NHL Free Agency 2013: Stock Up, Stock Down for All the Top Available Players

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistJuly 3, 2013

NHL Free Agency 2013: Stock Up, Stock Down for All the Top Available Players

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    The 2013-14 season will start to come into clearer focus July 5.

    Free agency gives teams a chance to improve their roster by signing stars. While this year's class of free agents doesn't have the headliners that last year's did with Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, there are plenty of talented players available.

    Here's our stock market look at the 10 best players available on the market. This list would have included Vincent Lecavalier, but he has already signed a new deal with the Philadelphia Flyers after getting bought out by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Danny Briere: Stock Down

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    When he's at this best, Danny Briere is one of the NHL's most elusive and explosive players.

    The Philadelphia Flyers didn't think Briere, 35, would be at his best any more and they bought him out. Briere scored just six goals and 10 assists last year in 34 games. He was held to 16 goals in 2011-12.

    However, Briere is just two years removed from a 34-goal season in 2010-11. There are a number of teams that have shown interest in him because they think he still has the ability to make big plays. He has been a postseason star, scoring 109 points in 108 playoff games.

    While any player who goes through a buyout has a lot to overcome, Briere may still be a viable clutch player for any team that signs him.

Nathan Horton: Stock Up

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    Nathan Horton was a huge postseason performer for the Boston Bruins in 2011 and 2013. That should make him a solid free-agent target.

    Horton scored eight goals and had nine assists in the Bruins' 2011 Stanley Cup run. He scored three game-winning goals, and two of them came in overtime.

    He was even better in 2013. He posted seven goals and added 12 assists and was an NHL-best plus-20 in his 22 postseason games. Three of his playoff goals were once again game-winners.

    Horton has size, strength and skill. He also showed heart by playing with a damaged shoulder this spring and early summer. His regular-season numbers have not always been impressive—17 goals in 2011-12 and 13 goals in 2013—but he more than makes up for it in the playoffs.

David Clarkson: Stock Up

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    David Clarkson came into his own in 2011-12 when he netted 30 goals for the New Jersey Devils.

    He is a big, strong power forward who can go to the dirty areas and score at key moments. When the Devils made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in 2012, Clarkson scored three goals—all game winners—and nine assists.

    Clarkson checks in at 6'1" and 200 pounds and will use his size and aggressiveness to exert his will. He is a potential star and difference-maker for any team that signs him.

Mike Ribeiro: Stock Up

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    Mike Ribeiro has excellent timing. The 33-year-old center had one of his best seasons in 2013.

    Ribeiro is a skilled offensive player who scored 13 goals and added 36 assists in the truncated season. He is a fine stick-handler and an excellent passer. Many of his goals are the result of being in the right place at the right time.

    He gave the Capitals balanced scoring and helped them overcome a terrible start to make the playoffs as the Southeast Division champions. However, Ribeiro has not always been the most consistent player, and there's no guarantee he will match last year's effort or success.

    He could be a risky signing.

Stephen Weiss: Stock Down

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    If Stephen Weiss had come into free agency after a big year, he would be one of the most popular targets available.

    However, Weiss played in just 17 games this season due to a wrist injury, so he was not able to put his skill set on display. Overall, he has been a consistent player for the Panthers, having scored 20 or more goals in three straight seasons prior to 2013.

    Weiss could actually be a relative bargain for the team that signs him. If he can stay healthy, he can score at least 20 goals, kill penalties, compete on the power play and take key faceoffs.

Andrew Ference: Stock Up

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    Andrew Ference has been solid for the Boston Bruins since his arrival from the Calgary Flames in 2006-07.

    He can carry the puck, block shots, get in passing lanes and proved himself to be quite dependable in all situations. He is simply a victim of the numbers game with the Boston Bruins. With young defensemen like Torey Krug, Dougie Hamilton and Matt Bartkowski on the rise, a reliable veteran player like Ference can get shunted aside.

    For any team that needs a proven defenseman who is fearless in the biggest games, Ference would be an excellent signing.

Ilya Bryzgalov: Stock Down

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    Ilya Bryzgalov was not the goalie who could take the Philadelphia Flyers to the top.

    In the end, he may not be capable of winning a Stanley Cup. He has never shown the consistency needed to win four consecutive rounds in dominant fashion.

    However, he could be good enough for a team with serious goaltending deficiencies. He might also fit in with a smaller-market team that does not have as much pressure associated with it as Philadelphia.

    Bryzgalov had a 2.48 goals against average and a .909 save percentage in 2011-12 and a 2.79 GAA and a .900 save percentage in 2013. His playoff performance was poor in 2012, as he had a 3.46 GAA and an .887 save percentage.

    Those kind of numbers are not going to lead to a big contract offer from a Stanley Cup contender.

Rob Scuderi: Stock Up

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    Rob Scuderi can handle the responsibilities of the being a stay-at-home defenseman.

    He is not an offensive force, but he can break up plays, block shots and play a physical game. Scuderi was a vital part of head coach Darryl Sutter's defensive rotation in the Los Angeles Kings' 2012 Stanley Cup run.

    Scuderi, 34, scored one goal and 11 assists last season. He's not going to score big goals, but he will prevent them. He'd be a solid pickup for any contender looking for a reliable veteran.

Jaromir Jagr: Stock Down

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    This future Hall of Famer proved he can still play in the postseason, but his skating has slowed dramatically.

    Jaromir Jagr, 41, was somewhat snake-bitten in the playoffs. Although he was involved in a number of big plays for the Bruins, he was not able to score one postseason goal. However, there was no lack of effort from him.

    He was often in excellent position, and he ripped off a lot of shots that hit the posts or resulted in brilliant saves. Jagr has great understanding of strategy and positioning, but he can't go up and down the ice with the fluidity he once had.

Valtteri Filppula: Stock Up

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    While 2013 was not his best year—nine goals and eight assists—Valtteri Filppula is a reliable three-zone player.

    Filppula was often overlooked playing on a team of superstars with the Detroit Red Wings, but head coach Mike Babcock appreciated his offensive talent, defense and ability to carry the puck. He  understands how to win faceoffs, and he is a fine skater.

    He is a solid role player who can help his team win important games. Filppula had his best season in 2011-12 when he scored 23 goals and 43 assists. He finished that year with a plus-18 rating. He can kill penalties, skate on the power play and take a regular shift.