The conclusion of the 2014 NHL draft has many hockey fans catching their breath before the madness that is the free-agency period starting on July 1 and the countless rumors that will surface over the coming days.
With top names like Paul Stastny, Thomas Vanek and Martin Brodeur all scheduled to hit the open market, the talk of where they could land has fans buzzing over what could be a blockbuster offseason.
Here is the latest buzz surrounding the biggest stars as the free-agency period opens.
Paul Stastny Gaining Serious Interest?
There are many talented players hitting free agency this year, but few have the raw skill and track record that Colorado Avalanche center Paul Stastny possesses. Of course he is going to gain serious interest on the open market.
Hard to figure out where Paul Stastny will land but the Colorado centre has got a lot of interest with upwards of 15 teams making calls. The Avalanche wants to keep him at a reasonable price but you can expect the Blues, Predators, Leafs and Wings to make a hard push.
With free agency looming, Stastny put together his best statistical season since 2009-10. He racked up 25 goals and 35 assists in 71 games and proved he would be a valuable asset as a second-line center for any playoff contender.
One major factor to consider, though, is the salary Stastny will be expecting. After making $6.6 million each of the last five seasons, a team interested in signing the 28-year-old will have to boast the need at center and the salary-cap room to make it work.
The recent drop of the salary cap to $69 million will make getting a deal done even harder.
Minnesota Wild Making a Big Free-Agent Splash?
The Minnesota Wild have the rabid fanbase to support a long-term winning franchise, but the team needs a few more game changers before the it could ever hope of contending for a Stanley Cup Championship.
After signing stars like Ryan Suter and Zach Parise via free agency, Minnesota will be looking to add a few more players to add the depth and talent needed to contend with the powerhouses in the Western Conference.
In the same report from Garrioch, he reports that the Wild are looking to make a huge splash by trying to sign high-priced stars like Thomas Vanek and Matt Niskanen:
The Minnesota Wild may be aggressive in the free agent market. It has already held talks with Montreal winger Thomas Vanek and are among eight teams that are considered serious. Reports indicate the Wild has also spoke with representatives for defenceman Matt Niskanen.
If Minnesota could sign both of these players, the team would be considered a dark horse to contend for the championship next season, depending on the play of whoever is in net at the time for the Wild.
Vanek is one of the most gifted goal scorers in the NHL, but showed true talent by amassing 27 goals and 41 assists despite being traded twice during the season. The mental toughness he showed will only help his case for a long-term deal.
Add in the two-way ability of Niskanen (46 points and a plus/minus of 33 last season), and Minnesota would add the scoring consistency and depth needed to get over the championship hump.
Martin Brodeur Wants to Play for a Contender?
There are several teams who need goaltending depth for the next season, and the idea of adding a grizzled veteran like Martin Brodeur as a backup may be a dream come true for franchises on the cusp of contending for a Stanley Cup.
If a starting goalie goes down, the possibility of replacing him with Brodeur would be ideal.
According to Louis Jean of TVA Sports, there are at least four championship contenders that are interested in the netminder:
There is no doubt that at 42 years old, Brodeur has lost a step in net, but he still has the ability to rise to an occasion and put a team on his shoulders for a short time. This first-ballot Hall of Famer would be a welcomed addition to any locker room.
After racking up 19 wins, a 2.51 goals-against average and a .901 save percentage last season for the New Jersey Devils, Brodeur has shown that he still could be a continuing factor to a team in the championship hunt.
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