable.

    If it's not just about money for him, Backstrom should stay with this team on the rise.

Andy McDonald, St. Louis Blues

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    Andy McDonald is not a star player, but he has the kind of quickness, agility and know-how that allows him to score clutch goals for the St. Louis Blues.

    McDonald, 35, is the kind of player that St. Louis head coach Ken Hitchcock can put out on the ice and know that he is going to play the game the right way. He skates hard, keeps his head up and goes to the right place on the ice.

    The Blues rose to second place in the Western Conference last year and they have a shot to advance a long way in the postseason this year.

    If they do, McDonald will play a key role.

    McDonald is earning $4.7 million (prorated) this season and he's set to hit the free-agent market. Many general managers may view him as a role player who can help their teams climbs the ladder. However, he's established in St. Louis for a team that has a chance to be a contender for a few years. He needs to keep that blue note on the crest of his jersey.

Derek Roy, Dallas Stars

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    Derek Roy was sent packing to Dallas by the Buffalo Sabres during the offseason.

    Despite his talent, the Sabres were more than willing to part with him so they could bring in gritty Steve Ott.

    The Sabres were clear in their message by shipping Roy out of town. He simply wasn't tough or effective enough for general manager Darcy Regier and head coach Lindy Ruff.

    Roy, 29, has to wear that tag until he proves it's not accurate. The best way he can do that is by having a big year with the Stars this season and making his new employers want to bring him back next year.

    Roy is earning $4 million this season and if he has a solid year and becomes a staple for the Stars, he will go a long way toward turning his reputation around.

Nathan Horton, Boston Bruins

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    Nathan Horton is a folk hero in Boston.

    He was traded to the Bruins prior to the Stanley Cup season in 2010-11 and he went on to series-clinching overtime goals against the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning.

    His 2011-12 season was cut down by concussion issues, but he has returned to the lineup in 2013. He scored his first goal in a year in the Bruins' 4-3 overtime loss to the New York Rangers Jan. 23.

    Horton, 27, is earning a prorated salary of $4 million this year. He is an established presence with the Bruins, playing primarily on a line with with David Krejci and Milan Lucic.

    If the Bruins can find room under the salary cap, they would be well-advised to keep such an important clutch scorer on their roster.

    Horton is talented enough to play well anywhere, but would he find the chemistry he has with his Bruins teammates?

    Very doubtful.

Valtteri Filppula, Detroit Red Wings

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    The Detroit Red Wings are going through a significant transition with the retirement of Nicklas Lidstrom and Tomas Holmstrom.

    It may prove to be a difficult period for a team that has won four Stanley Cup titles since 1996.

    But the Red Wings still have some excellent players in Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.

    The underrated Valtteri Filppula has a chance to be included with those two.

    Filppula, 28, is earning $3 million (prorated) this season. He is a solid, all-around player who scored 23 goals and 66 points last year to go along with a plus-18 rating.

    Staying in Detroit would give him a chance to become one of the most visible players on one of the most high-profile franchises in the NHL.

David Clarkson, New Jersey Devils

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    David Clarkson has a chance to become one of the most important players on the New Jersey Devils' roster.

    He served notice last year that he was more than just another guy, as he scored a career-high 30 goals for the Devils.

    Clarkson has always been a solid effort player who was not afraid to assert himself and drop the gloves. But, last year, he showed he could become a solid goal scorer as well.

    If he can come close to scoring at the rate he did last year in this shortened season, the Devils will reward him.

    With Martin Brodeur nearing the end, Clarkson and Adam Henrique have  a chance to become the faces of the franchise in the near future.

    Clarkson is earning $2.666 million on a prorated basis this season.