NHL Free Agency 2013: The Most Overrated Players on the Market This Summer

Jerry Bonkowski@@jerrybonkowskiFeatured ColumnistJune 26, 2013

NHL Free Agency 2013: The Most Overrated Players on the Market This Summer

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    With NHL free agency set to get underway July 5, look for lots of wheeling and dealing by league general managers.

    While there will be a number of unrestricted free agents looking to move up both competitively and monetarily, there's also a number of players who come into this free-agency period with the likely tag of being overrated.

    The definition we used to establish if a player is overrated came from a combination of a number of things, including declining performances in recent seasons, age, significant dropoffs in goal or points production and some simply reaching a point where it's time for a change of scenery.

    Of note, the 10 players we've chosen here are not listed in any particular order.

    All salary and cap numbers used in this report are courtesy of CapGeek.com.

Nikolai Khabibulin, Goalie

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    Nikolai Khabibulin is not necessarily overrated in the truest sense of the word, but it may be time for the Bulin Wall to come down.

    That's not a knock against Khabibulin, but at 40 years old, it's a reality that sooner or later a player must retire. Even though he's out there as an unrestricted free agent, no team is going to pay him what he just finished earning with the Oilers, $3.75 million—not for a backup goalie, anyway.

    It's probably that time for Khabibulin, who has had a great career in the NHL.

    Sure, he might stick around another year with another team—unless Edmonton decides to keep him for one more season to continue backing up Devan Dubnyk—but if any team thinks he can be an every game goalie again, they'll quickly find out they're sadly mistaken.

Mason Raymond, Left Wing

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    Mason Raymond came into the NHL with lots of promise and high expectations placed upon him in 2007.

    But since then, other than a 25-goal, 28-assist season in 2009-10, he's not been much to write home about, especially this season, when he managed just 10 goals and 12 assists in 48 games in the lockout-shortened regular season.

    That's a poor comparison to what he did in 2011-12, when he had 10 goals and 10 assists in 55 games played. Frankly, at times, it seems like he is either afraid to touch the puck, or doesn't seem to know what to do with it once he gets it.

    Sure, the 27-year-old Raymond has speed, but is it worth $2.275 million?

    He's maybe a $1 million player, if that. The question is who, if anyone, will take him even for that reduced amount?

Tim Connolly, Center

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    Tim who?

    Maple Leafs fans can't be blamed if they quickly forgot about Connolly's brief tenure with the team; just one season, 2011-12.

    He was waived just prior to the start of the lockout-shortened season and shipped to the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League, where he played just 28 games, scoring five goals and seven assists.

    Connolly has had a history of injuries that have hampered him throughout his career. His best NHL season was in 2005-06 with Buffalo, when he scored 16 goals and 39 assists for 63 points.

    When then-Toronto GM Brian Burke brought Connolly to the Maple Leafs prior to the 2011-12 season, it was a bad deal any way you looked at it at $4.75 million per season.

    Even with being sent to the Marlies earlier this year, he still collected on the second year of his contract, making him the second-highest-paid player in the organization behind Phil Kessel.

    If he gets picked up by another team, look for Connolly to get a contract more in the $1.5 million range—if that.

Tomas Kaberle, Defense

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    Veteran defenseman Tomas Kaberle played in just 10 games, scoring only three assists, this past season before being waived in late March.

    That no other team picked him up is pretty telling, especially for a guy whose cap hit to the Canadiens is $4.25 million.

    Not only that, he's the kind of defenseman that shoots his body around, but doesn't shoot the puck towards the net all that much (seven goals in the last five seasons), yet another reason why he wasn't picked up after he was waived by Montreal.

    At the age of 35, Kaberle will likely head back to play in his native Slovakia. No NHL team is going to pay him $2.25 million, let alone $4.25 million.

    He's enjoyed a good career, but it appears his time in the NHL is over. That doesn't mean he still can't grab some glory back home in Europe, however.

Jaromir Jagr, Right Wing

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    Jaromir Jagr is headed to the NHL Hockey Hall of Fame. With 681 goals and 1,007 assists, his name has been legendary throughout the league for more than 20 years.

    But as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end, and Jagr, who will turn 42 next February, just doesn't merit $4.55 million per season anymore.

    Sure, the Boston Bruins picked him up in a late-season trade to bolster the club—which he did, with two goals and seven assists in the regular season and 10 assists in the playoffs.

    But where were the goals in the postseason? He failed to light the lamp even once in the four rounds of the playoffs.

    At this juncture, a team may take a chance on Jagr—maybe a place like Nashville or Columbus or Edmonton—but they realize he'll never be the player he once was.

    If anything, Jagr may have one more season in him, but given all he's accomplished in his career, is there really anything else left for him to achieve?

Valtteri Filppula, Center/Left Wing

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    Valtteri Filppula had nowhere near center-like numbers, even in the lockout-shortened regular season, with just nine goals and eight assists in 41 games.

    Does that kind of performance merit another $3 million-plus per year, given that the 28-year-old just wrapped up a $15 million, five-year deal?

    Unlikely, especially when he had one of the best lineups in the league surrounding him.

    And that's why Filppula may have to beg the Red Wings to take him back, even if it's at a greatly reduced salary—because his play this past season likely cost him a lucrative free-agent deal somewhere else, perhaps as much as $5 million per year.

    Now, the 28-year-old may have to settle for maybe $1.5 million per—if he can even get that from the Red Wings or somewhere else.

    But it's unlikely Detroit GM Ken Holland will take Filppula back. Holland is not a fan of inconsistent players, and Filppula definitely falls into that category.

    Among teams that may take a chance on him: Nashville, Toronto, Columbus, New Jersey and maybe even Ottawa.

Derek Roy, Center

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    Seven goals, 21 assists. Is that kind of performance worth $4 million or more per season to the Canucks, let alone any other NHL club? Break that down, and it's roughly $142,857.14 per point.

    That's what Derek Roy brings to the table, wrapping up a $24 million, six-year contract for the 30-year-old.

    It's unlikely the Canucks will renew him at that kind of price tag, and it's equally unlikely other teams will pony up that kind of cash or more in these cap-strapped days.

    This is a classic example of a player who once was worth the money he earned, but now may have to take one or even several steps backward financially to rebuild his stock and value in the league.

    It's a story that is all too common, particularly in this year's crop of unrestricted free agents.

Dustin Penner, Left Wing

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    The performance of Dustin Penner has slipped substantially in the last three seasons, to the point where he's a power forward without much power.

    With just two goals and 12 assists for the Kings during the regular season and three goals and two assists in the playoffs, that's not the kind of performance a team should get from a guy making $3.25 million per season.

    Want more evidence? Penner had his best year with the Oilers in 2009-10 (63 points, 32 goals, 31 assists) and added 39 points (21 goals and 18 assists) in his last season in Edmonton.

    But since being dealt to the Kings later in the 2010-11 campaign, he's had a grand total of 11 goals and 26 points across one full regular season, one lockout-shortened season and the portion of a third season after being traded.

    He may be a big guy, but his performance since coming to the Kings has been anything but big.

    But don't be surprised if an NHL GM gives Penner a chance to try and regain the form he previously had with the Oilers, when he scored 93 goals in under four full seasons.

    Still, the 30-year-old Penner will likely have to take a pretty big pay cut, probably down to the $1.5-to-$1.75-million range.

Patrik Elias, Center

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    Patrik Elias has been with the New Jersey Devils forever. Well, it seems that way, given the Devils are the only team he's played for since coming into the NHL in 1995.

    And even though he's now 37, he was still productive during this past season, scoring 14 goals and 22 assists.

    But is that kind of performance worth $6 million?

    Uh, no.

    The Devils aren't likely to give him another $6 million, and it's also unlikely any other team will give him anywhere close to that, either.

    What we envision is taking a big cut to stay with the only team he's known in the NHL. But will he be willing to play for, say, $2 or $2.5 million when he was used to triple that per year?

    Then again, he still has another year or two in him that might prompt another NHL team to offer him maybe $3 or $3.5 million. Any higher than that, and Elias will be committing highway robbery.

Tim Thomas, Goalie

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    After struggling through the minors for more than a decade, Tim Thomas finally got called up to the NHL full time in 2005 at the age of 32 and wrote an almost Cinderella-like story over the following seven seasons.

    Sure, the two-time Vezina Trophy winner led the Bruins to the Stanley Cup championship in 2011, but when it came time to report for this season, he was a training camp holdout.

    The Bruins waited and waited, but couldn't get Thomas to come to camp, so they sent him packing to the Islanders—and he still didn't come to play, even with a $5 million deal. In his defense, Thomas did write on his Facebook page prior to this season that he intended to sit out the campaign, trade or no trade.

    Now 39, Thomas is without a team and likely without a future. He's still listed on CapGeek's list of unrestricted free agents, but given how much he previously made and that he hasn't played in over a year, it would be unrealistic to expect any team to sign him for other than a backup goalie at maybe $1 or $1.5 million per.

    And that would be generous.