NHL Free Agents 2014: Rumors and Predictions for Top Available Players

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NHL Free Agents 2014: Rumors and Predictions for Top Available Players
USA TODAY Sports

The initial surge of signings is over, but talented 2014 NHL free agents still remain.

Teams that entered the offseason with a hole that has not been filled thus far shouldn't be discouraged yet. Here are the top unsigned talents who could fill those holes.

 

RW Lee Stempniak, Pittsburgh Penguins

Stempniak likely wasn't many teams' Plan A this summer, but he's a quality role player who could benefit several squads. And according to David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period, he's still talking to several squads.

Stempniak finished the regular season with 34 points. He made an impact for the Penguins after being traded by the Calgary Flames, tying for fifth on the team in goals scored in the playoffs. Jamal Mayers of the NHL Network believes Stempniak would help fill the void on the Boston Bruins left by right wing Jarome Iginla, who left to sign with the Colorado Avalanche. 

Iginla recorded 61 points this past season. Stempniak won't be able to match those numbers, but the Bruins could do worse at the position.

Prediction: Boston Bruins

 

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C/LW Steve Ott, St. Louis Blues

Ott isn't an offensive wizard. He only scored 23 points last season for the Blues and Buffalo Sabres. But Ott is physical.

He racked up 92 penalty minutes, which is a tame year for him. Ott did serve 14 in the postseason, which is the one stat he led St. Louis in. Michael Russo of the Star Tribune believes Ott's physicality would greatly benefit the Minnesota Wild, which Pierre LeBrun of ESPN reported is interested in Ott.

The Wild does lack toughness in my opinion (especially defensively), and when I say toughness, I’m not necessarily talking fighting. I just mean physicality, clearing bodies from the net … and some scare factor. There are times Mikael Granlund and Jared Spurgeon have been targeted. Heck, Nik Backstrom’s health really began to derail last season after Nazem Kadri ran him AFTER running Granlund in the same game.

A return to the Sabres made sense, but then they signed Brian Gionta, Cody McCormick, Andrej Meszaros and Matt Moulson. Other than signing Thomas Vanek, the Wild haven't gone crazy acquiring top free agents. Ott would likely embrace playing on a Minnesota team that finished seventh in the league in goals against this past season.

Prediction: Minnesota Wild

 

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C Peter Mueller, Kloten Flyers

The Florida Panthers could've used Mueller last season. He tied for their fifth-leading goal scorer a season ago but spent this past one in Switzerland's NLA. He finished the year with 46 points and could provide an upgrade to interested teams' offenses.

Philadelphia Daily News writer Frank Seravalli believes the Flyers are in the mix, while a team like the Ottawa Senators could be interested in Mueller to add depth to their forward corps.

According to CapGeek.com, while the Flyers have the least amount of salary-cap space in the NHL, the Senators have the fourth most. As a result, despite Philadelphia's better record, Ottawa has the edge to sign Mueller.

Prediction: Ottawa Senators

 

David Daniels is a columnist at Bleacher Report. He tweets, too.

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