The Riskiest Moves in 2013 NHL Free Agency So Far

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistJuly 9, 2013

The Riskiest Moves in 2013 NHL Free Agency So Far

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    It truly is a feeding frenzy in the early hours of free agency. Teams make huge megabucks offers to players, and those players may be able to pick and choose which team they are going to play for the following season.

    Scouts prepare reports on each player available and then general managers and coaches make their decisions on which players to go after and sign.

    There can be mountains of positive evidence, but every signing comes with at least some risk. However, some free-agent signings are more risky than others.

    Here's a look at the riskiest moves so far in free agency.

    (All contract terms and salary figures courtesy of

Ryane Clowe, New Jersey Devils

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    New Contract: Five years, $24.25 million

    2013 Teams: San Jose Sharks, New York Rangers

    Key Risk: Clowe is a solid effort player who will go into the corners, take all kinds of physical abuse, attempt to hold on to the puck and make a play for his team. He's a solid defensive player who will play all 200 feet of the ice and he will not cut corners.

    However, Clowe has a difficult time putting the puck in the net. He did not score at all before coming to the Rangers at the trade deadline. Once he got to New York, he scored three goals. Clowe is not an offensive difference maker, yet the Devils paid him as if he was a potential star. Clowe's track record shows he should score 15-20 goals, and a team with financial problems overpaid for him.

Nathan Horton, Columbus Blue Jackets

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    New Contract: Seven years, $37.1 million

    2013 Teams: Boston Bruins

    Key Risk: Horton has proven to be a solid playoff performer with the Bruins. He had three game-winning goals in the 2011 Stanley Cup run, including two in overtime. He was just as good this time around with seven goals and 12 assists. That made him a very attractive player in free agency.

    There are two problems. Horton may not have a chance to show off his postseason talents with the Blue Jackets since they have only been to the playoffs once in their history. Horton is not the most dependable regular-season player, either. He has scored 30 or more goals once in his career and it seems like he should be more productive.

    Horton will not be at his best in 2013-14 as he is slated to undergo shoulder surgery that could keep him out until mid-January.

    #CBJ RW Nathan Horton will have shoulder surgery next week in Boston. Day has not been settled yet. 4-6 months recovery.

    — Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) July 9, 2013

Danny Briere, Montreal Canadiens

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    New Contract: Two years, $8 million.

    2013 Teams: Philadelphia Flyers

    Key Risk: Briere has been one of the most exciting and elusive players throughout his career, but he is coming off back-to-back disappointing seasons with the Flyers and he was bought out by Philadelphia.

    Briere, 35, can still skate and get open, but the Canadiens need bigger and stronger players if they are not going to peter out at the end of the season like they did in 2013. Even if Briere still has the talent to contribute, he is not going to help the Canadiens in the size and strength department.

Vincent Lecavalier, Philadelphia Flyes

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    New Contract: Five years, $22.5 million.

    2013 Teams: Tampa Bay Lightning

    Key Risk: Lecavalier has never been a bad player in his career, but the Lightning decided he wasn't quite worth the money on his last contract and they bought him out of a 14-year, $32.6 million deal.

    Several teams were interested in Lecavalier and the Flyers won out. However, they don't appear to be getting a superstar at this point. Lecavalier is a good-but-not-great player at this point in his career. He scored 10 goals and 22 assists in the shortened season and he may not be more than a 20-goal, 60-point player at this point in his career.

    The Flyers may have overpaid to get him

Valtteri Filppula, Tampa Bay Lightning

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    New Contract: Five years, $25 million.

    2013 Teams: Detroit Red Wings

    Key Risk: Filppula has been a decent two-way, complementary player throughout his career with the Detroit Red Wings. The Tampa Bay Lightning, recognizing his skill as a defensive player, gave him an impressive contract.

    On one level, Filppula can help them because they have been a weak defensive team and he can help them in that area. However, Filppula is not a difference maker. He scored nine goals and eight assists last year and he does not appear to be worth $5 million per year. Filppula has scored 20 goals or more once in his career.

David Clarkson, Toronto Maple Leafs

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    New Contract: Seven years, $36.75 million.

    2013 Teams: New Jersey Devils

    Key Risk: Clarkson should be just the kind of player who can help the Leafs get tougher, stronger and more effective in the late stages of any important game. He thrives in the tough areas of the offensive zone.

    Clarkson scored 30 goals in 2011-12 and he followed that up with 15 in the truncated 2013 season. The problem with Clarkson is the length of the Maple Leafs' commitment to him and the amount they are paying for him. Clarkson is a good player but not a superstar and they appear to have overpaid for him.

Evgeni Nabokov, New York Islanders

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    New Contract: One year, $3.25 million.

    2013 Teams: New York Islanders

    Key Risk: The Islanders were one of the most surprising teams in the league in the second half of the season as they escaped the lower levels of the Eastern Conference to earn the No. 8 spot in the playoffs.

    Once they got there, they had the top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins on the run before they fell in six games. The Islanders gave up too many soft goals in the series as Nabokov was not as competent in the net as the rest of his teammates were in the series. Nabokov had a 4.44 goals-against average and an .842 save percentage.

    That should have been clear and convincing evidence that the Islanders needed an upgrade in goal. However, the Islanders have decided to go back with Nabokov and that will likely be quite costly.

Daniel Alfredsson, Detroit Red Wings

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    New Contract: One year, $5.5 million.

    2013 Teams: Ottawa Senators

    Key Risk: Alfredsson has been one of the best players in the NHL throughout his career. He made the tough decision to leave the Senators at this point because he thinks he will have a better chance to hoist the Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings.

    That's probably a logical decision, but the shift from Ottawa to Detroit may not be an easy one. Alfredsson, 40, may have a hard time adjusting to a new team, a new coach and a new system. Even if he doesn't, he will be a part of the team and not the main cog. That will take an adjustment.

    His decision to leave Ottawa has angered many Ottawa fans, and that knowledge could weigh heavily on this future Hall of Famer.