A team cannot teach experience, but it can buy some.
While there was tons happening on the phones and Twitter yesterday, as many of the top names on the free-agent market were signing deals or getting trading, there wasn’t a ton of movement among veterans. There are still a few notable names up for grabs.
Many veterans will look to sign deals in order to win one last Stanley Cup before they’re too old to take the ice. Organizations don’t tend to want to get older but will take on contracts of veteran players if it means improving the roster and the attitude in the locker room. If a 40-year-old gives a team the best shot to win it all, expect it to sign that player and pass on the 25-year-old.
Here are three veterans who may decide to stay home next season, but if they do return to the NHL, they will provide a lot of value and experience to their teams. They are, without a doubt, the crème of the older crop. All eyes will be looking to see if they give it one more year in the league.
Teemu Selanne, Forward
Teemu Selanne’s rookie campaign came in the 1992-93 season and he hit the NHL running—or skating, I suppose. In 84 games that year, he scored 76 goals and tallied 56 assists for 132 points. Basically, while I was turning one year old, Selanne was taking the hockey world by storm on the ice.
Selanne has had a remarkable career, but he only has one Stanley Cup in 20 seasons in the NHL. This past season, he was the oldest player in the postseason, per the official Twitter account of the NHL, as the Ducks were hoping to make their way through the playoffs to get Selanne his second championship:
Teemu Selanne was the oldest active player in the Playoffs. Happy 43rd Birthday to the Finnish Flash: http://t.co/bZybYppMQr— NHL (@NHL) July 4, 2013
At 43 years old, it wouldn’t surprise anyone if Selanne finally hung up his skates. But there is still the chance that he signs with a contender who has a strong chance at winning the title next season. It’s not like the forward isn’t productive anymore. He had 24 points in 46 games this past season and hasn’t shown signs of slowing down.
Jaromir Jagr, Forward
Will Jaromir Jagr be back for one more season?
The 41-year-old forward has played 19 years in the NHL and is a two-time Stanley Cup champion, although those championships were won well in the past. Jagr hasn’t won a title since the 1992 season, but he came close this past year after getting dealt to the Boston Bruins, who lost the title the Chicago Blackhawks.
After the Bruins lost, many wondered whether Jagr would be back with the team for the 2013-14 season. Once Nathan Horton decided to test the free-agent waters, it appeared that there was an opening for the veteran. Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo! Sports asked whether Horton’s decision would entice the Bruins to bring Jagr back.
Now, that doesn’t seem very likely. The Bruins signed Jarome Iginla, per Joe McDonald of ESPN Boston, which probably means the end of Jagr’s short run in Boston. Jagr had nine points in 11 regular-season games for the Bruins, but failed to put the puck in the back of the net in the playoffs, tallying 10 assists in 22 games.
Vinny Prospal, Forward
The Columbus Blue Jackets have been big spenders already this summer, but there may not be enough money left in the bank for a veteran forward like Vinny Prospal. The 38-year-old has played the last two seasons in Columbus, totaling 55 points in 2011-12 and 30 points this past season.
Columbus signed the aforementioned Horton to a seven-year, $37.1 million deal yesterday, according to Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated. There’s still a chance that Prospal returns to the Blue Jackets, though. Aaron Portzline of The Columbus Dispatch says “we shall see” regarding the future of Prospal in Columbus:
#CBJ have not closed the door on Vinny Prospal, but his salary demands may have to soften to make it work. File this under: We shall see— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) July 5, 2013
The Blue Jackets currently have around $2.7 million of cap space remaining, according to CapGeek.com. That might not be enough to get the deal done, though. Portzline reports that Prospal wants to return to the Blue Jackets for the upcoming season, but the center isn’t sure what’s going to happen.