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
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 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:
Wikipedia says Dustin Penner is currently playing left Wing for the "Free Agent All-Stars" of the National Hockey League (NHL). Um. Okay.— Sean Hartnett (@HartnettHockey) July 12, 2014
At least Penner has been able to find the humor through it all:
My take on free agency so far: http://t.co/EbnARytZxM— Dustin Penner (@Dustinpenner25) July 2, 2014
A little less than a week ago, Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com reported that Lee Stempniak wasn't on the Boston Bruins' radar:
Didn't get the sense from the Bruins source I spoke with that a Lee Stempniak signing was going to happen either #BruinsTalk— Joe Haggerty (@HackswithHaggs) July 10, 2014
Fox Sports Midwest's Andy Strickland didn't have any better news:
Lee Stempniak continues to talk to a couple of teams...tough to say how close he is to signing a contract. Nothing appears imminent #NHL— Andy Strickland (@andystrickland) July 15, 2014
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.
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.