A month has almost passed since free agent frenzy occurred way back on July 1. Money and players were flying off the charts at a gleaming rate as many teams had to hit the cap floor.
No one from the Best of the Rest has been signed yet.
But another player of interest who also hasn’t found a home yet is two-time Stanley Cup winner Cory Stillman.
Stillman has played in 1025 career games, scored 278 goals, tallied 449 assists and registered 727 points.
In the playoffs he has played in 82 games, scoring 19 goals and 51 points while winning Stanley Cups with Tampa Bay and Carolina in consecutive years.
He is a proven 20-goal scorer and a valuable leader and asset in the locker room.
So why hasn’t he signed yet? A contending team would love to have him on its roster for what he can potentially bring both on and off the ice.
So, what gives?
Well for starters, Stillman is 37 years old. At this age, most players are in the twilight of their careers and have lost a step.
Also, any contract over a year is guaranteed (when a player is 35 and older) and will count against the salary cap even if the team releases the player or he retires.
Stillman hasn’t played more than 80 games in a season since 2003-04 (81). In seven years since then he has played in 72, 43, 79, 63, 58 and 65 games respectively while playing for three different teams (Carolina twice, Ottawa and Florida).
Injuries are a red flag and the major issue when general managers are looking to offer a deal to Stillman. The gamble may be too high to pay a player who is highly injury prone.
Stillman’s production has dipped as well.
Between the seasons of 1995-96 and 2005-06 Stillman averaged 21 goals and 51 points a season. Since then, he has averaged 15 goals and 43 points.
Between 2000-01 and 2005-06, Stillman played in 76 playoff games. Since then he has played in a grand total of four.
However when he does play more then 60 games, his track record shows he is good enough for 23 goals and 58 points. The question is, can he still suit up for 60 or more games?
Stillman’s heart, desire and competitive drive may still be there, but his body and age are starting to catch up to him. His reliability as a second line winger is diminishing.
Will he accept a pay cut? He had a $3.533 million cap hit the last three seasons.
Can he play a more defensive minded game on the third line and occasionally chip in offensively?
Will he accept a fourth line and mentor role as he educates the younger players on a team while sacrificing his playing time and spotlight?
These are the things GMs have to look at and the questions Stillman has to ask himself if he wants to continue to play the game he loves.
He could also return to the Hurricanes, where he spent three and a bit seasons. Management, along with the team, already know him and appreciate him.