NHL Free Agency: Rumors and Predictions for Top Remaining Stars

Donald Wood@@Donald_WoodFeatured ColumnistJuly 23, 2014

Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Sheldon Brookbank (17) stretches prior to an NHL hockey game against the Minnesota Wild in St. Paul, Minn., Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)
Ann Heisenfelt/Associated Press

There have been many NHL free-agent signings already this offseason, but there are still several stars left on the open market who could help a team reach its championship potential.

With rumors swirling around players like Sheldon Brookbank and Devin Setoguchi and where they may land, hockey fans are waiting to see which teams take the educated risks on the potential game-changers still unsigned.

Here are the predicted landing spots for the top free agents and the latest rumors.


Top Remaining Free Agents and Predicted Landing Spots
RankPlayerPositionAgePredicted Landing Spot
1Dustin PennerLW31Philadelphia Flyers
2Devin SetoguchiRW27Pittsburgh Penguins
3Sheldon BrookbankD33Chicago Blackhawks
4Martin BrodeurG42Toronto Maple Leafs
5Ryan SmythLW38Retired
6Michael Del ZottoD24Carolina Hurricanes
7Ryan MaloneLW34Dallas Stars
8Michal HandzusC37Nashville Predators
9Daniel WinnikLW29Anaheim Ducks
10Ilya BryzgalovG34Winnipeg Jets
Source: NHL.com.

Sheldon Brookbank Coming Back to Chicago?

One of the best defensive defensemen yet to be signed is former Chicago Blackhawks star Sheldon Brookbank. As a member of the team’s Stanley Cup win in 2013, Brookbank proved he can be a valuable asset to any team when healthy.

Unfortunately for the 33-year-old veteran, he has never played a full season in the NHL.

In a report from Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune, Brookbank is exploring all of his options as an unrestricted free agent, but he has not closed the door on a return to Chicago:

The Blackhawks are stacked defensively. With a unit that already includes Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Brent Seabrook and Johnny Oduya, Brookbank would likely have to take a small pay cut to remain with Chicago.

Brookbank only made $1.25 million last season, per CapGeek.com. The Blackhawks are currently working to alleviate some salary-cap space, but if the team finds the wiggle room, re-signing Brookbank would be a smart move for depth and talent.

While the veteran defender won’t add much offensively (just seven points in 48 games), Brookbank is one of the best shutdown defensemen in the league and can be a menace to the opposition’s top players.


Devin Setoguchi Not Signing With Toronto?

One of the youngest players left on the board is former San Jose Sharks and Winnipeg Jets forward Devin Setoguchi. At only 27 years old, he has the most upside of any remaining player.

While many Toronto Maple Leafs fans would love to add a power forward like Setoguchi, the current outlook for that deal coming to fruition is bleak.

According to Andrew Walker of Sportsnet 590, Setoguchi has narrowed down his choices, but Toronto isn’t among the options:

There is no questioning the talent Setoguchi possesses after he racked up 31 goals in 2008-09, but he has failed to live up to those expectations since. With only 27 points in 75 games last year, Setoguchi needs to hit the reset button in a new city.

As a player who thrived with talent around him, the best possible option would be the Pittsburgh Penguins. Not only is Pittsburgh looking for depth at forward, but the franchise is also looking for a scoring presence who can benefit from playing alongside Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin.

Setoguchi will likely have to take a pay cut with his new contract (he made $3 million last season), but he could find his offensive rhythm with a new team and make more money with his next free-agent deal.

At 27 years old, the future is bright for Setoguchi.


*Stats via NHL.com.


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