A lot of trades and acquisitions happen during the off-season and a lot of big name free agents get signed to big, lucrative deals. But sometimes, there are those signings that no one really notices that make or break a teams chances to make the playoffs.
They are signings that when you look back on a year or two from now will be considered absolute steals and the GM's will be considered geniuses.
Here are some low key free agent signings that could pay dividends of each of there teams respectively.
Greg Zanon—Signed by the Minnesota Wild
Last Years Stats: GP 82, G 4, A 7, Pts 11, PIM 38, Plus/Minus 8
What the stat sheet doesn't show is the amount of blocked shots Zanon will get for you. He is a very good penalty killer and is always willing to get in front of the puck. Plus he had an under-rated shot that was not utilized in Nashville with all the fire power they had.
But with there being an extra defensive spot on the second power play being available, here is his opportunity to show how valuable of a player he can be.
Vernon Fiddler—Signed by the Phoenix Coyotes
Last Years Stats: GP 78, G 11, A 6, Pts 17, PIM 24, Plus/Minus -13
Even though he had a rough season last season, Vernon Fiddler is a very good defensive forward that can help any penalty kill while also being a great face off man. That face off ability helped him get 32 points in 2007-08 and he showed a little bit of unexpected offensive flair.
On a team that has a very mediocre power play, look for Gretzky to utilize his face off ability by giving him some power play time to see if it will give it a boost.
Clay Wilson—Signed by the Florida Panthers
Last Years Stats: (AHL) GP 71, G 14, A 33, Pts 47, PIM 35, Plus/Minus 13
Unknown to me as to why nobody has played him, Clay Wilson is a good two-way defenseman that knows how to not only quarterback a power play, but also help on the penalty kill as well.
He has very few blemishes in his game and could be a great partner to go with the big shot of Bryan McCabe, seeing as Jay Bouwmeester left a spot on defense.
Matt Moulson—Signed by the New York Islanders
Last Years Stats: (AHL) GP 57, G 28, A 28, Pts 56, PIM 29, Plus/Minus 5
In the AHL, Matt Moulson is a point-a-game player that has a great shot and is stellar on the power play. He has the potential to be a solid second or third liner in the NHL and all he needs is an opportunity.
Los Angeles couldn't give it to him because of all the young talent that is already there. So he will have his opportunity to show what he's got for the Islanders because with the exception of Tavares, Okposo and Bailey, the forward positions are wide open for this team.
Jeremy Williams—Signed by the Detroit Red Wings
Last Years Stats: GP 11, G 5, A 2, Pts 7, PIM 2, Plus/Minus 2
Being a Leafs fan, I watched Williams play a lot over the years sparingly and every time I saw him play he impressed me. The one thing I never understood is how he didn't impress the Leafs brass enough to give him a full time shot.
He scored in his first three games in the NHL in three separate seasons, the only player to do so. He has a really quick shot and is able to catch goalies off guard. If a spot can open up on a very deep Detroit team, look for Williams to make the most of his opportunity and make an impact on a good team.
Kurtis Foster—Signed by the Tampa Bay Lightning
Last Years Stats: GP 10, G 1, A 5, Pts 6, PIM 6, Plus/Minus 7
One of the better stories from last season, Foster came back to the NHL after breaking his leg going for an iced puck. He was told he may never be able to play hockey again but came back and played admirably late in the season for the Minnesota Wild.
He has a booming shot from the point and can help out any power play in need of a boost, which fits Tampa's power play to a T.
Jay McKee—Signed by the Pittsburgh Penguins
Last Years Stats: GP 69, G 1, A 7, Pts 8, PIM 44, Plus/Minus 11
Once considered to be one of the top defensive defensemen in the league, a series of injuries and a big contract to live up to sidetracked his career in St. Louis. Now he was lucky to be signed by the Stanley Cup Champions in the Pittsburgh Penguins to try to turn it around.
With both Rob Scuderi and Hal Gill leaving in free agency, Jay McKee will be given every opportunity to play as many minutes as he wants on the penalty kill and in even strength.
Anthony Stewart—Signed by the Atlanta Thrashers
Last Years Stats: GP 59, G 2, A 5, Pts 7, PIM 34, Plus/Minus -6
Anthony Stewart will never live up to the potential that the Panthers saw in him when they drafted him in the first round of the 2003 draft. But that doesn't mean that Stewart can't become a good player.
He has the tools to become a solid bottom six guy that can use his size to disrupt the smaller players. As of right now, the Thrashers got rid of a lot of size and grit with the trading of Exelby and Stuart, so here is Stewart's chance to find his niche and finally stick with a NHL club.
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