Matt Niskanen, Jarome Iginla and Paul Stastny may be off the market, but understand that NHL free agency is just getting started.
Now that the acts of desperation that led to half a billion dollars being spent in the first 24 hours are over, the savvy franchises can emerge from the ashes and strike smart deals to better build a roster that can compete for the Stanley Cup.
The remaining top names include a legendary player, a sound veteran with plenty to offer and a prospect with upside making his way back overseas to rejoin the NHL.
So yes, the next few weeks are going to be pretty entertaining—at a bargain of a price.
The No. 8 overall pick from the 2006 NHL draft is making his way back to the United States after a brief reprieve from the NHL to rehab his image.
An image that was, of course, ruined by time with the Florida Panthers:
Peter Mueller has had his struggles with concussion issues in the past, but at 26 years old and showing early in his career that he can be an elite scorer, he is a great bargain at this stage of free agency. Last year in Switzerland, he even led the league in goals with 24 in 49 games.
That would explain why Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News notes that plenty of teams are in the sweepstakes, including the Philadelphia Flyers:
One of the best value players left on the board is Peter Mueller. His agent won't divulge list of team, but I believe #Flyers are in the mix— Frank Seravalli (@DNFlyers) July 2, 2014
Of course, the Flyers have interest. Entering the offseason after a 42-30-10 campaign, the front office needs to add sound talent at a reasonable price, and Mueller sure would look good at the wing with Jake Voracek and Claude Giroux right now.
There is always the chance another team in the running that has yet to make themselves known will steal him, so keep a close eye out.
The market for Steve Ott is hot.
As it should be. There are not many impactful 31-year-old wingers left at this point, and Ott's experience and nine goals, 14 assists and 23 points last year suggest he has plenty left in the tank if he lands with the right team.
According to Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, a bevy of teams have, or will show, interest in the high-energy veteran because of his work ethic's residual effect on a locker room:
Remember, at some point, the Wild’s expected to acquire a physical defenseman to replace Clayton Stoner. It may also look to replace the gritty element up front of Cody McCormick. ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun -- the great Pierre LeBrun, I may add -- reports the Wild has shown interest in Steve Ott, the former Dallas Stars agitator/smack talker and Sabres captain who was dealt with Ryan Miller to St. Louis last season. He once fought Cal Clutterbuck twice in the same game after Ott ran Josh Harding either that game or the game before, I can't remember. Ott can play center and wing and kills penalties.
Toronto has also shown interest in Ott, I have heard.
A tweet from NHL radio host Matthew Barnaby put it best when the market opened:
Steve Ott is a great character guy that should be snagged quick. There is serious interest from multiple teams. Buff not one I believe— Matthew Barnaby (@MattBarnaby3636) July 1, 2014
"I don't know what my situation is. It's way too early to even think about that," Ott told Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News. "I don't want to think about that. I'm still thinking I'm running for a Cup right now."
A class act even near the end of the season with free agency in sight, a contender is set to get a steal given how long Ott has remained on the market. Expect him to make the most of what may be his final NHL contract.
Sorry, but the Martin Brodeur saga is not going anywhere.
Heck, it might just last the entire summer, as ESPN's Pierre LeBrun points out:
Brodeur camp did talk to likes of TB and Pitt but obviously no deals there... Will be very patient... even if it takes all summer....— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) July 2, 2014
Although, LeBrun does note that the Pittsburgh Penguins almost ended the fun prematurely:
Hear the Penguins did speak with Brodeur's camp but couldn't make the money work. Signed Greiss instead.— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) July 1, 2014
Those are the type of franchises that will come after a 21-year veteran making his first appearance on the market. However, even Brodeur has to understand that his dream scenario of a lofty final contract and a contender that gives him ample playing time is rapidly fading.
Well, unless Brodeur plays his cards, as Katie Strang of ESPN hints:
Minnesota, Pittsburgh and Toronto were floated as possible landing spots for the three-time Stanley Cup champion, but the Penguins signed backup Thomas Greiss, the Maple Leafs opted (at least for now) not to trade James Reimer and the Wild curiously stood pat despite their uncertainty in net.
Brodeur is currently evaluating a few different options, but is content to wait longer than originally anticipated if the right fit does not present itself, a source told ESPN.com.
How long exactly? It may behoove Brodeur to wait until training camp, when an untimely injury could prompt a team to seek immediate help.
See that last bit about waiting until training camp? Pure genius. Injuries can and will happen, and when they do, Brodeur could be there with contract demands in hand. Oh, and a resume that includes a save percentage that has never wavered below .900 in more than two decades of netminding.
Whether Brodeur is a starter next year in the neighborhood of 50-60 games or a backup in the 20-30 range doesn't matter—it will be a destination of his choosing, and that team will be a serious contender. So fans of the team he lands with should rejoice, because the guy has a good feel for hockey at this stage of his career.