NHL Free Agents 2014: Highlighting Best Players Who Have Yet to Find New Homes

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJuly 16, 2014

NEWARK, NJ - APRIL 11: Martin Brodeur #30 of the New Jersey Devils looks on against the New York Islanders during the game at the Prudential Center on April 11, 2014 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
Andy Marlin/Getty Images

Unlike the NBA offseason, almost all of the meaningful business has been completed in the NHL offseason. The top free agents have already hitched their wagons to their new teams.

Those players still left are certainly in a buyer's market. They have almost little to no leverage left and will more than likely end up taking deals that pay less than what they're truly worth. While that's good news for teams hoping to add one more piece, it's tough for everybody still unemployed.

The four players below are among the best and/or most high-profile veterans still available. None of them are game-changers, but they'd be able to fill a certain kind of void.


Michael Del Zotto

NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 8: Michael Del Zotto #5 of the Nashville Predators shoots the puck against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Bridgestone Arena on March 8, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
John Russell/Getty Images

Michael Del Zotto wasn't the most attractive free agent available this year, but you'd think that somebody would've snapped him up by now. He is, after all, 24 years old. Del Zotto still has plenty of time to iron out some of his issues.

The former New York Ranger and Nashville Predator has registered 27 goals and 99 assists over his five-year career, so he offers a little bit going forward.

Del Zotto does have issues defending, which is, you know, kind of a big deal for a defenseman, so that's likely scared off some teams.

If anything, the longer Del Zotto goes unsigned, the smaller his price tag will be, leaving his new team with a shrewd deal in the making.


Dustin Penner

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 6: Dustin Penner #17 of the Washington Capitals skates against the Boston Bruins at the TD Garden on March 6, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
Brian Babineau/Getty Images

Dustin Penner scoring 32 goals in a season feels like a lifetime ago. For five straight seasons, he registered at least 20 goals. What happened to that guy?

Yeah, Penner's gotten older, but after netting 23 for the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings in 2010-11, his yearly totals have been seven, two and 14 in the three years since. That's a steep drop.

Perhaps it's unrealistic to expect the 31-year-old to get anywhere close to his prime again, but he's a solid veteran who can carve out a niche on the right team. And not for the "Free Agent All-Stars," per Sean Hartnett of WFAN in New York:

At least Penner has been able to find the humor through it all:


Lee Stempniak

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 4:  Lee Stempniak #22 of the Pittsburgh Penguins moves the puck against the New York Rangers in Game Two of the Second Round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on May 4, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

A little less than a week ago, Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com reported that Lee Stempniak wasn't on the Boston Bruins' radar:

Fox Sports Midwest's Andy Strickland didn't have any better news:

Teams need guys who can fill out the roster, provide depth and spell the more important attackers. That's where Stempniak comes in. Somebody's gotta realize sooner or later that he provides plenty of value coming off the bench.

The nice thing about a player like Stempniak is that you know exactly what you're getting. He's not going to beat opposing defenders with blinding speed, but he'll put in a solid shift on the third line.


Martin Brodeur

NEWARK, NJ - APRIL 11: Martin Brodeur #30 of the New Jersey Devils takes a break during the third period against the New York Islanders at the Prudential Center on April 11, 2014 in Newark, New Jersey.  The Islanders defeated the Devils 3-2 in the shootou
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Teams still looking for a goaltender are really beginning to run out of options. Apparently, Martin Brodeur isn't afraid to wait until somebody gets really desperate.

"Marty has a lot to offer, but it will be the right fit and this may come later this summer or even early in the season," Brodeur's agent Pat Brisson said, per NorthJersey.com. "He is in no rush until the right fit appears. In the meantime, he is getting ready the same way he has the past 20 seasons."

You have to applaud the veteran's determination. Some might think it's time for the 42-year-old to retire, but he's more than willing to hold out as long as it takes. With as much as he's done in his career, Brodeur shouldn't be playing simply to prolong his career. Wherever he ends up should be for a purposeful role.


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