As of noon on Tuesday, super-pest Sean Avery was no longer a New York Ranger. That means there are 29 other teams in the league that could be interested in pursuing him for his services. The NHL is a competitive place, and no one would be totally shocked to see Avery in another uniform within the next few weeks.
When he feels like it he is one of the most talented (I know, I know...my fingers locked up when I was typing that) agitators in the league. Key words being when he feels like it. Because typically what Avery feels like doing is being an attention-hogging, locker-room cancer.
So why would any team take a chance on him?
The same reason LA, Dallas and New York did after he bombed out in Detroit (thank the hockey Gods). There is always hope that, for whatever reason, Avery will get his head screwed on tight enough to just shut up, suit up and play hockey.
Some people question Avery's will and desire to play the game at all. He seems pretty wrapped up in the fashion scene in New York, has internships in that industry and has even become a bit vocal over political issues such as gay marriage.
This is all assuming that he has an interest in continuing his career elsewhere.
So where could the enigmatic Avery land? Here are four teams that could pitch him a one-year, don't-mess-this-up offer.
The Winnipeg Jets have a tremendous amount of cap space heading into their first season in their new home.
The team already employs several net-presence, sandpaper-type players, and Avery would give them another forward from that mold. The Jets also have a few guys with big personalities whose presence could help snuff out some of the negative that he can bring to the locker room.
And no disrespect to Winnipeg whatsoever, but perhaps Avery would have a harder time getting in trouble there than he did in New York City. Having an attention hog like him running around in New York is kind of like putting a recovering alcoholic in a room full of high-quality liquor and beer.
He may be able to resist the urge for a while, but sooner or later something bad is going to happen.
They say that no press is bad press.
Avery would have every chance to test that theory out in Phoenix. It could honestly be a match-made-in-hockey heaven, though it'd be very hard to count on that.
This is a team that struggles to garner the attention of locals despite icing some pretty decent hockey teams over the last few seasons. Perhaps Avery could shake up the local sporting community enough to draw the attention of those living in the sprawling Phoenix area.
I'm not saying that attendance would suddenly take a jump with the addition of Avery. I'm saying that the hockey stories in the paper would suddenly get a lot more interesting. For a team that has been tied up with rumors of relocation, maybe that wouldn't be such a bad thing.
Pick your hockey poison.
Avery as a Flyer may not be an intolerable stretch.
The team lost fellow pest Dan Carcillo to the Chicago Blackhawks this season during their massive makeover, and they may not quite realize how much they miss that sort of presence just yet. Avery could go from one of the most despised figures in Philly to being one of the most loved.
That positive feedback for just playing rough-and-tumble hockey could go a long way toward sapping Avery's need to garner attention in other ways. These pesky players tend to be fan favorites on the Flyers, as opposed to lightning rods for negative attention.
If Avery can't fit in in Philadelphia, he probably can't fit in anywhere.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are a team on the rise in the Eastern Conference. The quick and talented team pushed eventual Cup champion Boston to the brink of elimination and, barring outstanding performances from Tim Thomas, could have won the series.
Tampa should be among the top teams in the conference for at least the next few seasons, which means they'll be running into the Penguins and/or Capitals in the playoffs. Signing Avery would give the team a guy who has proven that he can get under Sidney Crosby's skin.
What else do you need to know?
This is a guy who loves to agitate the top talents on the opposing team, and that edge could give Tampa a win or two in a tight series. Plus they've already made this kind of situation work on one occasion with Steve Downie.
Maybe it'd be a bit of goon overkill, but if the Sharks can employ Claude Lemieux while looking for a way to get by the Detroit Red Wings in the playoffs, I don't think Avery to Tampa is too much of a stretch.