2013 NHL Free Agency: The Most Underrated Players Still on the Market

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistJuly 8, 2013

2013 NHL Free Agency: The Most Underrated Players Still on the Market

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    Many of the big-name free agents have been signed to big-money, headline-making deals.

    In some cases, such as the signing of Daniel Alfredsson by the Detroit Red Wings, the deals were shocking. Alfredsson had spent his entire career with the Ottawa Senators, and few thought he would leave the team at the age of 40.

    While many of the big names have come off the board, there's still plenty of talent available.

    Here's a look at the most underrated players left on the board.

8. Tim Thomas

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    It seems like every general manager looking for a legitimate goaltender has forgotten about Tim Thomas and his accomplishments.

    Thomas may be a bit quirky and rusty, but he won two Vezina Trophies, as well as a Conn Smythe Trophy in 2011, when the Boston Bruins won their first Stanley Cup in 39 years.

    Thomas, 39, told his agent that he was interested in a possible return to the NHL, but he's yet to come off the market.

    Thomas has demonstrated that he is capable of carrying a team to the NHL's ultimate prize. Perhaps it's a bit of a gamble to bet on Thomas for the future, but it's a bet that could pay off dramatically. The longer he remains available, the more motivated Thomas should be if he gets a chance to return.

7. Brenden Morrow

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    Brenden Morrow was a solid, two-way productive left wing for many years with the Dallas Stars.

    The Pittsburgh Penguins were able to acquire him at the trade deadline, and he scored 14 points in 15 regular-season games with the Penguins. While he couldn't come close to those numbers in the postseason—two goals and two assists in 14 games—he did not lose his talent.

    Morrow is not the fastest skater, but he can go to the dirty areas, control the puck and make plays. He can still contribute for a solid team, and it seems he's not getting his due at this point.

6. Daniel Cleary

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    Daniel Cleary is one of those self-made players who has been overlooked throughout his career.

    He is not a superstar, because he's not the fastest skater and doesn't have the hardest shot. However, he always hustles, he's not afraid to take an elbow to make a play for his team and he is often in the right place at the right time. He has been a positive influence for the Red Wings since the 2005-06 season.

    Cleary, 34, has not been plucked in the first week of free agency. He did not have a productive 2013 regular season with nine goals and six assists, but he had 10 points in 14 playoff games.

    He can score in the clutch. That could help a playoff team win an important postseason game.

5. Wade Redden

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    Wade Redden was an impact player with the Ottawa Senators, but he got buried by the Rangers when head coach John Tortorella felt that he lacked the speed and ability to make an impact on Broadway.

    Redden was forced to play minor league hockey until the Rangers bought him out at the end of the lockout. He signed a deal with the St. Louis Blues and was traded to the Boston Bruins at the trade deadline.

    He seemed comfortable in Boston, playing on the same team as former Senator Zdeno Chara. Redden played six regular-season games with the Bruins and five more in the playoffs before he was sidelined with an injury. Redden had a goal and an assist in his five playoff games, and he looked good carrying the puck.

    He could be a decent defenseman for any team that signs him.

4. Ian White

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    Ian White is a stay-at-home defenseman who has good skills. He can carry the puck, read the play and has a decent right-handed shot.

    However, White was unable to find his comfort level in 2013, and he was a healthy scratch for the Red Wings in the last nine games of the regular season and all 14 playoff games. White lacks size and is not a thumper, but he is a skilled player when healthy. He's plus-60 for his career.

    Head coach Mike Babcock let White know he was not going to be re-signed shortly after the Red Wings were eliminated from the playoffs by the Chicago Blackhawks.

    “It didn't go the way Whitey wanted it,'' Babcock told Ansar Khan of MLive. “Whitey's a real good person, a real good man. We wish him luck.''

3. Kyle Wellwood

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    Kyle Wellwood could turn out to be a bargain for any team that is sharp enough to give him a chance.

    Wellwood struggled throughout the truncated 2013 season. He was held to six goals and nine assists for the Winnipeg Jets. However, Wellwood, 29, scored 18 goals and had 29 assists in 2011-12. He also had four power-play goals that season.

    Wellwood is a shifty skater and sees the ice well. While it didn't look like it last season, Wellwood can pick the corner with his surprising shot.

2. Brad Boyes

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    Brad Boyes started off as a young player who established himself as a decent scorer with the Boston Bruins. Then he came into his own with the St. Louis Blues, scoring 43 and 33 goals in back-to-back seasons in 2007-08 and 2008-09.

    He failed to sustain his success and was traded to Buffalo. He was ultimately released and picked up by the Islanders. He became a factor again in 2013, scoring 10 goals and adding 25 assists.

    Boyes, 30, should have several productive seasons left. There's no reason he can't be a 20-goal scorer again in the NHL. He has a strong wrist shot and can be a difference-maker.

1. Damien Brunner

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    Damien Brunner became a big-time contributor for the Detroit Red Wings last year. He was not one of their big-time players, but Brunner showed the ability to get open in the offensive zone and make plays.

    He scored 12 goals and 14 assists in his first NHL regular season. He continued to contribute in the postseason, as he scored five goals and four assists. One of his postseason goals was a game-winner in overtime.

    Brunner seems to understand the timing of the game. He will go to the scoring areas and find a way to get open. He could turn out to be a solid clutch scoring weapon once he signs a contract.