NHL Free Agents 2014: Predicting Destinations for Top Available Stars

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NHL Free Agents 2014: Predicting Destinations for Top Available Stars
USA TODAY Sports

As the NHL offseason begins with free agency just around the corner, there are a number of stars who will be looking for new deals, and there are certain teams that will likely be trying to sign them.

Free agency officially begins on July 1, with players free to sign with any team they would like after that point. Before then, free agents can meet with teams from June 25 through June 30 for interviews, where they may discuss the parameters of potential contracts.

Before those interviews begin, here are a few available stars along with predictions of where they could land this offseason.

 

Paul Stastny

Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

At 28 years old, Paul Stastny has been one of the more reliable players for the Colorado Avalanche over the years, spending his entire career up to this point with the team. Now that he's a free agent, there's a possibility he could go to a new team, but Avalanche fans are hoping that he will stay.

This past season, Stastny played in 71 games, putting up 25 goals and 35 assists with a plus-minus of plus-nine. Since joining the team in 2006, he's had 458 career points, and team executive Joe Sakic is hoping that the Avalanche can bring him back.

"We're hopeful we can sign him," Sakic told Adrian Dater from The Denver Post. "We have our structure, and I know he understands that. He's earned the right to be unrestricted. If he chooses that path, he has the right to do that and see what's out there. But we're definitely hopeful to keep Paul here."

Back in March, Stastny admitted that he'd be willing to come back to Colorado at a discount, according to Terry Frei from The Denver Post, saying:

Everybody knows how the business works. You can obviously go somewhere and get more money somewhere else. But if you have something good and you want to stick with it, that hometown discount is obviously something that everyone's aware of and is important to do. You want both sides to be happy. You don't want to (mistreat) the team and you want the team to be put in a good situation where they can kind of compete down the road as well.

Currently in the prime of his career, Stastny is a great playmaker at center who has become a popular player for the Avalanche. With the two sides wanting him to return, we should expect to see Stastny with the Avalanche for at least a few more years.

Predicted destination: Colorado Avalanche

 

Thomas Vanek

USA TODAY Sports

A lot of teams will be trying to pursue that talented goal-scoring left wing Thomas Vanek, but after a shaky postseason, the 30-year-old might have cost himself a bigger payday than he was hoping for.

Still, the numbers are hard to ignore with Vanek. This past season, Vanek played for the Buffalo Sabres, Montreal Canadiens and New York Islanders, putting up 27 goals and 41 assists during the year. However, he was as productive in the postseason as the Canadiens were expecting. He had five goals and five assists in 17 games, posting a minus-four in the plus-minus category.

While it almost seemed like a lock that Vanek would go to the Minnesota Wild, Michael Russo from the Star Tribune is reporting that a deal is no longer a sure thing after his shaky postseason play. However, according to Phil Mackey from 1500 ESPN, Hall of Famer Lou Nanne still believes there's a 60 percent chance the Wild bring Vanek in.

Some struggles in the playoffs shouldn't keep the Wild from signing him. He may be a streaky scorer, but when he's hot, he can put the team on his back and help it win games.

Predicted destination: Minnesota Wild

 

Jarome Iginla

Winslow Townson/Associated Press

Even at 36 years old, Jarome Iginla continues to be a productive right wing in the NHL, and while he won't be a long-term option anywhere, teams will still be tempted to sign him on a short-term deal.

According to Spotrac, Iginla's most recent contract was a one-year deal worth $1.8 million, so he can likely expect another deal similar to that one for next season. During his one season with the Boston Bruins, he still put up solid numbers, racking up 30 goals and 31 assists with a career-best plus-minus rating of plus-34, which was tied with Anze Kopitar for the fourth-highest in the NHL.

After playing with the Calgary Flames for over 15 seasons, there's a chance that he comes back for a farewell tour. However, according to Joe Haggerty from CSNNE.com, the Bruins are holding off on all other free agents while they focus on getting a deal done with Iginla.

For an opportunity to play for a Stanley Cup contender, it may be hard for Iginla to pass up on an opportunity to finally be a champion.

Predicted destination: Boston Bruins

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