NHL Free Agency: Top 13 Players Still Available and Where They'll Go
Training camps are open, and the buzz is in the air as the first exhibition games have just been played. Quite a few teams in the exhibition try out different players, try different line combinations and of course, have battles for the final remaining roster spots.
However, some players due to aging or just pure greed have not signed with an NHL team as of yet.
Free Agents are grouped into two groups, restricted and unrestricted. A restricted free agent's current club holds the ability to match any offer put on the player, while an unrestricted free agent is free to sign where ever he pleases. His parent club cannot match any offer made.
Here's a list of the Top 13 remaining free agents left in the NHL.
13. Sergei Samsonov, Unrestricted Free Agent
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Sergei Samsonov is an enigma in the NHL. A widely inconsistent Russian who at times can look utterly dangerous on the ice, but most often, he's invisible. Most Russians are like that though. Alexei Kovalev may have been the most talented player in the NHL, but didn't have the ambition to work at his craft.
Matt Bradley, former Capital, said of Alex Semin that he has the ability to be the best player in the NHL, but just doesn't care.
Why does Samsonov remain unsigned? He likely has wore out his welcome in the NHL and is likely heading for the KHL.
12. Rob Niedermayer, Unrestricted Free Agent
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Rob Niedermayer is still a useful player in the NHL. He's a great depth center to have and is a magnificent penalty killer. He's also a very good face-off man and a veteran leader on any club that would sign him. However, Niedermayer's days in the NHL appear to be over as he signed a deal with Lugano of the Swiss Elite League.
So far in four games, Niedermayer has three assists and still has the ability to play at a high level. Niedermayer was likely over the hill for many NHL clubs and went unsigned.
Destination: Swiss League
11. Mike Comrie, Unrestricted Free Agent
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Mike Comrie, if he's healthy, is a serviceable second or third line winger on many teams, and he can provide some solid veteran leadership for organizations that are starving for it.
However, due to injuries Comrie has really digressed lately, and isn't looking like he'll be getting a job in the NHL anytime soon. Does he head to Russia and risk possibly losing a relationship with Hilary Duff? How will the saga unfold?
Yes, I really hope this doesn't turn into a soap opera.
10. Michael Nylander, Unrestricted Free Agent
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Michael Nylander, 39, hasn't played in the NHL for at least two full seasons, but by all reports, he has not retired yet. Nylander is a very good playmaker, but questions remain about his ability to skate.
He's one of the few old NHL'ers still left in the league. What I mean here is that he's the player who could get away with not being the best skater. Players like Jason Allison, Jeff O'Neill and many others are now retired because the game is just too quick for them. Nylander by the looks of it will join the crowd.
9. John Madden, Unrestricted Free Agent
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John Madden is still one of the best depth centers in the league, despite being over 35 years of age. Madden is a great faceoff man, has loads of veteran experience and is a great skater along with being a great penalty killer. Somehow he remains unsigned. My question is why?
In my opinion, a team like the Winnipeg Jets would welcome a guy like Madden onto their team. He would provide them with everything I listed above and many more.
Madden wouldn't have to move far, as the trip from Minneapolis to Winnipeg isn't that remote at all.
8. Chris Campoli, Unrestricted Free Agent
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Chris Campoli had a wonderful rookie year with the New York Islanders in 2005-06, when he scored nine goals and assisted on 24 for 33 points in 80 games.
How odd is it Campoli's best year was his rookie year? Most often than not, players have their best years in the prime of their careers, however for Campoli, his best year apparently was in his first year.
He has been stricken with injuries most of his career, but last year he played his first full season since 2005-06.
Campoli is a nice No. 6 or No. 7 defenceman on a team that needs a backup power-play point specialist, or an offensive-minded defenceman.
7. Anton Stralman, Unrestricted Free Agent
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Anton Stralman's first full pro season was a good one with the Blue Jackets as he potted 34 points in 78 games, however, most of those points game on the power play as he was a -17 for the season, a team worst.
Stralman is primarily used as a power-play quarterback. He really lacks the intensity and physical mindset to be a really effective defensive defenceman. His poor play in his own zone is likely the reason he doesn't have a contract today.
Destination: Swedish Elite League
6. Ray Emery, Unrestricted Free Agent
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Ray Emery shined last year in the few games he played with the Ducks. He finished 10 games with a 2.28 GAA and a .928 save percentage.
Emery still remains unemployed though, as teams have stayed away from the veteran netminder. Is he a No. 1 goalie? Is he still a distraction in the locker room? Can he handle the pressure of an everyday job again in the NHL?
These questions that remain unanswered are the main reason he's without a job today.
Destination: San Jose Sharks (Antero Niittymaki out 12 weeks)
5. Bryan McCabe, Unrestricted Free Agent
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Bryan McCabe has had a pretty great career. He's your typical power-play defenceman who will pot you about 40 points a season, but plays some pretty shoddy defence. At 36 years old, McCabe is definitely on the downswing of this career, as it looks like he'll only be used as a specialty power-play man, or a depth defenceman.
The days of being a top four defenceman appear to be over for McCabe, now he will have to wait for another contract to come his way.
4. Josh Bailey, Restricted Free Agent
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Josh Bailey is one of a few restricted free-agent holdouts in the NHL right now. He really hasn't hit his stride yet in the NHL, but he's got talent to spare.
Drafted ninth overall by the Islanders in the 2008 draft, Bailey was thought of as a two-way forward who plays well in all three zones.
His journey with the Isles has been a rocky one so far. He got sent down to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers near the end of the year and scored 17 points in 11 games. He's not an AHL'er anymore, and Bailey should be looking at a regular role with the team this season.
Destination: Long Island
3. JP Dumont, Unrestricted Free Agent
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JP Dumont's career is now in a standstill at the age of 33. He's still got lots left in the tank, yet no team has taken a chance on the guy. His career numbers indicate he averages close to 50 points a season, and is a viable second or third line option on any NHL team.
Dumont's size at 6'1" 205 pounds could be useful on smaller teams such as the Montreal Canadiens, who actually could use Dumont's services.
Could a return home to Montreal be in the magic 8-ball for Dumont?
2. Kyle Turris, Restricted Free Agent
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The first player to ever be selected in the Top Three of the NHL Entry Draft from junior A hockey, Turris' NHL journey was expected to be a long and tough. Needing to adjust to playing better competition and quicker skaters, Turris has struggled mightily getting his feet wet in the NHL.
A former 66-goal scorer with the Burnaby Express in the BC Hockey League, Turris has the hands to dazzle the NHL, but has not yet been able to capitalize on his many opportunities.
Turris will eventually get it all together, but for now, he appears to still be a project for any team that's willing to spend a good buck for his services. His rights remain with Phoenix, but there's always a chance some team will offer him a deal he cannot refuse and the Coyotes will not match. Time will tell how this tale will end.
1. Drew Doughty, Restricted Free Agent
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Drew Doughty is easily the best available free agent still left on the market. He's a restricted free agent and appears to be in some nasty contract talks with the Los Angeles Kings. According to reports, Doughty is asking for roughly $7-7.5 million a season, but the Kings aren't willing to go over $6.8 million a year.
Doughty is looking for Shea Weber like money, and in my opinion, Doughty is worth every penny. Will Doughty be the first camp holdout of this NHL season? By the looks of it, the start of the 2011-12 season for Doughty may be delayed.
I highly doubt any team will risk offering him an offer sheet for that much money. The penalty for offering an expensive offer sheet in that range is two first-round picks, a second and a third-round pick, so the price is definitely high to go after Doughty.
Destination: Los Angeles