Ideal Fits for the Top NHL Free Agents Still on the Market
The NHL's free-agent frenzy started on July 5, and a number of top free agents like Mikhail Grabovski remain unsigned on July 17. These players may not have contracts, but they still have a chance to fit the needs of an NHL franchise.
A couple of big names are left, and here are the most ideal fits for each remaining mercenary.
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Ideal Fit: New Jersey Devils
The New Jersey Devils could use a scorer to fill the void left by Ilya Kovalchuk. Damien Brunner had a solid rookie season, and with the correct linemates, he could be a great asset for the Devils. He has great speed, hands and work ethic.
The 27-year-old unrestricted free agent has a number of options, but joining forces with the likes of Patrik Elias and Travis Zajac would be wise.
Ryan Lambert of Backhand Shelf is surprised that Brunner hasn't been signed yet, and it is curious that there hasn't been a shade of interest from any team thus far.
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Ideal Fit: Washington Capitals
The Washington Capitals are in dire need of a dynamic top-six center. Brooks Laich is an effective third-liner center, and signing Grabovski would push him out of the top six. Can you imagine the success Grabovski could potentially have with Alex Ovechkin?
Grabovski had back-to-back 50-point seasons heading into 2012-13, but limited ice time by Randy Carlyle stunted his offensive numbers this past season. Here is a look at Grabovksi's production correlated with his average time on ice.
|Season||Points||Time On Ice||Plus/Minus of Time On Ice from Previous Season|
From 2010 to 2013, Grabovski's time on ice dropped nearly four minutes, so it isn't a mystery that he wasn't producing.
He is a great skater with smooth hands and is a dynamic offensive threat. Adding the former Toronto Maple Leafs pivot would help replace Mike Ribeiro and allow the Capitals to contend.
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Ideal Fit: Carolina Hurricanes
According to NHL.com, there is mutual interest between Jaromir Jagr and the Carolina Hurricanes. The 41-year-old winger would be a great veteran presence, and he would instantly help the Hurricanes' power play.
Jagr can still be an effective secondary scorer, and that is a role he would fill in Carolina. He would round out the team's top six, which would allow the team to move someone out to add depth to the bottom six.
The Jagr effect was well documented with the Philadelphia Flyers, and that is something that the Hurricanes are probably interested in.
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Ideal Fit: Phoenix Coyotes
Mason Raymond is a speedy two-way player who has shown he can score 50 points. He was not re-signed by the Vancouver Canucks, and the team will regret the move.
The Coyotes added Mike Ribeiro, which upgraded their speed level. Raymond would add some skill, and he would fit in Dave Tippett's two-way system.
Given the fact that he is still on the market, Raymond likely would be a relatively inexpensive addition for the Coyotes.
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Ideal Fit: Vancouver Canucks
Brenden Morrow is an ideal John Tortorella player. He is a grizzled veteran who is willing to sacrifice his body, and he leads by example. He also is willing to drop the gloves and fight, and he would add mental and physical toughness to the Canucks roster.
The Canucks have speed and skill, but they need an upgrade in toughness and grit. Morrow is a perfect fit for the team, and if cap space weren't an issue, he'd likely be a Canuck by this point.
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Ideal Fit: Tampa Bay Lightning
Ron Hainsey is a veteran blueliner currently without a job for next season. The Tampa Bay Lightning could use another defender to help solidify their back end, and Hainsey would be a welcome addition.
He is an all-around defender who is a jack-of-all-trades but a master of none.
His mobility is his biggest asset, and he could be a key contributor if paired with someone like Matt Carle or Victor Hedman. Hainsey is an ideal second-pairing defender, and it is surprising that no team has shown interest in signing him.