NHL Free Agents 2014: Latest Rumors and Predictions for Top Remaining Targets

Donald Wood@@Donald_WoodFeatured ColumnistJuly 6, 2014

NEWARK, NJ - APRIL 13: Winning goaltender Martin Brodeur #30 of the New Jersey Devils looks on during the third period of the game against the Boston Bruins at the Prudential Center on April 13, 2014 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
Andy Marlin/Getty Images

After a rousing start to the 2014 NHL free-agency period, hockey fans have turned their attention to the top stars left on the open market, the rumors surrounding them and their predicted landing spots.

With potential game changers like Martin Brodeur and Michael Del Zotto still available, the possible signings could alter the landscape of the NHL next season if the right organizations make the moves.

Here are the top remaining free agents and the hottest rumors.

Top 2014 NHL Free Agents
RankPlayerPositionPredicted Landing Spot
1Daniel AlfredssonRWRetirement
2Michael Del ZottoDCarolina Hurricanes
3Steve OttCBuffalo Sabres
4Dustin PennerLWPhiladelphia Flyers
5Martin BrodeurGToronto Maple Leafs
6Lee StempniakRWPittsburgh Penguins
7Dany HeatleyLWNew York Rangers
8David BoothLWBuffalo Sabres
9Brenden MorrowLWDallas Stars
10Devin SetoguchiRWWinnipeg Jets
Predictions and rankings via Donald Wood.


Martin Brodeur in No Rush to Sign?

There are several veteran goaltenders left on the open market, but few are as intriguing as the longtime New Jersey Devils star Brodeur. For the first time in 21 seasons, NHL fans could see the first-ballot Hall of Famer in a new uniform.

At 42 years old, there are many experts who doubt if Brodeur still has the ability to be a viable starter in the league. The numbers back that up: He racked up a less-than-impressive 2.51 goals-against average and a .901 save percentage.

As a backup, though, Brodeur could help bolster the depth chart of a championship contender.

According to Pierre LeBrun of ESPN, Brodeur has talked to teams but will be patient while weighing out his options:

In a separate report from Joe McDonald of ESPN, the Boston Bruins are not one of the teams interested in signing Brodeur:

Brodeur may want to be a starter in the NHL, but he may not have the opportunity. If he wants to continue playing at the highest level, his best option would be to join a serious Stanley Cup contender as a backup and try to fight for another championship.

Teams like Pittsburgh, Toronto and Chicago would love the experience and the knowledge of Brodeur on the bench in case of injury or inconsistent play from the starters. Being a backup may not be ideal, but it could help him protect his legacy.


Michael Del Zotto Garnering Serious Interest?

The New York Rangers thought the franchise had a great future with Del Zotto patrolling the blue line, but the organization decided his performances were not good enough to offer him a new deal.

New York traded Del Zotto to Nashville last season, and the Predators decided to part ways with the defender instead of trying to re-sign him. That could be an indication of deeper issues with the player.

Regardless of his results with the Rangers and Nashville, there are still several teams interested in the defender, according to David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period:

For a player who racked up 41 points in a season (2011-12), the 16 points he registered during the 2013-14 campaign was flat-out unacceptable. Add in the occasional mental lapses, which turn into defensive liabilities, and there is definitely a risk associated with Del Zotto.

On the other hand, he is only 24 years old and has serious upside. With the right team and leadership needed to get the most out of the young player, Del Zotto still has the potential to blossom into a top defender.


Stats via NHL.com.