NHL Free Agent News: Brad Marchand and the 11 Grittiest Players Still Available
The regular definition of "gritty" would be something like, "showing resolution and fortitude."
This definition might as well be the definition of a hockey player in general.
Responses included: "[Someone who] never stops battling; puts himself in harm's way even when he’s in pain; wins puck battles; does whatever it takes to win; has high intensity; is tough, either physically or mentally."
Obviously, there are varying definitions of grittiness, but the one thing that can be agreed upon is that teams need gritty players to be successful.
With that in mind, for the teams still looking for grittiness, here are the top 11 gritty players still on the market.
11. Kyle Wellwood
Wellwood hasn't be in high demand because he's not the most skilled player and because his return to the NHL left much to be desired.
However, he can be a gritty player and with the right team, he could fit in and play well.
10. Steve Staios
Most defenseman can be defined as "gritty," including Steve Staios, most recently of the Calgary Flames.
In addition to playing defense, Staios has some experience playing on forward.
With experience and the position comes grittiness and despite his age (38), he's still one of the best options, as far as it's concerned.
9. John Madden
He's one of the top players still available in terms of experience and skill, playing on both sides of the ice.
A few months back, Madden had suggested that if he didn't re-sign with the Wild, he would retire.
However, neither has occurred just yet.
Often, players will say something like that expecting to re-sign with their team, but when they don't, they choose to sign with another team instead.
If Madden decides to do that and a team has interest, they'll get a gritty player who could help them find success and even maybe a Stanley Cup, as Chicago did in 2010.
8. Jarkko Ruutu
He is known for being a gritty forward and even as a pest.
Ruutu is still an unrestricted free agent, although there has been talk of Ruutu returning to play in his native Finland.
Still, Ruutu has yet to sign anywhere and there might be a team still looking for the grittiness that he still brings to the table.
7. J.P. Dumont
Dumont's production made a significant dip in 2010-11; however, Dumont is still a gritty forward.
The Predators bought out Dumont, making him an unrestricted free agent. So far, a team hasn't snapped him up, but there's still time.
His decline in production may have turned off many teams and could be overshadowing his grittiness; however, he can still add to a team.
6. Mike Grier
Mike Grier has played for the Edmonton Oilers, Washington Capitals, San Jose Sharks and most recently, the Buffalo Sabres.
Grier has been known for being a gritty forward throughout his 14-year career.
He won't put up a lot of points—he put up 16 last season—but he brings toughness to a team's offense.
Despite his age (36), Grier can still add a lot to a team if they take a chance and sign him for a year.
5. Bryan McCabe
At the trade deadline, McCabe was a hot commodity for his skill quarterbacking the power play.
The Rangers decided against re-signing McCabe and he's now an unrestricted free agent.
At 36, there's probably limited interest left in him, particularly after the second half of last season, but McCabe is still a gritty player who could be a good addition to a team's blue line.
4. Drew Doughty
Drew Doughty is still negotiating a new contract for the 2011-12 season with the Los Angeles Kings, so theoretically, he could be available.
When people think of Doughty, they probably think of him as an offensive defenseman; however, Doughty is just as skilled on the defensive part.
Doughty has already been nominated for a Norris Trophy, even though he's just 21 years old.
He's also one of the most coveted defenseman now that he's an RFA.
If Doughty continues as expected, he'll become an even grittier and more intimidating defenseman for years to come.
3. Luke Schenn
Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Luke Schenn is sitll an RFA and is negotiating a new contract with the Leafs. Since he hasn't signed yet, theoretically he too is still on the market.
Schenn may not get as much attention as fellow RFA defenseman Drew Doughty and Shea Weber garnered this summer, but he's still highly coveted.
Most teams would kill to land a player like Schenn and would trade a lot to accomplish that.
Of course, Brian Burke isn't going to let Schenn go anywhere because of his grittiness and potential to become a top defenseman in the league.
2. Victor Oreskovich
Victor Oreskovich is probably one of the grittiest, young forwards in the league right now, but his name probably doesn't register with many people.
Oreskovich played for the Vancouver Canucks and is still waiting on a new contract.
Obviously, the Canucks don't have a lot of cap room after some of their summer signings, but if they can find a way, they should sign Oreskovich to a new deal.
If not, another team could greatly benefit from a player of his potential.
1. Brad Marchand
Brad Marchand and the Boston Bruins are still negotiating a new contract for 2011-12 and beyond and there's no way the Bruins will let him go.
However, we'll say he still counts and include him on this list.
Marchand played a big role in the Bruins' success last season and will play a large part in their future success as well.
He'll become even grittier and more intimidating with more experience in the league.
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