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NHL Free Agency 2013: Ranking the 10 Most Underrated Players on the Market

Brad KurtzbergContributor IJuly 2, 2013

NHL Free Agency 2013: Ranking the 10 Most Underrated Players on the Market

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    While everybody is talking about Nathan Horton, Jarome Iginla and Mike Ribeiro, there are plenty of other free agents available who can help a team without making huge headlines when they sign a new deal.

    This list reviews the 10 most underrated free agents available on the market this summer. It includes only unrestricted free agents and does not include players who will almost certainly re-sign with their present club if they don't retire like Teemu Selanne.

    These are players who many fans may overlook at first or not think about much, but can help a team if put in the right situation and playing the right role while being paid a much more moderate amount of money.

    Since value is so important this summer with the salary cap going down, these players may be vital additions to their new teams, despite the fact that they are role players and not stars.

10. Scott Gomez

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    Sure, the Montreal Canadiens were right to buy out Scott Gomez from his contract before the start of last season, but that doesn't mean Gomez can't help a team with his skill set at a more reasonable cost.

    Last season, Gomez caught on with the San Jose Sharks where he scored two goals and 15 points in 39 games while playing fourth-line minutes and seeing some time on the second power-play unit.

    That's what Gomez can give a team. He's won a Stanley Cup and played in some major markets so he knows how to handle pressure.

    Gomez is a good passer and still has good vision on the ice even if he is only average at best in his own zone. He is at his best on the power play where he has a little more room and a little more time to move the puck.

    If you pay him a reasonable contract, Gomez is a good complementary piece to pick up for the right team.

9. Grant Clitsome

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    Grant Clitsome is a steady and reliable defenseman. Last season, the Gloucester, Ontario, native scored four goals and 16 points in 44 games with the Jets.

    Clitsome is a reliable third-pairing defenseman who can also contribute on the second power-play unit.

    He has been a plus-player in two of the last three seasons, despite playing for teams that did not reach the playoffs.

    Signing Clitsome is a low-risk move that would result in a reliable payoff.

8. Eric Nystrom

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    Eric Nystrom's highlight tapes aren't going to win many beauty contests, but the 30-year-old former University of Michigan star is a hard-working, bottom-six forward who will grind out an honest effort game after game.

    Nystrom's most productive offensive season was in 2011-12 when he scored 16 goals and 21 points in 74 games. Almost all of those goals came from the "dirty areas" in and around the opposing team's crease.

    Nystrom is fearless, tough and willing to pay the price to be better. He won't cost too much against the salary cap, but brings good chemistry and a contagious work ethic to any club that chooses to sign him.

7. Mason Raymond

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    Mason Raymond is at a crossroads in his career. He truly hasn't been the same player since suffering an injured vertebrae during the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.

    He played only 55 games in 2011-12, scoring 10 goals and 20 points and followed that up with 10 goals and 22 points in 46 games last season.

    It's not just Raymond's production that has gone down. His offensive game has suffered as well. His total shots on goal has been lower each of the past three seasons, dropping from 197 in 2010-11 to 125 in 2011-12 and then to 79 last season.

    If Raymond is healthy, he could bounce back and return to his earlier and more productive form. He will only be 28 when the new season starts which means he is in his prime now. If he can pass a physical, he is probably a worthwhile player to take a chance on.

6. Clarke MacArthur

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    Clarke MacArthur is another solid goal scorer who slumped a bit last season, but is still capable of helping a team as a second- or third-line forward.

    MacArthur is only 28 and had back-to-back seasons with more than 20 goals in 2010-11 and 2011-12. Last season, he slumped to eight goals and 20 points in 40 games, roughly a 15-goal pace.

    Put the Lloydminster, Alberta, native out there with solid linemates and he should at least approach the 20-goal plateau if not exceed it. Almost any NHL club can use solid production like that.

5. Stephen Weiss

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    When he's healthy, Stephen Weiss has been a consistent top-six forward in the NHL. Last season, however, Weiss suffered a wrist injury and played in only 17 games. He scored one goal and four points.

    The previous three seasons, Weiss topped 20 goals in a season, including a career-high 28 goals and 60 points in 2009-10.

    Weiss can score goals and help any team on the power play. He is being overlooked by many because of his injury-induced, sparse production last season.

4. Michal Rozsival

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    This photo should say a lot about the value of defenseman Michal Rozsival. The 34-year-old native of the Czech Republic played in 27 games for the Chicago Blackhawks last season and quietly picked up 18 assists.

    Rozsival won't make many highlight-reel plays, but he's a solid third-pair defenseman who can give you 18-22 solid minutes a game, make smart transition passes and provide some experience and leadership to a locker room.

    Rozsival has great hockey sense and won't hurt your team by making a bad turnover or blowing an assignment. He is a smart, low-risk pickup who can help solidify a team's defense.

3. Ryane Clowe

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    Ryane Clowe had a rough start to this past season, failing to score a goal in 28 games with the Sharks.  A mid-season trade to the New York Rangers got him started a bit more offensively, but he still finished the season with a disappointing three goals and 19 points in 40 games before injuries slowed him down in the playoffs.

    Clowe is only 30, and at 6'2" and 225 pounds, he brings size and a willingness to play a physical style that every team covets.

    Clowe had a pair of 20-plus goal seasons to his credit and has topped the 100-penalty-minute mark twice as well.

    While Clowe will not break the bank, he is a reliable power forward who should be a solid complementary player in his new club's lineup.

2. Ilya Bryzgalov

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    Contrary to popular opinion, Ilya Bryzgalov was not terrible between the pipes for the Philadelphia Flyers over the past two seasons. Inconsistent? Yes. Worth the huge contract he signed? Not even close but he was not horrible by a long shot.

    Bryzgalov is only 33, and the Russian netminder is still a quality NHL starter. Heck, just putting him on a team with a stronger defense than the Flyers should improve his stats, and that shouldn't be too hard to find.

    Give Bryzgalov a fair and reasonable deal, and he'd be a solid addition to any team that needs a starting goalie.

1. Valtteri Filppula

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    One year ago, Valtteri Filppula would have been a very sought after free agent. In 2011-12, the Finnish forward scored 23 goals and 66 points in 81 games.

    Filppula continued to play well during the lockout, scoring 15 points in 16 games playing for a Finnish team. But after the lockout ended, Filppula failed to keep up his offensive production. In 41 games with the Wings, he scored just nine goals and 17 points.

    Even if you count 2011-12 as a fluke, Filppula is a reliable 10- to 15-goal, 30- to 40-point-per-season forward who is smart in his own zone and rarely takes penalties.

    The team that signs Filppula isn't going to make huge headlines across the league, but they will get a smart, reliable two-way forward who can help a team win. He has a Stanley Cup ring as well which never hurts.

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