NHL Free Agency 2014: Ranking the Best Players Left at Every Position
The NHL's free-agent market has wrapped up its intense first three days. A number of stars were quickly signed on July 1, including Paul Stastny, Thomas Vanek, Matt Niskanen, Ryan Miller and Jarome Iginla.
While most of the top players are gone, there remains enough talent in the market to entice NHL general managers. The type of players available will make solid depth signings. Secondary scorers, checking-line forwards, second- or third-pairing defensemen and backup goaltenders can be had for the right price.
Here's a look at the best players remaining at each position—after three days of signings—in this year's unrestricted free-agent market. Skill level, performance, age, experience and leadership factored into the compilation of this list.
3. Tim Thomas: He's a former Vezina and Conn Smythe trophy winner but at 40 he's coming to the end of his career. Thomas could attract interest as a backup on a one-year contract.
1. Martin Brodeur: Though no longer a top starting goaltender, Brodeur could be a good backup on a playoff contender. ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun reports the Toronto Maple Leafs inquired about Brodeur.
2. Michael Del Zotto: Became an unrestricted free agent after the Nashville Predators decided not to qualify his rights. Only 24, Del Zotto could be an enticing gamble for clubs in need of a speedy puck-handling blueliner.
1. Anton Volchenkov: Received a compliance buyout from the New Jersey Devils. The 32-year-old Volchenkov is a reliable, though oft-injured, shot-blocking defender. He could become a depth signing for clubs in need of blue line grit.
3. Steve Ott: Versatile and gritty veteran forward. The Buffalo News' John Vogl recently reported the Buffalo Sabres (Ott's former team) spoke to Ott's agent before the free-agency period.
1. Mike Ribeiro: The Arizona Coyotes bought out the 34-year-old center citing “behavioral issues”. Despite this, he has a 47-point performance last season. ESPN.com's Scott Burnside wondered if a team will take a chance on him.
2. Devin Setoguchi: Only 27, Setoguchi struggled to regain the 30-goal form from earlier in his career. He could become an affordable gamble on a one-year deal.
1. Daniel Alfredsson: ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun reports if Alfredsson returns for 2014-15 it will likely only be with the Detroit Red Wings. His agent told LeBrun the 41-year-old right wing is leaning toward returning.
5. Ray Whitney: The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson speculated the Arizona Coyotes, Whitney's former team, might have some interest, but the winger doesn't know what their plans are. It remains to be seen if anyone takes a chance on the 42-year-old Whitney.
4. Brenden Morrow: The 35-year-old physical winger has been slowed by injuries in recent years. Still, Morrow's experience and leadership could make him worthwhile as a fourth-liner.
3. Dany Heatley: At 33 Heatley's years as a scoring star are well behind him. If he's willing to accept a one-year deal there could be interest in him as a checking winger.
1. David Booth: The injury-plagued Booth received a compliance buyout from the Canucks. Teams in need of scoring might be willing to gamble a one-year deal on the former three-time 20-plus goal scorer.