The NHL's 2013 class of free agents is one of the most interesting crops in recent memory. It may not be comprised of many stars entering their prime, but there is plenty of star power nonetheless. Most of that star power comes in the form of veterans who are nearing the end of their respective careers, however.
Even though they may no longer be capable of putting up 50 goals or 100 points in a season, their experience is invaluable. For contending teams and clubs that are on the verge of contending for a Stanley Cup, bringing in a player who has been through the playoff grind many times is a huge deal.
Here is the latest gossip surrounding the likes of Daniel Alfredsson, Daniel Briere and more coveted players as free agency begins on Friday.
No player is more synonymous with the Ottawa Senators organization than winger Daniel Alfredsson. In 17 seasons with the Sens, Alfredsson has accrued 426 goals and 682 assists. His numbers may very well be worthy of the Hall of Fame, and he would be the first pure Senator to be enshrined in Toronto. With that said, Alfredsson is an unrestricted free agent and is free to sign wherever he pleases. Most believe that Alfredsson will play in Ottawa if he plays at all, but ESPN's Pierre LeBrun is reporting that the Boston Bruins have contacted Alfredsson's agent.
Whether or not Alfredsson decides to sign with Boston is up for debate, but it would certainly make sense from all perspectives involved. The Bruins fell just short of winning the Stanley Cup this past season and could potentially lose two key forwards to free agency. Nathan Horton and Jaromir Jagr are both set to test the market, so Boston could be priced out, as it needs to make room for a Tuukka Rask extension.
Alfredsson is a possibility because he probably wouldn't cost an exorbitant amount, and he is likely a one-year-deal guy. Despite the fact that Alfredsson is 40 years old, he put up 26 points in 47 games this past season and is capable of being a 50-point player in a supporting role. The allure of winning the Cup could lead him to Boston, but he also has to think about how it would affect Senators fans. Alfredsson is definitely someone worth watching during the free-agency period.
There has been a ton of interest in forward Daniel Briere ever since he was bought out by the Philadelphia Flyers, but it looks as though Briere has whittled down the field. A number of contending teams and franchises on the verge of contending could really benefit from Briere's presence and postseason experience, but according to LeBrun, the Montreal Canadiens, New Jersey Devils and Nashville Predators are Briere's top three choices.
Montreal definitely makes sense, as he was heavily rumored to land there the last time he was a free agent. Also, Briere is from Quebec, and the Habs had a fantastic regular season last year. Montreal bowed out in the first round of the playoffs, though, as the Senators proved to be too much. With that said, the Canadiens have a lot of talent and could really use a guy who knows how to win in the playoffs, and Briere certainly qualifies.
As for New Jersey and Nashville, those choices are a bit more questionable. Both teams missed the playoffs this past season after going on a nice run the previous year, so perhaps they feel as though the addition of Briere will put them back where they need to be. Playing time might be a big draw as far as Briere is concerned with the Preds, as they don't have much up the middle. The Devils could possibly offer playing time alongside Ilya Kovalchuk as well, which would be great for Briere from a statistical standpoint. No matter where Briere goes, he will be a great help to the younger players and he should mesh well with the veterans as well.
The center position has been an issue for the Toronto Maple Leafs for quite some time, so it should come as no surprise to learn that the Leafs are interested in one of the top pivots on the market. According to TheFourthPeriod.com, Toronto will be one of the teams in on former Florida Panthers center Stephen Weiss. The 30-year-old center has been a steady player for a long time, but he has never really gotten much credit due to the fact that he has been playing in Florida.
Weiss missed much of last season due to injury, but he had become a reliable point producer before that, as he racked up at least 57 points in three out of four seasons. The Leafs have really lacked stability down the middle, although Nazem Kadri proved his worth this past season. Toronto's No. 2 center is Tyler Bozak, but he is also a free agent. Bozak is reportedly asking for an eight-year deal worth nearly $5 million per season, but the Leafs have understandably resisted such an offer, according to TheFourthPeriod.com.
Even though Weiss has dealt with some injuries, his upside is far greater than Bozak's from an offensive perspective. Weiss never had great linemates in Florida, but he could certainly do something special alongside players like Phil Kessel, James Van Riemsdyk and Joffrey Lupul. If the Leafs can nab Weiss for an offer comparable to what Bozak is asking for, they should jump at the chance.
Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter