NHL Free Agency: One Player Each Team Needs To Let Walk
In the NHL, July 1 is a day that is usually looked forward to and remembered for the big player signings with new teams. What people don't remember are the reasons why the player left his former team.
Perhaps it was because his prior team needed the money to sign another player. Maybe he was a problem in the locker room, or perhaps it was just time for both parties to move on.
This year is no different, and each team has at least one player that it needs to let go—or does it?
Who are they? Let's find out.
Anaheim: Jason Blake
2011-12 Cap Hit: $4,000,000
Jason Blake's contract given to him by the Toronto Maple Leafs was based on a 40-goal season he had in his final year with the New York Islanders. Expectations were huge for him coming into Toronto, and he never really lived up to them.
Being shipped off to Anaheim two seasons ago, he hasn't done much for the Ducks either. Being injured in the third game of the season this year hasn't helped his case. It will probably best for Blake to get a fresh start for another team.
Team's Other Notable UFAs: Teemu Selanne, Francois Beauchemin, Niklas Hagman, Saku Koivu, Dan Ellis, George Parros, Sheldon Brookbank
Boston Bruins: Joe Corvo
2011-12 Cap Hit: $2,250,000
Boston doesn't really need to let anyone go, but it has a few good prospects coming up on the blue line, and someone might have to go to open up a roster spot.
Joe Corvo has the highest salary of any of their defensemen set to become unrestricted free agents, so letting him go would open up a roster spot, possibly for Dougie Hamilton, and some money for the Bruins to spend.
Team's Other Notable UFAs: Chris Kelly, Johnny Boychuk, Greg Campbell, Daniel Paille, Shawn Thornton
Buffalo Sabres: Brad Boyes
2011-12 Cap Hit: $4,000,000
Brad Boyes hasn't exactly come into the Sabres organization and been an offensive force as they wanted him to. It's unfortunate, but sometimes a player just doesn't fit with a team.
He is another player that could use a fresh start.
Team's Other Notable UFAs: Jochen Hecht, Ales Kotalik, Paul Gaustad, Shaone Morrisonn
Calgary Flames: Cory Sarich
2011-12 Cap Hit: $3,600,000
Whenever there are rumors that a player has requested a trade, usually things aren't going so well for the team and the player is upset with his position on the team. More than likely this is the case with Cory Sarich.
If the Flames can't find a trade for him, he will be let go come July 1.
Team's Other Notable UFAs: Olli Jokinen, Lee Stempniak, David Moss, Brendan Morrison, Scott Hannan, Tom Kostopoulos
Carolina Hurricanes: Jaroslav Spacek
2011-12 Cap Hit: $3,833,333
Just acquired in the Tomas Kaberle trade, it looks like Jaroslav Spacek could be on the way out pretty soon, according to some rumors flying around the league.
If he isn't traded by the trade deadline, he will sign elsewhere in the NHL.
Team's Other Notable UFAs: Tuomo Ruutu, Bryan Allen, Tim Gleason, Alexei Ponikarovsky
Chicago Blackhawks: Cristobal Huet
2011-12 Cap Hit: $5,625,000
Let's see. More than five-and-a-half-million dollars being paid to a goalie playing in Switzerland. Chicago has been waiting for this contract to end for a while now.
Team's Other Notable UFAs: Andrew Brunette, Sean O'Donnell, Daniel Carcillo
Colorado Avalanche: Milan Hejduk
2011-12 Cap Hit: $3,000,000
As much has Milan Hejduk has been a leader for the Colorado Avalanche, it's time for him to move on. Retirement could be an option, but if he decides to continue playing, he should have the chance at going after another Stanley Cup.
Team's Other Notable UFAs: David Jones, Matt Hunwick, Jay McClement, Shane O'Brien, Cody McLeod, Daniel Winnik, Brandon Yip, Joakim Lindstrom
Columbus Blue Jackets: Kristian Huselius
2011-12 Cap Hit: $4,750,000
Kristian Huselius is clearly making more money than he should be. While he is an important part of the Blue Jackets, the team has only made the playoffs once, and it needs a fresh start. If he is re-signed, it will have to be a much lower cap hit.
Team's Other Notable UFAs: Samuel Pahlsson, Vaclav Prospal, Radek Martinek
Dallas Stars: Andrew Raycroft
2011-12 Cap Hit: $650,000
Andrew Raycroft has fallen mightily over the course of his career—from winning the Calder Trophy in his rookie year to being the backup of any team he is with. He will more than likely need to find a new team, as the Stars have some good goaltending prospects.
Team's Other Notable UFAs: Sheldon Souray, Nicklas Grossman, Radek Dvorak, Adam Burish
Detroit Red Wings: Jiri Hudler
2011-12 Cap Hit: $2,875,000
While he's on a recent hot streak, Jiri Hudler has been a bit of a bit of a disappointment in Detroit since he returned from Russia.
It is all but a forgone conclusion that Hudler will be done as a Wing at the end of the season.
Team's Other Notable UFAs: Nicklas Lidstrom, Brad Stuart, Todd Bertuzzi, Tomas Holmstrom
Edmonton Oilers: Ales Hemsky
2011-12 Cap Hit: $4,100,000
Ales Hemsky has been surrounded by trade rumors for what seems like forever. While he's been an offensive force for Edmonton, the team is now in the hands of Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Hemsky is no longer untouchable.
While it is preferable that the Oilers find a trading partner for him rather than lose him for nothing, it might not be that easy.
Team's Other Notable UFAs: Ryan Smyth, Andy Sutton
Florida Panthers: Scott Clemmensen
2011-12 Cap Hit: $1,200,000
Scott Clemmensen will be squeezed out of Florida for one reason: Jacob Markstrom. Markstrom is ready for the NHL and will take over the starting job next year, forcing Jose Theodore into the backup job. Clemmensen is the unfortunate victim.
Team's Other Notable UFAs: Mikael Samuelsson, Marco Sturm, Jason Garrison
Los Angeles Kings: Dustin Penner
2011-12 Cap Hit: $4,250,000
It is evident that Los Angeles got the bad end of the deal when it acquired Dustin Penner from the Oilers. The Oilers have some great prospects, and the Kings have a player they have been trying to get rid of.
Penner is another player that likely will be traded before the trade deadline—that is, if the Kings can find a suitor.
Team's Other Notable UFAs: Jarret Stoll, Willie Mitchell
Minnesota Wild: Brad Staubitz
2011-12 Cap Hit: $575,000
Brad Staubitz isn't a very important part of the Minnesota Wild. He is one of the tough players on the Wild, but unlike Cal Clutterbuck, Staubitz is likely to be suspended a few times a year. He could prove to be a distraction.
Team's Other Notable UFAs: Greg Zanon, Kyle Brodziak, Mike Lundin, Josh Harding
Montreal Canadiens: Andrei Kostitsyn
2011-12 Cap Hit: $3,250,000
While the problems between Andrei Kostitsyn and Jacques Martin are no longer an issue, it might be time for a new start for Andrei. It helped his brother Sergei—maybe it can help him too.
Team's Other Notable UFAs: Josh Gorges, Hal Gill, Chris Campoli, Travis Moen
Nashville Predators: Jordin Tootoo
2011-12 Cap Hit: $1,250,000
Jordin Tootoo has been a great player for Nashville over his career, and while he still could still be, he might be let go so that Nashville can re-sign both Shea Weber and Ryan Suter.
Team's Other Notable UFAs: Ryan Suter, Francis Bouillon
New Jersey Devils: Martin Brodeur
2011-12 Cap Hit: $5,200,000
Unfortunately, Martin Brodeur is at the end of his career, and it is quite evident that his best days are behind him. If he doesn't retire, it might be best for him to leave town. The Devils are going to need money to re-sign Zach Parise, and if Brodeur doesn't take a massive pay cut, he will have to be let go.
Team's Other Notable UFAs: Zach Parise, Bryce Salvador, Kurtis Foster, Johan Hedberg
New York Islanders: Evgeni Nabokov
2011-12 Cap Hit: $570,000
Evgeni Nabokov was not too happy when the Islanders claimed him off waivers last season. He refused to play for them last season, but he has decided to bite the bullet this season and suit up.
There have been many rumors of him being traded, but I would expect him to ride out the season with the Islanders and then go to a contender in the offseason.
Team's Other Notable UFAs: Brian Rolston, Mark Eaton, Al Montoya, Frans Nielsen, P.A. Parenteau, Milan Jurcina
New York Rangers: Sean Avery
2011-12 Cap Hit: $3,875,000
I make no attempt at hiding my dislike for Sean Avery, and I hope the Rangers let him go and no other team signs him. In my view, the NHL would be better without him.
Team's Other Notable UFAs: Ruslan Fedotenko, Erik Christensen, Martin Biron, Brandon Prust
Ottawa Senators: Filip Kuba
2011-12 Cap Hit: $3,700,000
On a rebuilding team like the Senators, the 34-year-old Kuba is not of that much value. He is another player that is just riding out a contract waiting to get another chance elsewhere.
Team's Other Notable UFAs: Alex Auld, Matt Carkner, Zenon Konopka
Philadelphia Flyers: Michael Leighton
2011-12 Cap Hit: $1,550,000
The forgotten man in Philadelphia's goalie carousel, Michael Leighton is languishing down in the AHL. He deserves better and will get his shot come next season.
Team's Other Notable UFAs: Matt Carle, Jaromir Jagr, Ian Laperriere
Phoenix Coyotes: Adrian Aucoin
2011-12 Cap Hit: $2,000,000
With the acquisition of David Rundblad from Ottawa, Phoenix has one of the best defensive prospect groups in the NHL. Along with Rundblad, it has Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Brandon Gormley and Connor Murphy.
What this means is that it is time for the Coyotes to let the old guard go. They have other veterans to mentor the youngsters, and Aucoin is now expendable.
Team's Other Notable UFAs: Shane Doan, Michal Rozsival, Daymond Langkow, Ray Whitney
Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks: No One
The Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks have no one that they need to let go. They are both pretty much set and could re-sign any of their free agents. Whether they do or don't really doesn't matter.
Pittsburgh's Notable UFAs: Steve Sullivan, Arron Asham, Brent Johnson
San Jose's Notable UFAs: Antero Niittymaki, Torrey Mitchell, Colin White, Jim Vandermeer
St. Louis Blues: Carlo Colaiacovo
2011-12 Cap Hit: $2,125,000
Carlo Colaiacovo has been a serviceable defenseman for the Blues since he was acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs, but unfortunately he has never really gotten away from the injury bug. With Brock Beukeboom coming up the pipe, Colaiacovo's time with the Blues might be coming to an end.
Team's Other Notable UFAs: Barret Jackman, Jason Arnott, Jamie Langenbrunner, Brian Elliott
Tampa Bay Lightning: Dwayne Roloson
2011-12 Cap Hit: $3,500,000
It has finally happened—Dwayne Roloson has finally returned to Earth. For the past few seasons, Roloson has been acting like a goalie half his age. However, his age has finally caught up to him, and it shows.
With the Lightning relying more and more on Mathieu Garon, it is evident that the Lightning have to go after a goalie at the trade deadline. I wouldn't trade Roloson because he would bring valuable experience in a playoff run.
Team's Other Notable UFAs: Pavel Kubina, Brett Clark, Dominic Moore, Ryan Shannon
Toronto Maple Leafs: Jeff Finger
2011-12 Cap Hit: $3,500,000
It was a foregone conclusion that Jeff Finger was going to be the Leafs representative on this list. While letting him go won't give the Leafs any cap relief since he has been playing in the minors, they won't have to pay him $3.5 million to play in the minors.
Team's Other Notable UFAs: John-Michael Liles, Mikhail Grabovski, Jonas Gustavsson
Vancouver Canucks: Steven Reinprecht
2011-12 Cap Hit: $2,050,000
An add-on in the David Booth deal, Steven Reinprecht was immediately sent down to the Chicago Wolves after he was acquired. As he only brings additional depth, the Canucks don't really need to re-sign him, as they have plenty of young prospects coming that will get a spot in the NHL before him.
Team's Other Notable UFAs: Sami Salo, Aaron Rome
Washington Capitals: Alex Semin
2011-12 Cap Hit: $6,700,000
The Washington Capitals cannot re-sign Alex Semin. Every year it's the same. They sign him to a one-year deal, and then there are constant trade rumors surrounding him. If he is not traded this year, which I suspect will be the case, the Capitals need to cut their losses and let him go.
Team's Other Notable UFAs: Dennis Wideman, Mike Knuble, Tomas Vokoun, Jeff Halpern
Winnipeg Jets: Johnny Oduya
2011-12 Cap Hit: $3,500,000
Johnny Oduya could end up staying with the Jets, but in my opinion they should let him go and use the money that would go to him on one of the big-name free agent defensemen. With plenty of defensemen to go after, Oduya could be an unfortunate victim in Winnipeg. He would find a new home pretty quickly, though.
Team's Other Notable UFAs: Chris Mason, Tanner Glass, Kyle Wellwood, Randy Jones