Just a few weeks separate NHL squads from embarking on another rendition of the annual free-agent frenzy. Some headliners are certain to steal the show and emerge as immensely coveted commodities (keep your cell phones handy, Jarome Iginla and Nathan Horton), but championship rosters are built on savvy moves that contribute to depth.
Beyond the marquee names are a number of exceptional players set to fly under the radar when offseason action commences. Members of this list will receive plenty of attention but may have to let the market develop before making a decision instead of dictating the situation.
You won't find any Hart Trophy front-runners here but expect these athletes to emerge as viable free-agent options for a variety of Cup-hungry teams. Undervalue them at your own risk.
The left winger was a major factor in the Maple Leafs' long-awaited return to the Stanley Cup playoffs. MacArthur, 28, arrived in Toronto in 2010 and has taken on a more substantial role as a playmaker during the past few years.
He accounted for 23 points in 45 games (playoffs and regular season) this year. MacArthur managed to tally consecutive 20-goal campaigns in 2010-'11 and 2011-'12, becoming a more polished player in the process.
His two goals against Boston in opening-round action highlight MacArthur's advancement as an offensive threat. He notched the game-winner in Game 5.
The American product picked up his game this season in Winnipeg, where he was the team's leading scorer. Wheeler, a 26-year-old right winger, appeared in all 48 games and tallied 22 assists to go with 19 goals.
He entered the league as a highly touted draft pick but didn't start to truly look the part as a prime-time performer until 2013. The late bloomer is a very reliable member of the roster, missing just four games since 2008.
Wheeler should test the market as a restricted free agent, forcing the Jets to make a long-term decision.
Despite being buried behind a bevvy of superstars in Pittsburgh, Kennedy has impressed in spurts. The 26-year-old center scraped together just 11 points during the regular season but he's been much more efficient during the postseason.
Kennedy has five points in the playoffs, picking up significant offensive slack during key junctures. He may never be a front-line guy, but the Canadian can be counted on to produce when called upon.
Kennedy is a savvy player, picking up plenty of playoff experience during his tenure with the Penguins. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him pursue a larger role with a less successful squad.
Changes are coming for a Canucks squad that suffered an embarrassing sweep against San Jose in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. Roy, acquired by the team in 2013, may be one of many Vancouver players to pick things up elsewhere next season.
The veteran center spent his first eight NHL campaigns in Buffalo, where he performed well for a mediocre organization. Roy is a consistent rotational guy, compiling at least 78 games played in four seasons since 2008.
The 30-year-old started this season in Dallas and would up with Vancouver when the Stars opted to unload talent. He tallied 28 points during the shortened season.
Tukka Rask has emerged as a star in net for the Bruins, so it's fair to expect Boston's backup goalie will explore his options. Khudobin, 27, split duties with Rask early as the organization aimed to replace 2011 Conn Smythe Trophy winner Tim Thomas.
He went 9-4-1 with a 2.32 goals against average. Khudobin showed enough skills in 14 starts to warrant several looks this summer, particularly in a league starved of quality goaltending.
Rask, a restricted free agent, isn't going anywhere so Boston would be wise to gauge outside interest in Khudobin before deciding how to approach contract discussions.