Now that the 2013 NHL draft is over, the focus for the league has shifted from the prospects to the veteran free agents that will be hitting the open market this offseason.
With huge stars like Vincent Lecavalier, Danny Briere and Jarome Iginla free to sign wherever they want on July 5 (the official start of free agency), the NHL world is buzzing over where these key players will land.
All of the following teams must make a huge splash this offseason by hitting free agency hard and signing a big name or two.
Top 10 Unrestricted Free Agents
Vincent Lecavalier, C
Danny Briere, C
Jarome Iginla, RW
David Clarkson, RW
Nathan Horton, RW
Jaromir Jagr, RW
Brenden Morrow, LW
Andrew Ference, D
Ilya Bryzgalov, G
Tim Thomas, G
The Dallas Stars have a strong core of players already, but they should be actively pursuing a blockbuster free-agent deal that could help the franchise get over the postseason hump and make a deep run.
With a stellar goaltender in Kari Lehtonen and a defensive group made up of an eclectic mix of veterans and younger players, the main need for the Stars is adding depth and talent to the forward lines.
Dallas is in an enviable position this offseason, as the franchise has almost $14 million in cap space for the 2013-14 season. If the Stars feel they have a chance to sign players like Vincent Lecavalier, Danny Briere or Jarome Iginla, the team has to take the risk.
New York Islanders
The New York Islanders are never big spenders in the free-agent market, but with the depth of talent out there this year and serious needs across the depth chart, it’s time for the team to break the habit and make an exception.
With the need for a goaltender, re-signing a bona fide No. 1 like Evgeni Nabokov or making a plea to a veteran like Tim Thomas to sign on the island must be a top priority for the franchise.
There is no doubt that team needs a veteran presence, but instead of adding a top forward, the Islanders should be trying to add depth to their defensive group first and foremost.
Despite being $30 million under the salary cap, the team won’t go crazy signing big names, instead likely opting to look at a veteran defender like Andrew Ference to bolster the back end. While it’s not sexy, it would be a smart fundamental move.
The Edmonton Oilers have almost $20 million dollars in cap space right now, and with an incredibly promising group of young forwards looking for a true leader, it’s time for the franchise to go all-in on a free-agent forward.
While the Oilers will have to sign at least one free-agent defender to bolster the less-than-stellar defensive group, Edmonton must get in on the sweepstakes for a veteran forward like Lecavalier or Iginla that has the character to teach these younger stars.
Signing one of the top free agents will be a pricey venture, but the long-term benefits that a true leader could provide to the roster would help the franchise find its identity. The Oilers need a star player that can teach his teammates to play their best hockey at the NHL level.
All financial and free-agent information via CapGeek.com.