Mats Sundin is one of the many players that are still looking for a place to play next season. But what teams could use the 38-year-old Swede?
The Toronto Maple Leafs' all-time leading goal and point scorer ended his 13-year career with the Leafs when he signed a one-year deal with the Vancouver Canucks last year.
However, he signed midseason and only played the latter half of the 2008-09 season.
Despite being a consistent point-producer during his time with the Leafs (he had at least 70 or more points in 12 of his 13 seasons and led in points in every season but one), he was unable to find that same touch with the Canucks.
In 41 games, he scored only nine goals and finished with 28 points. His plus/minus was also a minus-five.
Even though he was less than successful in Vancouver, I think that if Sundin were to find the right team, he could have at least one more good season before he retires.
The following are some teams that can afford him (if he were to be paid $5 million like last year, although it is clear he deserves far less after his performance this past season) and that could use some veteran leadership and some added offense.
The fact that the Buffalo Sabres were in the upper half of the league for goals scored (12th in the league) and missed the playoffs by only a few points is why I think the addition of Sundin could improve their team enough to make the playoffs.
The Sabres have a number of notable scorers, such as Derek Roy (leading scorer), Jason Pominville, and Thomas Vanek (who notched 40 goals this past season).
I think if Sundin could find his old form again, he could contribute at least 50 points, which could be just enough to take the Sabres into the playoffs.
Considering they were the worst team in the NHL last season, it is unlikely the Islanders will be making the playoffs in the 2009-10 season.
So what use could Sundin have to them?
Well, with superstar John Tavares on the way, it looks like New York has a top-line center for the future. If they were to sign Sundin, he could be a mentor to Tavares and other young players on the Islanders, such as Josh Bailey and Kyle Okposo.
Sundin could again add offense to this team, which finished second to last in league scoring. Even if he were around for just one year, he could make it a bit less frustrating and difficult season for the Islanders' players and fans.
Although it may not make sense to add a player that is near retirement to a team that is in the process of rebuilding, I believe Sundin joining New York would do more good than bad.
As I mentioned in the past slide, the Islanders finished second to last in league scoring this past season. But which team finished dead last?
You guessed it.
The Colorado Avalanche scored fewer goals than any other team in the NHL, and with Ryan Smyth being traded to L.A., it could be even more of a challenge for the Avalanche to put pucks in the net.
Also, with Joe Sakic being injured most of last season, the Avalanche lacked leadership and point production. With his retirement, it won't get much better.
With Sundin added to the mix, he could provide this leadership and scoring (although I understand he is no Sakic in either category).
Much like the Islanders, the Avalanche are currently rebuilding, and signing Sundin could be seen as doing the opposite of what they want, but I still think it would be beneficial to the team.
Even though the Nashville Predators finished 24th in the league for goals scored, they only missed the playoffs by a few points.
The Predators only had one player who scored more than 25 goals this season (Jason Arnott—33) and just one player who had more than 60 points (J.P. Dumont—65).
Like the Sabres, Sundin could be the player that gains them that extra offense and puts them into the playoffs.
Of all the teams in the NHL, I think that the Columbus Blue Jackets could use Mats Sundin the most.
Why is that?
Well, they need a top-line center. I may sound crazy to still be giving such a title to Sundin after his stint with the Canucks, but I truly believe a fresh start could bring him to his old form (or close to it) for one more year.
Other centers on the team include Antoine Vermette, R.J. Umberger, Manny Malhotra, and Derrick Brassard (only played 31 games due to a dislocated shoulder). The highest scorer of these players was Umberger, who scored 26 goals and finished with 46 points in 82 games.
If Sundin were to become a Blue Jacket and join left winger Rick Nash (who scored 40 goals this past season) on a line, the results could be spectacular.
Sundin's playmaking skills combined with Nash's natural goal-scoring ability could make for enough offense to not only make it into the playoffs, but also to actually win the franchise's first playoff series (or playoff game, for that matter).