The 2011 NHL free-agency frenzy was a complete whirlwind, leaving plenty of debris behind for teams to scoop up after the first few days of signings had commenced. Two months later and right before training camps begin, a lot of those forgotten players are still sitting on the open market.
A lower-tier free agent in the NHL is conditioned to have a certain level of patience. The demand is not necessarily high for these players, and an injury is usually the only thing that gets them a contract.
The last echelon of free agents will likely find a home at some point this season, so let's take a look at which players could hear their names called on the coming weeks.
J.P. Dumont has never quite lived up to the expectations bestowed upon him after he was drafted third overall in the 1996 NHL entry draft.
Dumont strung together three straight seasons of 60 or more points from 2006-2009 but has since seen his career tailspin to the point where he scored only 19 points in the 2010-2011 season. There is clearly a reason that Dumont remains unsigned.
However, Dumont is only 33 years old and plays a fairly decent two-way game. An injury in training camp could force a squad to bring in J.P. Dumont to play a third or fourth line role.
Call me crazy, but I think Paul Mara represents significant value on the open market right now.
Mara is not going to put a team over the hump, but his style of play and experience make him an excellent fit on the third pairing of most NHL teams.
In addition, Mara is just 32 years of age and commands less than $1 million against the cap. He's a low-risk signing that will be under contract by midseason.
John Madden is the perfect signing at this point in the offseason. He is an experienced player, so he will require very little adjustment to any scheme you throw at him. Plus, he is still a formidable defensive player in the NHL.
Madden also brings with him a ton of leadership ability, which Mark Recchi proved can be the difference maker in a Stanley Cup run.
Steve Bernier still has some upside. The 26-year-old Bernier has had an up-and-down career that's been slowed significantly by injuries. The 15 points he had a season ago were the most disappointing.
However, there is plenty of time for Bernier to turn things around, and at the price he is going to command, he could be a big-time bargain.
Sergei Samsanov has been around the block long enough that he can sit out training camp without any serious repercussions. That is, so long as a team is willing to give him a contract.
The undersized Russian forward had 40 points a year ago between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Florida Panthers, so it is quite apparent that he still has something left in the tank.
There is still hope for Pascal Leclaire in the NHL. While his career has been riddled with injuries, Leclaire has shown flashes of elite talent on numerous occasions. Unfortunately, he has not found the right situation just yet.
Any team willing to take a shot on Pascal Leclaire will be able to get him for cheap and to play a backup role with their club. In limited action, Leclaire could be a terrific change-of-pace goaltender for a team with an established workhorse already atop the depth chart.
Experience is king for a player that is going to miss at least a chunk of training camp in the NHL. Bryan McCabe has plenty of it.
McCabe, 36, fell flat on his face after being traded to the New York Rangers at the deadline last season. However, before the change of scenery, he had put up a few solid years down in Florida in the years prior.
Stan Bowman has announced that Chris Campoli, formerly a restricted free agent of the Chicago Blackhawks, will not be returning to the team for the 2011 NHL season, making him a UFA.
Campoli has never put up outstanding point totals, but his defensive play is formidable for a depth defenseman. The 27-year-old Campoli will not likely seek huge money on the open market, so a team could find a diamond in the rough.
Anton Stralman burst onto the scene during the 2009-2010 season with the Columbus Blue Jackets, collecting 34 points in over 70 games played. However, the Swedish born defenseman fell down to earth a year ago, suffering from injuries and managing only 19 points.
At 25 years of age, it is tough to give up on Stralman at this point. He has shown flashes of high-level play and is worth a flier as a third-pairing defenseman.
Ray Emery shocked everyone when he stood strong between the pipes for the Anaheim Ducks down the stretch last season. That performance earned Emery nothing more than a tryout with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Emery is the perfect goaltender to bring in as a backup. He is highly competitive and will push the starter to become better. Not to mention, Emery holds his own when forced into sporadic action throughout the season. He needs to get signed.