NHL Free Agency: Best Landing Spots for Biggest Names Left on the Market

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistJuly 24, 2013

NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 23:  Peter Mueller #88 of the Florida Panthers in action against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on March 23, 2013 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Panthers 2-1.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The 2013 NHL offseason continues to drag on, and this year’s crop of free agents has been cut down drastically over the last month.

Still, although most big names have signed, there are several top stars left on the market.

All of the following players are top free-agent targets and this is where they are predicted to land before the 2013-14 season commences.


Peter Mueller, Center

The biggest name left on the free-agency market is former Florida Panthers center Peter Mueller.

Instead of the Panthers putting in a qualifying offer on the talented restricted free agent, the franchise passed on the opportunity, per George Richards of the Miami Herald. As a result, the 25-year-old star has hit the open market.

While he hasn’t signed yet, it won’t be long before an organization takes this risk.

Mueller hasn’t played up to the expectations many placed on him after he scored 54 points in his rookie season, but finding a new home could be the key to another breakout year.

Despite allowing Mueller to walk to avoid the possibility of arbitration, Florida remains the best landing spot for the center. Losing him now would only further weaken the team's offensive ranks.

Predicted Landing Spot: Florida Panthers


Tim Thomas, Goalie

According to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun and veteran goaltender Tim Thomas’ camp, the former Boston Bruins star is looking to make a comeback in the NHL.

Despite missing an entire season, Thomas would be a smart addition for any franchise looking to add depth or even possibly looking to press a starter to play more effectively.

While there are some NHL insiders—Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated namely—that don’t believe Thomas will find the right fit in the NHL, the need from teams like Florida, Calgary and Edmonton will see the veteran find a one-year contract.

Look for a Panthers team lacking elite goaltending—Jacob Markstrom and Scott Clemmensen make for a lackluster tandem—to make the final push and sign the big-name free agent to fill the franchise's biggest void.

Predicted Landing Spot: Florida Panthers


Mikhail Grabovski, Center

One of the most underrated players on the market right now is former Toronto Maple Leafs center Mikhail Grabovski. After being bought out by the franchise, per Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star, Grabovski’s unrestricted status is a blessing for another franchise.

There is no questioning that Grabovski underperformed last season (16 points in 48 games), but a change of scenery and a scheme that fits his offensive style will help him blossom into a second-line center and 50-plus point plateau once again.

While many teams would be lucky to have a talented center like the former Maple Leaf, the team that needs him the most will be the Washington Capitals. With the loss of free agent Mike Ribeiro this offseason, adding Grabovski would be the perfect replacement.

Predicted Landing Spot: Washington Capitals