Ranking the Best Players Still Available in NHL Free Agency

Lyle RichardsonFeatured ColumnistJuly 3, 2017

Ranking the Best Players Still Available in NHL Free Agency

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    The frenzy of the opening days of NHL free agency has passed and many of the top talents are signed. Still, several noteworthy playerssuch as right wing Jaromir Jagrare seeking new teams to join.

    Many on this list, such as Jagr, Shane Doan and Jarome Iginla, are now well past their prime. Others, such as left wing Thomas Vanek, remain reasonably productive players. 

    Here's a look at the best unrestricted free agents still available by position. Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section below.

Goaltender

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    Jhonas Enroth

    The 29-year-old Enroth is the only remaining unrestricted free agent goalie who saw NHL action last season. Though he's played 153 career games, he appeared in just four last season with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

    Traded to the Anaheim Ducks on Jan. 11, he finished the season in the minors. With a career 2.84 goals against average and .908 save percentage, he could be a decent and affordable backup.

Defensemen

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    5. Roman Polak

    The 6'2", 235-pound Polak is a rugged stay-at-home defenseman. He was among the Leafs leaders in hits (232) and blocked shots (133) last season. Those traits could prove valuable for teams seeking an experienced shutdown presence.

            

    4. Francois Beauchemin

    A physical all-around blueliner, the 37-year-old Beauchemin averaged 21 minutes and 30 seconds per game last season with the Colorado Avalanche. He also led them in blocked shots (156). Though he's slowing down, his experience and leadership could help him land with a new club this summer. 

             

    3. Cody Franson

    Franson had a decent performance on a bad Buffalo Sabres team last season, with 19 points in 68 games. Though inconsistent, he moves the puck well and has experience as a second-pairing rearguard. He's the youngest on this list, turning 30 on Aug. 8.

            

    2. Brian Campbell

    Campbell, 38, is a mobile defenseman with good offensive skills and leadership ability. He netted only 17 points in 80 games last season with the Chicago Blackhawks but enjoyed a 31-point campaign in 2015-16 with the Florida Panthers.

           

    1. Andrei Markov

    The 38-year-old Markov is a skilled puck-moving defenseman. He tallied 36 points in 62 games and averaged 21:50 in time on ice per game last season. Despite his age, he would be a worthwhile short-term addition to any defense corps.

Centers

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    4. Brandon Pirri

    An adaptable forward, the 26-year-old Pirri can skate at center and on the wing, and he tallied 22 goals in 2014-15. However, he's an inconsistent scorer and managed only 18 points in 60 games last season with the New York Rangers.  

              

    3. David Desharnais

    The 5'7", 176-pound Desharnais is a swift playmaking center. The 30-year-old has three 40-plus point seasons on his resume. However, his production has steadily declined since his career-high 60-point effort in 2011-12.

              

    2. Matt Cullen

    After 19 NHL seasons, Cullen remains a solid all-around checking center. The 40-year-old excels on the penalty kill and is strong in the faceoff circle.  He helped the Pittsburgh Penguins win consecutive Stanley Cup titles in 2016 and 2017. 

             

    1. Mike Fisher

    Fisher is a skilled two-way center, who has been hampered by injuries in recent years. The 37-year-old netted a respectable 42 points in 72 games last season with the Nashville Predators. Married to country music star Carrie Underwood, his preference will be to stay in Nashville.

Right Wings

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    4. Drew Stafford

    Stafford possesses good size (6'2", 214 lbs) and decent offensive skills. The 31-year-old can also skate at either wing. Though he's a streaky scorer, he's tallied 20-plus goals and 40 or more points four times in his 11 NHL seasons.

            

    3. Shane Doan

    After 21 seasons, the long-time Arizona Coyotes right wing is moving on from the only NHL team he's played for. Doan is a durable, physical forward with 972 career points. The 40-year-old managed only 27 points last season but reached 28 goals and 47 points in 2015-16.

               

    2. Jarome Iginla

    In 20 NHL seasons, Iginla scored 625 goals and 1,300 points. However, age caught up with the 40-year-old power forward last season. He scored 14 goals and 27 points in 80 games split between the Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings. 

              

    1. Jaromir Jagr

    Over Jagr's 23-year career, he's tallied 765 goals and 1,914 points. His best years are now well behind him. Still, the 45-year-old netted a respectable 46 points in 82 games with the Florida Panthers last season. 

Left Wings

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    4. Daniel Winnik

    The 6'2", 206-pound Winnik, 32, has good size and can play all three forward positions. He's a hardworking defensive forward and a penalty-killing specialist. 

               

    3. Jussi Jokinen

    Jokinen is a skilled all-around forward who can skate on either wing. Though he managed only 28 points last season with the Florida Panthers, the 34-year-old is a year removed from a 60-point performance in 2015-16.

              

    2. Jiri Hudler

    Injuries limited the 33-year-old Hudler to 11 points in 32 games with the Dallas Stars. When healthy, he has exceeded 40 points six times in his NHL career. Though listed as a right wing, he can skate on either side of center.

                 

    1. Thomas Vanek

    The 33-year-old Vanek netted 48 points in 68 games last season split between the Detroit Red Wings and Florida Panthers. A natural (if streaky) scorer, he's tallied 40-plus points in each of his 12 NHL seasons.

             

    Player info via NHL.com.