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Ranking the 10 Most Lethal Goal Scorers Among 2013 NHL Free Agents

Brad KurtzbergContributor IMay 6, 2013

Ranking the 10 Most Lethal Goal Scorers Among 2013 NHL Free Agents

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    The Stanley Cup playoffs are underway, so the offseason and NHL free agency are just around the corner.

    With that in mind, here is a preview of the 10 most lethal goal scorers among 2013 free agents.

    The free-agent class of 2013 is not a very strong one. There are several players who can help improve the right team under the right circumstances, but there are no stars in their prime like Zach Parise, who was available a year ago.

    Keep in mind that this list includes only unrestricted free agents and does not include players like Teemu Selanne and Daniel Alfredsson, who will almost certainly either retire or re-sign with their present NHL teams.

    It obviously excludes goalies, and no defensemen from this year's free-agent class were good enough goal scorers to make this list.

    The rankings combine a players' age, proven track record and future potential. As a result, some older players like Vinny Prospal and Patrik Elias did not make this list even though they may be able to help some teams if they get a one-year deal.

    Also keep in mind this list only ranks players according to their goal-scoring ability and not on their overall game.

    Feel free to mention players you feel belong on this list!

10. Brad Boyes, New York Islanders

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    Brad Boyes took a gamble last season by signing a one-year, $1 million deal with the New York Islanders. 

    While the Mississauga, Ontario native didn't regain his 40-goal scoring touch, he showed he could still be an important contributor on the Isles' first line by scoring 10 goals and 35 points in 48 games.

    Boyes adjusted to playing on a line with John Tavares and Matt Moulson, two players who are more goal scorers than setup men. As a result, Boyes became more of a playmaker and was successful in that role.

    Boyes is only 31 and should have some productive seasons left in him. If he chooses not to re-sign with the Islanders, he should provide some team with a steady scoring touch next season.

9. Brenden Morrow, Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Sure, Brenden Morrow is 34 years old, but the former Dallas Stars captain is just two years removed from a 33-goal season.

    Playing on the third line for an explosive Penguins team, Morrow was productive, scoring six goals and 14 points in 15 games.

    In addition to his ability to score goals, Morrow is a willing checker and has strong leadership qualities.

    The Penguins may not be able to fit Morrow under the salary cap, but if he leaves Pittsburgh, he should be able to make a positive contribution to whichever NHL team signs him this summer.

8. Tyler Bozak, Toronto Maple Leafs

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    It's tough to believe that Tyler Bozak has never scored more than 18 goals in an NHL season.

    The former University of Denver star did score 12 goals in 46 games this season, which would have put him on pace for 21, but he still hasn't done it over the course of a full NHL campaign.

    At 27, Bozak should just be entering his prime, and a team might ink him to a lengthy contract. Still, he is a second- or third-line forward at best and is not a top-line offensive talent. Bozak is a player with a "high hockey IQ" according to his coach, Randy Carlyle.

    Bozak can help somebody offensively, even if he's not an elite, top-flight sniper.

7. Mike Ribeiro, Washington Capitals

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    Mike Ribeiro moved on to Washington this past season and remained a productive player, scoring 49 points in 48 games. Still, the 33-year-old Montreal native scored 13 goals with 36 helpers.

    This would put him on pace for 22 goals over an 82-game season, a respectable total in the modern-day NHL. He has had three seasons of 20 or more goals in the NHL thus far, including a career-best 27 with the Stars in 2007-08.

    Ribeiro should be able to sign one more fairly substantial contract, but he is more valued as a passer than as a goal scorer.

    He will be a helpful addition to some team's top six forwards next season if he doesn't stay in Washington.

6. Jaromir Jagr, Boston Bruins

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    Jaromir Jagr's future is up in the air. The 41-year-old future Hall of Famer could retire after the playoffs are over, or he could return to Europe to play closer to his native Czech Republic.

    What is clear is that Jagr can still put the puck in the net. He scored 16 goals in 45 games this season for the Stars and Bruins, which would put him on pace for 29 goals over an 82-game season.

    If he were a few years younger, Jagr would be at or near the top of this list. He may not be able to dominate a game anymore, but he is still capable of making some great plays and contributing to his team's offensive success, especially on the power play.

    Some team may try to sign Jagr to a one-year deal if he stays in the NHL next season. That team should expect pretty good production from Jagr, too.

5. Pascal Dupuis, Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Pittsburgh's Pascal Dupuis actually led all potential UFAs in goals this past season with 20 in 48 games. The previous season, the native of Laval, Quebec, scored 25 goals in a full 82-game season.

    Dupuis has had three seasons with 20 or more goals in his lengthy NHL career. He has also played on a Stanley Cup winner, something that all coaches look for in their locker rooms.

    In 798 career NHL games, Dupuis has scored 175 goals and 374 points. He has also scored 15 postseason goals (and counting) in 85 playoff games.

    The Penguins may not be able to afford to re-sign all of their potential UFAs, so Dupuis may have to seek employment elsewhere next summer.

    Whoever signs Dupuis will add a steady, experienced winger who is capable of scoring 20 goals and adding some leadership to the lineup.

4. Nathan Horton, Boston Bruins

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    If Nathan Horton could stay healthy, he would be even higher on this list. Unfortunately, the 27-year-old Welland, Ontario native has had difficulty staying on the ice in recent years.

    In four of his last five NHL seasons, Horton has missed significant time due to injuries. In this lockout-shortened season, he missed five games. Overall, Horton has failed to come close to playing a full schedule in four of the last five campaigns.

    When he's healthy, Horton has been very productive. He scored a career-high 31 goals with Florida in 2006-07 and has three other NHL seasons with 25 or more goals.

    He also has been productive in the playoffs, which should only make him more desirable to potential suitors. During Boston's run to the Stanley Cup in 2011, Horton scored eight goals and 17 points in 21 games.

    Horton is a bit of a gamble, but if he stays healthy, the team that signs him could benefit handsomely.

3. David Clarkson, New Jersey Devils

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    David Clarkson is a classic "Cy Young" type hockey player, i.e. someone who has a lot more goals than assists.

    This year, the 29-year-old Toronto native scored 15 goals in 48 games, putting him on pace for roughly 26 tallies over an 82-game season, but he assisted on only nine goals.

    In 2011-12, Clarkson scored a career-best 30 goals, by far his best season in the NHL. He had only 16 assists, again putting him in Cy Young territory.

    If Clarkson leaves New Jersey, some team will get a pretty reliable goal scorer who should have several more productive years ahead of him.

2. Jarome Iginla, Pittsburgh Penguins

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    It will be interesting to see what happens to Jarome Iginla this summer. The Penguins acquired him as a rent-a-player from the Flames, where he spent 16 seasons.

    Iginla will turn 36 on July 1 and is clearly no longer the same player who scored 50 goals back in 2001-02 and again in 2007-08. But he did score 32 goals last season in 82 games.

    This year, the Edmonton native scored 14 goals in 44 games, which would have put him on pace for 26 goals if the season weren't shortened by the lockout.

    Iginla is also a natural leader who served as captain of the Calgary Flames from 2004 until this season when he was dealt to the Penguins. He helped lead the Flames to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2004, when they fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    It will probably be difficult for the Penguins to re-sign Iginla this summer and stay under the salary cap. He may want to return to Calgary or choose to play for a team with a better chance to win him a Stanley Cup in the immediate future.

    Either way, Iginla should have some productive years left, even if he is no longer an elite hockey player at this stage of his career.

1. Michael Ryder, Montreal Canadiens

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    Michael Ryder has been a very productive top-six forward over the course of his NHL career.

    The Bonavista, Newfoundland native has scored 213 goals in 677 career NHL games, including three seasons of at least 30 goals.

    During this lockout-shortened year, he scored 16 goals in 46 games, which would put him on a pace for nearly 29 tallies over a full, 82-game season.

    Ryder also adds plenty of playoff experience, having won a Stanley Cup with the Bruins in 2011.

    At 33, Ryder should have a few more seasons at or near peak production. He should be one of the more sought-after free agents if the Habs don't sign him to another deal.

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