Zetterberg, Gaborik, Thomas, and some Early Free Agent Speculation

Alex LangillContributor IDecember 21, 2008

I decided I would have some fun and look at the Free Agent List of next year. Here is some predictions I have made, for the fun of it.

The guys who will return to the same team next year will most likely be: Henrik Zetterberg, Tim Thomas, Niklas Backstrom, Alexei Kovalev, Sedin Twins, Filip Kuba, Mattias Ohlund, Mike Komisarek, Nik Antropov, and lastly Tim Connolly. All players who are vital to their franchises and affordable to them as well. 

In Florida there is a toss-up between defensemen Nick Boynton and Jay Bouwmeester. They are both number one defenseman and share a sort of Rob Blake/Adam Foote in 02-04 relationship. They cannot afford both with McCabe's brutal six million dollar mouth to feed.

I believe it is more likely that Boynton will be staying behind and Bouwmeester might leave Miami to perhaps Denver for Jordan Leopold and Marek Svatos. Boynton is  cheaper and could definitely play a more defensive game along side Leopold or McCabe, who bring a more offensive punch.

Detroit is going to be taking a blow later this year when Henrik Zetterberg's, Marian Hossa's and Johan Franzen's contracts all come to an end. Detroit will not be able to afford all three of them, so it seems they are to bid farewell to one or two of them. Hossa would probably be the first to leave, he was just a one year deal, Atlanta might take him back.

Franzen might possibly be the second, although there is a chance for Detroit to squeeze him in under the cap. But Zetterberg is most likely to stay, he is a franchise player and Detroit would probably plunder if he were to leave.

Marian Gaborik has been a topic of conversation quite often these days, and not all that much because of his playing skills. It seems at any given moment Gaborik will be leaving St. Paul. But if not, his contract ends in June, and it seems rather obvious he will not be returning.

There is a lot of talk of Gaborik being unhappy playing under Jacques Lemaire's coaching. I recommend Doug Risebrough trade him rather than let his contract run out because Minnesota could get something good for Gaborik.

Montreal is losing quite a bit of players at the end of this year, there is no way they could afford all of them back. Robert Lang, Saku Koivu, Alex Tanguay, Mike Komisarek, and Alexei Kovalev. All key players in Montreal. But Montreal has a lot of great young talent, including the Kostitsyn brothers, Christopher Higgins, Maxim Lapierre, Guillaume Latendresse, Carey Price, Jaroslav Halak, and in rookie Matt D'Agostini.

To nurture all this young talent would take a couple good veterans. Kovalev is definitely the top choice, he loves to play the game and is a franchise player, and a good captain. Koivu would be a good choice being another franchise veteran. Re-signing  Komisarek would be a good move for the defensive corps and really after that, it is all they would need.

Other curious free agents include: Brian Gionta, Nikolai Zherdev, Ales Kotalik, Manny Fernandez, Martin Biron, Marek Malik, Miroslav Satan, Mike Knuble, Nik Antropov, Ruslan Fedotenko, Mike Comrie, Jordan Leopold, Andrew Raycroft, Ian Laperriere, and Jiri Hudler.