NHL Free Agents 2013: Under-the-Radar Talent Sure to Thrive on New Clubs

Richard Langford@@noontide34Correspondent IJuly 3, 2013

BUFFALO, NY - APRIL 22:  Blake Wheeler #26 of the Winnipeg Jets skates against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center on April 22, 2013 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Sean Rudyk/Getty Images)
Sean Rudyk/Getty Images

While it is big names who will get the bulk of attention in free agency, it is often the addition of more unheralded players that proves enough to push a team over the hump. 

Sometimes all a team needs is a player to fill the right role to help everything come together. This can benefit the player, too. Putting a guy in a position where he is well-equipped to perform can lead his career to new heights. 

Here are three guys who look to be sliding in under the radar, but could reap huge rewards to whichever team signs them. 


Blake Wheeler

Blake Wheeler is just beginning to come into his own. The 26-year-old led Winnipeg in scoring last year while appearing in all 48 games. He notched 22 assists and 19 goals. The right winger ranked eighth in points at his position last year. 

That came on the heels of a solid 2011-12 season where he wracked up 64 points.

The former fifth overall selection has taken a while to develop, but he appears ready for a long run of quality production. After all, he's missed just four games since 2008.

However, he won't be easy for another team to pry away. He is just a restricted free agent. And as the WinnipegSun.com's Ken Wiebe tweets, the Jets made a qualifying offer:


Anton Khudobin

With Tukka Rask emerging as the man in the net for the Bruins, Khudobin should be anxious to get out of Boston.

The 27-year-old went 9-4-1 with a 2.32 goals against average while splitting time with Rask last year.

While he wasn't spectacular, he was a solid performer and should have no problem finding a starting role next year.  

Consider that Khudobin has been in the league for four seasons, and his 14 starts last year doubled his total number of appearances in his three prior seasons, it is clear Khudobin is a work in progress. Given consistent playing time, he will improve and be a nice asset wherever he lands. 


Clarke MacArthur

Clarke MacArthur is coming off of a nice three-year run since arriving in Toronto. However, his production has dipped in those three seasons.

He put up 62 points in his first season in Toronto, 43 the next and 20 last year in the lockout-shortened season. He did step it up in the postseason, as he tallied three points in his five postseason games. 

However, he wasn't given much of an opportunity as he began the playoffs as a healthy scratch. I can't imagine that is sitting too well with MacArthur, and I'd look for him to find greener pastures.

Given a new setting, consistent playing and some talent around him, MacArthur can be a key piece to a winning team.