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The Most Overrated and Underrated NHL Free Agents Still Available

Allan MitchellFeatured ColumnistJuly 8, 2014

The Most Overrated and Underrated NHL Free Agents Still Available

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    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    NHL teams have picked over available free agents since July 1, but there's still some quality players available. The danger at this stage is overpaying famous players based on their past. The upside is acquiring underrated talent at bargain prices.

    Both player types are available to NHL teams; the trick is getting it right. Giving big dollars and a roster spot to the wrong veteran will have an enormous impact on a franchise.

    Here are the most overrated and underrated free agents still available to NHL teams.

Overrated: Chris Butler, D, Calgary Flames

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    USA TODAY Sports

    His Numbers: 82 GP, 2 G, 14 A with the Calgary Flames.

    His Story: Chris Butler is an NHL defenseman in his prime. He played 20 minutes a night in 2013-14 for the Calgary Flames and has good speed and a solid defensive reputation.

    His Future: Despite being a regular for the last two seasons, Butler's Flames have been at a distinct disadvantage with him on the ice. Since 2012, Calgary has been on the wrong end of the possession stats  consistently when playing Butler. His youth, health and experience will get him a contract, but there's no established level of ability that suggests he'll help his new team.

Underrated: Daniel Winnik, LW, Anaheim Ducks

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    Alex Gallardo/Associated Press

    His Numbers: 76 GP, 6 G, 24 A with the Anaheim Ducks.

    His Story: Daniel Winnik is not a famous NHL player, but he's an effective one. Winnik plays against tough opposition and gets more than his share of defensive-zone starts. It's the toughest job in the league, and despite a downturn in performance last season, he's a proven talent.

    His Future: Winnik has played almost 500 NHL games and is a quality role player. A contending team looking for a useful two-way winger would do well to grab him in free agency. He made $1.8 million a year ago and may come at a similar price this summer.

Overrated: Devin Setoguchi, RW, Winnipeg Jets

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    LM Otero/Associated Press

    His Numbers: 75 GP, 11 G, 16 A with the Winnipeg Jets.

    His Story: Devin Setoguchi is a famous scorer with previous NHL seasons of 31, 22 and 20 goals. His trade value has been going down in recent years, and he was traded in 2011 and 2013.

    His Future: NHL teams are desperate for goals, and Setoguchi is young enough to be an attractive free-agent option. The goal production has gone down four years in a row and is unlikely to recover.

Underrated: Dustin Penner, LW, Washington Capitals

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    His Numbers: 67 GP, 14 G, 21 A with the Anaheim Ducks and Washington Capitals.

    His Story: Dustin Penner is a big, offensive forward with good hands. He often gets on the wrong side of fans and management because he doesn't play a physical style but can deliver offensively.

    His Future: Penner is still a young man, and his possession numbers suggest he's an effective player. His big frame implies physicality, but Penner as a finesse winger has plenty of appeal. He'll likely come at a bargain price for what he'll deliver.

Overrated: Steve Ott, C, St. Louis Blues

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    ANDY CLAYTON-KING/Associated Press

    His Numbers: 82 GP, 9 G, 14 A with the Buffalo Sabres and St. Louis Blues.

    His Story: Steve Ott is a rugged forward who has spent his career as a skilled antagonist. He can play center or wing, kill penalties and has spent lots of time on all four lines over the years. His versatility makes him attractive.

    His Future: Ott's skills are eroding at a fairly rapid rate. He hasn't scored 30 points since 2011-12 and had just three assists after the Blues acquired him from Buffalo. He'll get another good contract because of his reputation, but Ott's career is on the downside.

Underrated: Brett Bellemore, D, Carolina Hurricanes

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    USA TODAY Sports

    His Numbers: 64 GP, 2 G, 6 A with the Carolina Hurricanes.

    His Story: Brett Bellemore is not well known, but he's an effective defender who should get a good free-agent contract this summer. In his first full NHL season, Bellemore delivered under difficult circumstances, including harsh zone starts and tough competition.

    His Future: The trick for NHL teams is to make sure he can repeat his performance from last season. If Bellemore can deliver quality defense season after season, as he did in 2013-14, he'll be a major free-agent bargain.

Overrated: Dany Heatley, LW, Minnesota Wild

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    USA TODAY Sports

    His Numbers: 76 GP, 12 G, 16 A with the Minnesota Wild.

    His Story: At one time Dany Heatley was the biggest young star on the NHL scene. His scoring prowess was amazing, and the future seemed bright. Years later, he is a 12-goal scorer for the Wild who couldn't wait to get away from his contract.

    His Future: Heatley has never been a complete player; the offense has always been his calling card. Without the goals, Heatley is not an effective NHL player. He'll get a contract based on reputation, in the hopes he can rediscover some magic in those marvelous hands. History suggests he won't deliver again.

Underrated: David Moss, RW, Arizona Coyotes

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    USA TODAY Sports

    His Numbers: 79 GP, 8 G, 14 A with the Arizona Coyotes.

    His Story: David Moss is an excellent two-way winger who has established himself as a quality possession player. Although his offense isn't a major part of his game, he is improving in that area each season.

    His Future: Moss is a versatile, effective checking forward. He is also at a point in his career where he would be an effective mentor for young players who need to improve their play without the puck. David Moss is worth a contract and will be a bargain.

Overrated: Martin Brodeur, G, New Jersey Devils

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    MelEevans/Associated Press

    His Numbers: 39 GP, 2.51 GAA, .901 SP with the New Jersey Devils.

    His Story: Martin Brodeur was the Devils starting goaltender from 1993 through 2013. In that 20-year span, he helped his team to the Stanley Cup three times while building an overwhelming Hall of Fame resume. New Jersey is moving on, but Brodeur would like to continue playing.

    His Future: The Devils had a superior option a year ago in Cory Schneider but split the work between the two goalies. A team acquiring Martin Brodeur will have to be very clear about his role and mindful of possible conflict if the veteran sits for an extended period. He'll be signed by an NHL team, but there's a very good chance it will be for too much money and he'll end up making too many appearances.

Underrated: Daniel Alfredsson, RW, Detroit Red Wings

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    USA TODAY Sports

    His Numbers: 68 GP, 18 G, 31 A with the Detroit Red Wings.

    His Story: Daniel Alfredsson is an outstanding player 18 years into his NHL career. He performed well offensively in all areas last season, including even strength, and has been doing this for a long time.

    His Future: Alfredsson turns 42 in December, and that's old for an NHL forward. He signed a one-year deal for $3.5 million last year, which was a bargain. Another one-year contract is likely, and there's every reason to believe Alfredsson will cover the bet.

     

    All information courtesy of Hockeydb.com, GapGeek.com and Extra Skater.

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