NHL franchises wasted little time plundering the open market for top talent when the league's free-agency period began on Tuesday. The action built up to a feverish crescendo early in the day, and it felt like the signings would never taper off. Take notes, NBA executives. This is how you close deals early.
Big names like Matt Niskanen, Jarome Iginla and Paul Stastny quickly became unavailable as teams jumped at the chance to secure their signatures.
Just because some of the best players in the league are off the market doesn't mean there isn't still plenty of intrigue to be had this summer. Quite a few talented players are still looking for a new franchise to call home.
Let's take a look at the latest buzz surrounding three free agents who can make a big impact on new teams.
David Legwand Garnering Interest from Multiple Teams
Despite the flurry of activity on Tuesday, there are still options for teams looking for depth at center.
According to TSN's Aaron Ward, several teams are looking at unrestricted free agent David Legwand, who last played for the Detroit Red Wings:
There are 8-10 teams interested in UFA David Legwand. Likes of NYI, FLA, BUFF, TOR. #TSN— Aaron Ward (@aaronward_nhl) June 30, 2014
Legwand had another strong season as a playmaker, notching 14 goals and 37 assists in 83 total games between the Nashville Predators and Red Wings in 2013-14.
The Florida Panthers are almost assuredly no longer in the running for the 33-year-old after landing centers Dave Bolland and Jussi Jokinen on Tuesday. Legwand is better off as an option for teams looking for competition on the second or third lines.
The Islanders could be a potential fit for Legwand, as they are in need of scoring help beyond John Tavares and Frans Nielsen. Legwand would be an upgrade on the back end over Brock Nelson, who totaled 26 points in 72 games last season.
Are Penguins Looking at Nikolai Kulemin?
Right winger Nikolai Kulemin is an unrestricted free agent and could already have a team interested in snatching him up after six years with the Toronto Maple Leafs, as per Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star:
Some holes might get bigger, especially if the Leafs lose some of their own free agents. The Pittsburgh Penguins are after Kulemin to replace James Neal, who was traded at the draft to Nashville, while Bolland and Raymond are drawing interest from around the league.
The Maple Leafs could be keen to bring back Kulemin after losing Bolland and Mason Raymond, although the 27-year-old Russian is entering his prime and might draw further interest around the league.
Then again, Kulemin has struggled to recapture the form of his excellent 2010-11 season, when he racked up 30 goals and 27 assists in 82 games.
Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette relayed Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford's thoughts on Kulemin:
Rutherford on Kulemin: "I guess there's always a chance, but it would take someone getting very, very creative" ...— Dave Molinari (@MolinariPG) July 1, 2014
This coupling may never come to fruition, but there is still plenty of time for Kulemin to survey the landscape. Not every free agent has to make a deal right off the bat.
Mikhail Grabovski Pursued by Multiple Teams
Mikhail Grabovski will no longer be a member of the Washington Capitals, as the team decided not to re-sign the playmaking center. Rogers SportsNet's Chris Johnston first reported the news:
Mikhail Grabovski will test the free agent market. The #caps decided not to meet his price.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) July 1, 2014
Washington general manager Brian MacLellan gave some insight on the team's decision to pass on Grabovski, via the Washington Post's Alex Prewitt:
MacLellan said the #Caps decided against pursuing Grabovski further after they settled on going after two Ds, not one D, one C.— Alex Prewitt (@alex_prewitt) July 1, 2014
According to Grabovski's agent, there are already plenty of potential suitors for his client. Via Prewitt:
Grabovski's agent confirms the center will test the free agent market. Estimated "around a dozen teams" have expressed interest.— Alex Prewitt (@alex_prewitt) July 1, 2014
Grabovski would be a decent fit for a team looking for a second-line center this offseason. He racked up 13 goals and 22 assists in 58 games for the Capitals last season. He is just 30 years old and can still be a viable contributor for several years.
But overall he hits what needs to be the sweet spot for the Oilers – plausibly attainable, undervalued by other teams, and yet capable of making a difference wherever he lands (That’s why we talked about him last year before he signed a bargain deal with Washington).
Grabovski could be useful for a team looking for a stopgap solution to back up talented players. He could garner interest similar to that of Legwand and may be a more attractive option considering he is three years younger than the former Predator.