There is no getting around it. The 2014 NHL free-agent pool dried up quickly in the first three days of July, as the smartest teams siphoned off the best talent available and left those with bad cell phone connections and terrible data plans no chance to make the necessary moves.
However, NHL contenders aren't solely made up of first-line talent and young hotshots ready to put a move on the old guard. Depth and veteran leadership are two factors that can determine whether or not a team is challenging for the Stanley Cup or red-lining names in hopes of a quick rebuild.
Let's take a look at the latest rumblings surrounding a trio of quality players still out on the open market.
Martin Brodeur Will Take His Time
According to ESPN.com's Katie Strang, longtime New Jersey Devil goalie Martin Brodeur is mulling over offers from several NHL teams: "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."
On Tuesday, ESPN's Pierre LeBrun dropped the names of two teams that may be interested in Brodeur's veteran services:
NHL.com's Dan Rosen gave his analysis on several teams that could use Brodeur, including the Toronto Maple Leafs:
Brodeur might fit with the Maple Leafs provided they trade James Reimer, who is a restricted free agent. Reimer reportedly asked to be traded, but Toronto is under no obligation to grant his wish, especially when he can be a reliable backup to Jonathan Bernier.
Brodeur is destined for a backup role with his new team. The legendary netminder had a pedestrian .901 save percentage and 2.51 goals-against average in 39 games for the Devils last season.
Motivation could be a key factor here. Brodeur has played his entire career with the Devils and won three Stanley Cup championships. There is very little left for him to prove.
A run at another championship could excite any player—which would make the Penguins a tempting choice—or the opportunity to impart senior knowledge to a young goalie could be more to Brodeur's liking.
"It’ll be fun for me just to see what the opportunities are," Brodeur said, via LeBrun. "But I’m open-minded, whether it’s a team with a good young goalie or being in a spot where I’ve got a chance to win a Stanley Cup again … just look forward to seeing what’s out there."
Brodeur could be left waiting for a few weeks, but his name and talent will ensure that he is picked up this offseason.
Oilers May Not Be Interested in David Legwand
According to TSN's Ryan Rishaug, American center David Legwand might not be looking to buy property north of the border anytime soon:
Legwand is a savvy, playmaking center who last played for the Detroit Red Wings after 14-plus seasons with the Nashville Predators. He proved that he is still a capable scoring threat when called upon, with 51 points in 83 games split between the Red Wings and Preds last season.
The Oilers still have roughly $11.8 million in cap space for 2014-15, and Legwand's last contract was a cap hit for $4.5 million. Edmonton also traded away center Sam Gagner at the beginning of the free-agency period.
The cap room is still there, so the Oilers might not think the 33-year-old is a good fit for their long-term plans and wish to spend the money elsewhere.
Then again, this move does fill a need for the Oilers, as Legwand would be a very capable second- or third-line center on a rebuilding team. If they ultimately decide against signing him, Legwand could be in for a long wait.
Are the Wild Taking a Look At Steve Ott?
Steve Ott is one of the top lefty forwards out on the market, and ESPN's Pierre LeBrun noted that several teams may still be interested in his services, including the Minnesota Wild:
Word is about four or five teams are in the mix for the 31-year-old, who finished the season in St. Louis. Ott didn’t re-sign with the Blues at first because he wanted more term than St. Louis was offering, but we’ll see in the end whether or not he circles back to them or not. Minnesota is another team that we think has some level of interest but may not have the cap room to do it.
Ott is a bit younger than Legwand at 31 years old, so he might be a little bit better off in the cooler free-agent market. He had a down year in 2013-14, scoring just 23 points with a disastrous minus-38 plus/minus rating in 82 games split between the Buffalo Sabres and St. Louis Blues.
He could hope to convince teams he's due for a comeback year, and his brash nature could be useful for teams looking for an energetic spark from the forward positions. His ability to play out on the wing would make him a good replacement for Dany Heatley, who is a free agent and may be departing from Minnesota.
All salary cap and contract information courtesy of CapGeek.com.