NHL Free Agency: Predicting Where Each of the Top Remaining Free Agents Will Go
It's been almost a week since NHL free agency opened and many of the big names have been scooped up. Brad Richards has gone to the New York Rangers. Tomas Vokoun to Washington. Simon Gagne to Los Angeles. Does that mean there are no more valuable free agents out there? Far from it.
There are plenty of players still out there that can help a team win. They are mostly role players but every team needs them. Also, with the new cap floor, there stands a good chance that these players are going to get a lot more money than they are actually worth.
Everyone focuses on the deals that happen on or slightly after July 1, but it's the deals that happen later in July or even August that could truly lead a team into contention.
Position: Right Wing
2010-11 Stats: 73 games played, 31 goals, 49 assists, 80 points
Credentials: Stanley Cup winner (2007), 10 All-Star game appearances, Calder Trophy winner (1993), Rocket Richard Trophy winner (1999), Bill Masterton Award winner (2006), 2-time First All-Star team(1993,1997), 2-time Second All-Star team (1998,1999)
The ageless wonder of the NHL, Teemu Selanne just won't stop. Alhough, recently having surgery on his knee, Selanne might finally be on his last legs. If the leg doesn't return to the quality that Selanne need, then he might retire.
However, I expect Selanne to be back next season. With who? Well, he more than likely will return to Anaheim, but there is an outside shot that Winnipeg throws some money at him to finish off his career where it began. I don't see that happening though.
Signs in: Anaheim
2010-11 Stats: 67 games played, 7 goals, 21 assists, 28 points
Credentials: Second All-Star team (2004)
With Tomas Kaberle now signed in Carolina, Bryan McCabe is quite possibly the best defenseman left on the market. While well past his prime, McCabe can still help whatever team he ends up with.
After a few years meddling in Florida, a place where he actually liked to play, he was traded to the New York Rangers where he had 6 points in 19 games. With New York signing Brad Richards and Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Calllahan, Brian Boyle and others headed to arbitration, McCabe might be on his way out.
With the loss of Brent Burns, the Minnesota Wild will need to replace some his scoring and leadership on the blue line. If McCabe doesn't have the option to stay in New York, then I believe that Minnesota is the best option available to him.
Signs in: Minnesota
2010-11 Stats: 24 games played, 1 goal, 4 assists, 5 points
Credentials: Stanley Cup winner (2001), Calder Trophy winner (1999)
The biggest question-mark of free agency, its pretty much a sure thing that Chris Drury will most of, if not all of the entire 2011-12 season. That will scare off most of teams but there will more than likely will be a few teams that send an offer his way in hoping that he can come back and help them in a playoff push.
Drury will probably go to a team that is around the cap floor and has a need for a center. Winnipeg is in need of a center and has the money to take a risk on Drury.
Signs in: Winnipeg
2010-11 Stats: 7 wins, 2 losses, 2.28 GAA
Ray Emery battled back to the NHL after a hip injury that kept him out most of the season. Signing in Anaheim for the rest of the season, not much was expected out of Emery, but when Jonas Hiller went down with vertigo, he was called into action.
Emery responded by leading the Ducks to fourth in the Western Conference. While the Ducks were eliminated in six games by the Nashville Predators, the fact that Emery was able to come back and lead a team into the playoffs shows that he can at least be a capable backup goalie who can step in as a starter when need be.
With the Phoenix Coyotes losing Ilya Bryzgalov, they should sign Emery and he could very well win the No. 1 job.
Signs in: Phoenix
2010-11 Stats: 8 wins, 12 losses, 3.33 GAA
A career backup goaltender, Ty Conklin is on his way out of St. Louis after they essentially decided to go with Ben Bishop as their backup. Conklin has bounced around the NHL, playing for six teams in his career.
Recent rumors have Conklin making a return trip to Detroit where he played during the 2008-09 season and had his most successful season posting 25 wins in 40 games.
Signs in: Detroit
2010-11 Stats: 11 wins, 14 losses, 3.02 GAA
Credentials: Second All-Star team (2003)
Oh how the mighty have fallen. Marty Turco has gone from being the starting goaltender for the Dallas Stars to being a backup for the Chicago Blackhawks. After losing his starting job to Corey Crawford, Turco will be looking for a new home where he can restart his career.
Phoenix could be in the running for him, but I believe Columbus is also in the running to give Steve Mason a quality backup.
Signs in: Columbus
Position: Left Wing
2010-11 Stats: 76 games played, 12 goals, 13 assists, 25 points
Credentials: 3-time Stanley Cup champion (2000, 2003, 2010), Frank J. Selke Trophy winner (2001)
I'm surprised that John Madden has not signed with a team as of yet. As a three-time Stanley Cup champion, Madden could bring valuable playoff experience to a team that is on the brink of making the playoffs or wants to make a legitimate run at the Stanley Cup.
With Los Angeles trading Ryan Smyth to Edmonton, they have lost a veteran to lead their young stars. Bringing in a player like Madden would be a significant boost to a team that hasn't been able to make it far into the playoffs.
Signs in: Los Angeles
Position: Right Wing
2010-11 Stats: 56 games played, 16 goals, 6 assists, 22 points
While there are doubts that Nikolay Zherdev will ever reach his full potential, some team should take a chance on him. He is still a young player that can give a team valuable secondary scoring. Although, the threat of him going back to Russia will always be there and that might scare off a few teams.
The New York Islanders have the money to take a risk on Zherdev and will definitely help the Islanders offense.
Signs in: New York Islanders, if not Russia
Position: Left Wing
2010-11 Stats: 65 games played, 12 goals, 27 assists, 39 points
Credentials: 2-time Stanley Cup winner (2004, 2006)
Definitely nearing the end of his career, Cory Stillman could end up retiring if a team doesn't make an offer soon. After splitting time with Florida and Carolina last season, Stillman has been a dependable 30-point player for the past decade and hasn't really slowed down. I'd expect him to play one more year before retiriing.
Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun suggested five players that could be of interest to the Winnipeg Jets and Stillman was one of them. After some thought, I think that Winnipeg might be the best option for him as he can mentor the Jets' young forwards.
Signs in: Winnipeg
2010-11 Stats: 66 games played, 9 goals, 34 assists, 43 points
Brendan Morrison has been an unrestricted free agent for four consecutive years. After years of playing for the Vancouver Canucks, Morrison has bounced around Anaheim, Dallas, and Washington before finally ending up in Calgary last season. He has put up 40 points or more the past two season, yet he can't find a stable home.
Since Calgary lost out on the Brad Richards sweepstakes, I would expect Calgary to resign him because of the chemistry that existed between him, Alex Tanguay, and Jerome Iginla.
Signs in: Calgary
2010-11 Stats: 78 games played, 1 goal, 10 assists, 11 points
While he is no longer a point producer, Scott Hannan can be a valuable depth defenseman for any team that is willing to take a shot on him.
If Hannan is willing to take a paycut, and he will probably have to, I could see him going to Calgary as they are searching for a cheaper replacement for Robyn Regehr.
Signs in: Calgary
Position: Right Wing
2010-11 Stats: 74 games played, 16 goals, 18 assists, 34 points
Credentials: Stanley Cup winner (1994), Second All-Star team (2008)
After being shown the door in Pittsburgh after a short stint, Alexei Kovalev's future in the NHL is in doubt. While he has been a consistent point producer in the NHL, there doesn't seem to be a lineup of teams asking for his services.
The only team I see Kovalev going to is the Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens only have 11 forwards signed according to capgeek.com and Kovalev could be a second or third-liner who could hopefully regain his form that he had in Montreal previously.
Signs in: Montreall
2010-11 Stats: 51 games played, 1 goal, 7 assists, 8 points
Credentials: Stanley Cup winner (2010)
A former top-10 draft choice, Nick Boynton has been relegated to being a depth defenseman for the past few years. In the past two seasons, Boynton has moved to a new team that was on it's way to a playoff run. The first year it worked out pretty well for him, as he was traded from Anaheim to Chicago and won a Stanley Cup with them. Last season, he was picked up on waivers by Philadelphia and that didn't work out as good.
He will most likely find a home somewhere, but probably not until very close to training camp. If not, he will receive a training camp invite. Ottawa is a team that could use some depth on defense and Boynton can mentor their young defenseman.
Signs in: Ottawa
2010-11 Stats: 4 wins, 8 losses, 2.83 GAA
Pascal Leclaire has fallen quite far from being the eighth overall pick in the 2001 NHL Draft. In his seven NHL seasons, he has only played 173 games out of a possible 574. He has never played more than 54 games in a single season, and his highest total of wins is 24, accomplished in 2007-08.
With all his injury troubles, it is hard to imagine that any NHL team will take a chance on him. He will most likely be forced to go to Europe and prove that he can stay healthy for a season or two before any NHL team will even take a look at him.
Signs in: Europe