1 Perfect Fit for Every NHL Team in 2013 Free Agency
NHL free agency opens on Friday, and general managers will feverishly try to sign as many free agents as possible.
Some clubs like the Philadelphia Flyers have already gotten a jump by agreeing to deals in principle, but others have not yet started addressing their needs.
Here is one perfect fit for every NHL team as the 2013 free-agency period approaches.
Each team will have a different free agent, but a few players will be repeated because of their particular fit for a team.
Anaheim Ducks: Nathan Horton
The Anaheim Ducks could stand to upgrade their wingers during free agency, and Nathan Horton would be a great fit.
The Ducks could stand to add some youth on the wings, and Horton is considerably younger than Teemu Selanne. Although the Finnish Flash could return for another season, he will likely have a reduced role in 2013-14.
Horton is a winger who can play physical, he can score and he has a tendency to rise to the occasion.
The Ducks have Ryan Getzlaf at center, and Horton would be a great fit for his line. This would allow the Ducks to move Corey Perry to a different line, and the Ducks' scoring lines would become more balanced.
Boston Bruins: Brenden Morrow
At the trade deadline, the Boston Bruins added Jaromir Jagr, but a player who would have been a better fit was Brenden Morrow. Morrow plays a physical and grinding style of hockey, and he would be a perfect fit for the Bruins' bottom six.
Boston's current squad almost won the Stanley Cup, so management will try to keep the core of the team together. This season, the Bruins tried to have Jagr fill the Mark Recchi role as an aging-veteran leader, but it didn't work out.
Morrow would be a solid fit who can still log important minutes, and he would probably come at a low cost at this stage of his career.
Buffalo Sabres: Mike Ribeiro
The Buffalo Sabres need a No. 1 center, and Mike Ribeiro fits the bill. Although Buffalo likely isn't at the top of Ribeiro's list, he would be a great addition for the Sabres.
Adding Ribeiro to play with Thomas Vanek would be a great move, and it would buy the Sabres time until their young centers like Mikhail Grigorenko are ready for full NHL duty. Ribeiro will likely fetch a pretty penny in free agency, but Terry Pegula has deep pockets.
Calgary Flames: Derek Roy
The Calgary Flames will look to upgrade their center depth this summer, and a player like Derek Roy could fit in nicely with the Flames. He played well for the Vancouver Canucks after he was traded from Dallas, and he could be signed at an affordable rate.
Roy would be a good fit in a second-line role, and he could help the Flames as they attempt to turn things around. The Flames had a decent draft, so adding a player like Roy would be a step in the right direction.
Carolina Hurricanes: Andrew Ference
Andrew Ference was a key blueliner for the Boston Bruins, and the Carolina Hurricanes should scoop him up this summer. Ference could fill a top-four or bottom-six role, and he would add a ton of stability to the team's defense.
The Hurricanes recently added Andrej Sekera, but they still only have five blueliners signed through next season. Ference would close the gap on the depth chart, and he would bring valuable Stanley Cup experience.
Chicago Blackhawks: Mark Fistric
The Chicago Blackhawks have been cutting salary lately, and they currently have five defensemen signed through next season. Mark Fistric is 27 years old, and he is a solid bottom-pairing defender who could provide some value for the team's blue line.
There are not a ton of marquee free agents available, and the Blackhawks could be banking cap space for a very deep 2014 UFA market.
Fistric was solid with the Dallas Stars and Edmonton Oilers, and he would be a solid fix with the Blackhawks.
Colorado Avalanche: Rob Scuderi
Rob Scuderi is a veteran defenseman, and he is exactly what the Colorado Avalanche need.
The Avalanche are set to have a stacked forward group, they have a promising goaltender but they have a defense corps that could use some major improvements.
The addition of Rob Scuderi to the team's blue line would add a veteran and championship presence, and that would help the Avs develop into a contending team.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Tim Connolly
The Columbus Blue Jackets are a team that is going to rebuild over the next few years, so they will be unable to attract top free agents.
Marian Gaborik was a good start via trade, but the team could stand to add a center who has shown some success.
Players like Derek Roy and Mike Ribeiro may not be interested, but Tim Connolly is looking to get back into the NHL after being banished to the AHL.
Connolly isn't a superstar, but he is a decent center who could help the Blue Jackets in a niche role.
Dallas Stars: Simon Gagne
New general manager Jim Nill is going to try to build a winner in Dallas, and a solid start would include adding veteran scorer Simon Gagne.
Gagne is a veteran player who has battled injuries from time to time, but he is a dynamic offensive player when healthy.
After looking at the Stars' roster, it is apparent that they could use another top-nine forward. Gagne could thrive if paired with Jamie Benn or Loui Eriksson, and he likely could be acquired at a low cost.
Detroit Red Wings: Brad Boyes
Brad Boyes bounced back with the New York Islanders, and he is a playmaking winger who would be a great asset on the Red Wings. If Damien Brunner leaves via free agency, the Red Wings could opt to sign Boyes to fill that hole.
Boyes would be a solid acquisition for a few reasons. Given the makeup of the Wings' current roster, Boyes could fit in on either of the team's top lines. He could be paired with either of Detroit's top centers, and he would be able to score and set up his linemates.
Boyes still has some game left, and Detroit would be a solid landing spot for him.
Edmonton Oilers: David Clarkson
David Clarkson has the physicality that the Edmonton Oilers lack, and his presence would benefit the team in a big way. The Oilers have tons of young talent, but they lack some truculence and tenacity.
Don't underestimate the effect Clarkson could have on a line with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle or Taylor Hall. Having someone like Clarkson helps open up space for skilled guys, and the skilled players tend to play with more confidence.
It worked for the Detroit Red Wings during the 1990s, and it could work for Edmonton in 2013. Clarkson would add a lot to the lineup, and the Oilers would benefit as a team by making this addition.
Florida Panthers: Michael Ryder
The Florida Panthers added Aleksander Barkov at the NHL draft, and he will be a huge part of the team's future, but in the interim they need veteran scoring help. In 2013-14 the team will be led by Kris Versteeg, Jonathan Huberdeau and potentially Nick Bjugstad, but the Panthers could use some extra firepower.
The Panthers are a team that doesn't draw many marquee free agents, but Michael Ryder is a veteran who would help the Panthers.
He has a proven track record, and he would likely come at a low cost. Ryder had 35 points in 46 games between the Stars and Canadiens, and he would definitely fit in with the Panthers in a top-six role.
Los Angeles Kings: Valtteri Filppula
Valtteri Filppula is a player who has a lot of creativity and likes to score, and if he were to join the Los Angeles Kings, he would have some comparable linemates who would enable him to thrive.
The Los Angeles Kings currently have gritty forwards like Jarret Stoll, Dustin Brown and Justin Williams, but another two-way skill guy could mesh with a center like Anze Kopitar.
Right now, good depth at left wing is an area the Kings are weak in, so adding Filppula would be a nice move.
Minnesota Wild: Dustin Penner
The Minnesota Wild just traded Cal Clutterbuck, so they could use a physical winger to replace him.
Dustin Penner is a decent offensive player, but his most important contributions are via hits and blocks.
The Wild have some salary coming off the books, and they could use a physical winger who can score. Also, Penner would likely come at a reasonable rate because he is coming off a down year.
Montreal Canadiens: Viktor Stalberg
The Chicago Blackhawks are clearing cap room, and Viktor Stalberg is slated to hit free agency on Friday.
Stalberg is a young, scoring winger for the Chicago Blackhawks who needs a new home. He fell off the depth chart during the playoffs, and a fresh start in Montreal could really help him. Stalberg is a versatile forward with upside, and he could be an ideal fit for the Habs.
Nashville Predators: Stephen Weiss
The Nashville Predators could use a center who can score, and Stephen Weiss has a proven track record.
He has been a successful pivot for the Florida Panthers, and a market like Nashville would be a good fit for Weiss. He has shown he can be a 60-point player, and that is just the type of offense the Predators are looking for.
New Jersey Devils: Daniel Briere
Daniel Briere was bought out by the Philadelphia Flyers, and he wants to stay in the local area. The New Jersey Devils are a scant distance from Philly, and he would be a great fit for a team that needs leadership.
Briere showed during HBO's 24/7 how effective he is at mentoring young players, and for that reason he would be great for a team that could use some veteran leadership.
New York Islanders: Jaromir Jagr
The New York Islanders could use some veteran scoring, and Jaromir Jagr would help the team score. While Jagr isn't going to carry a team, he is a great mentor for young players, and he leads by example. With the Islanders, Jagr would likely have a top-six role, and it would be a low-risk, high-reward transaction.
Jagr is still good for around 40 points during an 82-game season, but he could find magic with the right linemates in Nassau.
New York Rangers: Boyd Gordon
Boyd Gordon is one of the league's top faceoff men, and he would help address one of the New York Rangers' biggest needs. The team is currently up against the salary cap, and after some maneuvering, it would be able to add Gordon to the roster.
Gordon is a true "Black and Blueshirt" player, and he would legitimize the Rangers' bottom six.
Ottawa Senators: Pierre-Marc Bouchard
The Ottawa Senators have a number of talented players on their roster. They also have a blend of youth, but Pierre-Marc Bouchard would be an amazing fit and a low-risk move for the Sens. He is a winger with speed who can finish, and he would be a nice complement to Jason Spezza.
This would allow the Senators to keep their youth line of Mika Zibanejad and Jakob Silfverberg together, and it would give the team a number of scoring lines with depth.
Philadelphia Flyers: N/A
The Flyers have no more salary cap space, and they have already added Vincent Lecavalier and Mark Streit.
Phoenix Coyotes: Tyler Bozak
The Phoenix Coyotes are staying in Glendale for now, so they should focus on the future. Tyler Bozak is a decent top-six center who has improved his game each year, and he could fit in well with the Coyotes.
The Yotes have a number of wingers like Mikkel Boedker already in place, but they could use a center who can play a two-way game. Bozak isn't a first-line center, but he could fill an important need for the Coyotes.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Eric Nystrom
The Penguins may not be able to re-sign Matt Cooke because of cap constraints, so adding a bottom-six energy forward like Eric Nystrom could be a nice transaction. Nystrom is a hard-nosed forward who can play center or wing, and he is an exceptional two-way player.
Nystrom made just under $1.5 million last year, so he would be a cap-friendly contract for the Penguins.
St. Louis Blues: Jarome Iginla
Jarome Iginla would be a nice fit in St. Louis if the Penguins don't re-sign him.
Iginla wants to win a Stanley Cup, and the Blues have proved that they are a contender who really are a piece like Iginla away from having enough fire power to contend for the Cup.
They have a young defense, they have a solid goaltending tandem but their forwards could use an upgrade. A rugged scoring winger like Iginla would mesh well with David Backes, and it would be a nice pairing for the team.
San Jose Sharks: Ray Emery
The San Jose Sharks need another goaltender, and Ray Emery would be a great backup. Antti Niemi had a great season, but having a stable backup can make a starter better. If Niemi plays in fewer games, he will remain fresher and he will be more rested once the playoff come around.
Emery did well with the Blackhawks, and having a goaltender who could push Niemi would only be a positive thing.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Ryane Clowe
The Tampa Bay Lightning already have Ryan Malone, but they are trying to move his contract. If they were able to do this, targeting Ryane Clowe would be a solid second step.
Clowe is a physical winger who can contribute offensively, and he would add some extra muscle to a line with Steven Stamkos. The Lightning have a number of options, but Clowe would be a low-risk addition if the price was right.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Mike Ribeiro
Mike Ribeiro's name was already brought up, but he would be a great fit for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He would be a legitimate top center, and that would make Nazem Kadri the second-line center and Dave Bolland the third-line center.
That type of depth would help the Leafs, and they would finally have the ability to roll three lines full of quality forwards.
Vancouver Canucks: David Clarkson
The Vancouver Canucks tried to add Shane Doan during free agency last summer but were unsuccessful in doing so. The Canucks are a team that has looked to add a scoring winger with grit over the past few seasons, and David Clarkson could be the absolute perfect fit.
He has grit and jam that would make John Tortorella happy, and he is a prototypical physical grinder in a Tortorella system.
Washington Capitals: Tim Thomas
The Washington Capitals have Braden Holtby, a young goalie who projects to be the team's future starter, but they could use a reliable backup. Enter Tim Thomas. Thomas would be a great veteran backup, and Washington D.C. would be a great fit.
It would be poetic justice for "Tea Party Tim" to end up in the nation's capital, and as a backup, he would have enough free time to exercise his political beliefs.
Winnipeg Jets: Clarke MacArthur
Clarke MacArthur could be a good fit for the Winnipeg Jets, because he's a two-way winger who can get physical. There is something that appears to be appealing about having him on a line with Andrew Ladd, and that is a combination that could do some great things.
MacArthur has shown he can provide offense, but usually he is an average 30- to 40-point player. He shouldn't get too much money, but the Jets have the cap room to facilitate his acquisition.
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