NHL Free Agents 2016: Ranking the Best Players Left at Every Position

Lyle Richardson@@SpectorsHockeyFeatured ColumnistJuly 3, 2016

NHL Free Agents 2016: Ranking the Best Players Left at Every Position

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Entering the third day of the NHL's 2016 free-agent period, all the top talent has been signed. However, several quality players, such as winger Jiri Hudler, are still available.

    These unsigned free agents could become affordable options for clubs still seeking experienced depth for 2016-17.

    In this slideshow, we'll rank the best players still available at every position. Age, recent performance and skills were among the factors that went into this compilation. 

    Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section below. 


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    Danny Moloshok/Associated Press

    3. Joni Ortio

    Joni Ortio, 25, showed some promise in his limited appearances over the last two seasons with the Calgary Flames. The young Finn could be an affordable backup option.

    2. Karri Ramo

    Karri Ramo's 2015-16 campaign was cut short by a knee injury in February. He should be fully recovered for next season. In 37 games last season, he had a goals-against average of 2.63 and a .909 save percentage.

    1. Jhonas Enroth

    The 28-year-old Jhonas Enroth has considerable experience as an NHL backup. In 16 games with the Los Angeles Kings last season, he posted a 2.17 GAA and .922 SP with two shutouts.


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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    5. Kyle Quincey

    Kyle Quincey missed 35 games last season because of ankle surgery. Upon his return, he averaged over 19 minutes and 45 seconds of ice time with the Detroit Red Wings. He could be a reasonable depth signing. 

    4. Luke Schenn

    The 26-year-old Luke Schenn is a physical shutdown defender. The 6'2", 229-pounder could be a good fit on teams in need of blue-line size and grit.

    3. James Wisniewski

    James Wisniewski, 32, lost all but one game in 2015-16 to a season-ending knee injury. When healthy, he's a mobile blueliner who can anchor a power play. In 2013-14, he tallied a career-best 51 points. 

    2. Justin Schultz

    Once a highly-touted mobile defenseman, Justin Schultz's stock tumbled this season. Still, he helped the Pittsburgh Penguins win the Stanley Cup. Schultz has two 30-plus point seasons on his resume.

    1. Kris Russell

    Kris Russell, 29, is a shot-blocking specialist with good puck-moving ability. Given the few quality defensemen remaining in the free-agent market, he should prove attractive for clubs seeking blue-line depth.


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    Harry How/Getty Images

    5. Chris Kelly

    Chris Kelly, 35, lost all but 11 games to a season-ending leg injury in 2015-16. Though he's an aging center, Kelly has solid two-way skills. He could be an affordable short-term checking-line addition.

    4. Brad Richards

    Now 36, Brad Richards' production has steadily declined in recent years. Still, he helped the Chicago Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup in 2015. His playmaking skills and versatility could interest teams looking for experienced forward depth.

    3. Matt Cullen

    The 39-year-old Matt Cullen proved to be a vital part of the Pittsburgh Penguins' run to the 2016 Stanley Cup. He could be a good option as a skilled fourth-line center on a one-year contract. 

    2. Sam Gagner

    Sam Gagner, 26, managed only 16 points in 53 games last season. However, he has six 40-plus point seasons in nine NHL campaigns. He's a versatile forward who can also play as a wing.

    1. Brandon Pirri

    The 25-year-old Brandon Pirri flashes occasional bursts of offensive potential. He tallied 22 goals in 49 games in 2014-15 with the Florida Panthers. He can also skate on the wing. Pirri could be an affordable gamble for clubs in need of goal production. 

Left Wings

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    Rocky W. Widner/NHL/Getty Images

    3. Lauri Korpikoski

    Lauri Korpikoski, who turns 30 on July 28, is a speedy, energetic checking forward. He can play all three forward positions and is a solid penalty-killer. He should be a cost-effective, short-term signing.

    2. Alex Tanguay

    At 36, Alex Tanguay's best seasons are well behind him. Still, he's only a year removed from a 22-goal, 55-point performance. Following a late-season trade from the Colorado Avalanche to the Arizona Coyotes, he netted 13 points in his final 18 games.

    1. Jimmy Vesey

    Winner of the 2016 Hobey Baker Award, the 23-year-old Jimmy Vesey is eligible for unrestricted free-agent status on Aug. 15. If he doesn't re-sign with the Buffalo Sabres, he won't lack for suitors. 

Right Wings

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    4. Kris Versteeg

    The well-traveled Kris Versteeg is past his prime as a scorer. Still, the 30-year-old has value as a depth forward with playoff experience. 

    3. Radim Vrbata

    After enjoying a 31-goal, 63-point campaign in 2014-15, the 35-year-old Radim Vrbata managed only 27 points in 63 games for the Vancouver Canucks last season. He could be an inexpensive gamble on a one-year, bonus-laden contract.  

    2. Shane Doan

    Shane Doan is expected to re-sign with the Arizona Coyotes. If he and the Coyotes were to part ways, the 39-year-old would attract suitors interested in his leadership and experience. Last season, Doan reached the 20-goal mark for the 13th time in his career. 

    1. Jiri Hudler

    Hudler, 32, tallied 46 points last season, split between the Calgary Flames and Florida Panthers. He's a year removed from a career-high 76 points. He should still prove enticing for teams in need of secondary scoring.

    Stats per NHL.com.


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