It is never too early to think about the NHL offseason, especially for teams that will miss the Stanley Cup playoffs.
These squads will need to find ways to improve in a hurry. The best way to turn things around right away is through free agency.
This year's class of free agents features some top-notch talent, starting with veteran Jarome Iginla. However, some of the lesser-known players will end up giving teams better value with a cheaper price.
Here are players that will become steals in the 2013 class.
Stephen Weiss, C, Florida Panthers
A wrist injury cut his season down to only 17 games, and Stephen Weiss was not all too effective when he was playing. While this will hurt his chances at getting a big contract this offseason, it will help the team that eventually signs him.
Weiss is still an extremely talented offensive player that should be expected to return to form next season.
Before this year, the center averaged 56.8 points in the past four seasons and was effective as both a scorer and distributor. He is also very strong on power plays and has totaled at least 10 assists with the man advantage in each of the past four years.
At 30 years old, he has plenty of good years still ahead of him and will prove that this down year was a fluke.
Anton Khudobin, G, Boston Bruins
Tuukka Rask is undoubtedly the No. 1 goaltender in Boston, but Anton Khudobin proved this season that he is ready for a starting job.
The 26-year-old Russian had only seen limited playing coming into the year. However, he has been great in 12 appearances for the Bruins in 2013. He has posted a 2.23 goals against average and a 92.4 save percentage to go with a 9-3 record as a starter.
As a free agent, Khudobin will get a chance to find a home where he can be the main player in net. There are certainly no shortages of teams that could use an upgrade at goalie.
With some more experience at this level, there is no limit as to how good this player can become.
Tyler Bozak, C, Toronto Maple Leafs
Like Khudobin, Tyler Bozak is still coming into his own as a skilled player. The difference is that he has already established himself as a regular on the Maple Leafs.
The center has become a durable player who can excel on both ends of the ice and do everything necessary to help his team win.
During this shortened season, Bozak is scoring at a better rate than he ever had in his career and totaled 12 goals and 14 assists for the playoff-bound Maple Leafs.
Toronto will likely want to keep the youngster, but he would be a huge addition for anyone willing to find a spot for him.
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