Tomorrow (July 5th) is a day that a lot of NHL fans look forward to. It is a day where your favorite team has a chance to land a big name player that can help the team in the future. Every year there is a healthy number of talented players who test the Free Agent waters trying to land a long-term deal or a big payday. With the buyouts being introduced this year is no different. Here are some of the top Free Agents and what they bring to the table and who they could potentially land with this summer.
Top 10 Free Agents:
The long time Calgary Flame, Jarome Iginla was dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins last season. The 36-year-old winger had 14 goals and 19 assists (5G and 6A in 13 games with PIT) in 44 games in last year’s shortened season. Iginla also had 12 points in 15 games in his first post-season appearance since 2008-09. The 500 goal scorer may not be the player that he used to be, but he will still be highly sought after by a lot of teams.
Nathan Horton will probably be wearing something other than the black and yellow ‘B’ on his sweater this upcoming season. He has had a hard time staying healthy in his career, but appeared in 46 of the 48 games this season. Pierre Lebrun reported that he believes Horton will end up with a “non-traditional hockey market” and wants a “quieter life”. Horton struggled slightly in the regular season in his three years with the Bruins. He scored just 107 points in 169 games, but improved his stock with 36 points in 43 playoff games with Boston.
After scoring 30 goals in 2011-12, David Clarkson only potted 15 in 48 games this season. The 6-foot-1-inch, 200 pound forward will likely be looking for close to $6-million per year which will eliminate a lot of teams from the picture. After spending his first seven years in the NHL with the Devils it appears as if the 29-year-old Canadian might be coming north of the border. According to Josh Rimer “the two teams that are pushing hard for David Clarkson are Toronto and Edmonton.”
Centers Mike Ribeiro, Stephen Weiss and Tyler Bozak will all likely be on the move in the next few days. Ribeiro did not get the long term deal that he wanted in Washington, but should ink a multi-year deal with a team in need of a pivot. He was a point per game player (49 points in 48 games) for the first time since 2007-08 when he was with the Stars.
Weiss struggled in 2013 because of injuries. He missed 31 games and only had 4 points. According to LeBrun if the Red Wings do not re-sign Valtteri Filppula that “Weiss would be their number one option.”
The Wings along with the Stars, Blues, Flames, Ducks and Maple Leafs have all “kicked tires” with the 27-year-old Bozak.
With all the forwards on the market, the pool of defenseman is rather thin. Former Bruin Andrew Ference is the top D-man available. He is a hard-nosed defenseman who almost every team could use. With all the defensive prospects that the Bruins have coming up they obviously deemed him expendable, but the other 29 teams in the NHL will likely be fighting for him on Friday.
Rob Scuderi may still sign with the Kings, but there are rumblings that he is interested in moving east to be closer to his family. He is 34-years-old and almost tied his career high in points even in a shortened season. He has appeared in 99 career playoff games and has played in a post-season game in each of the last seven seasons. A team looking for a veteran D-man with playoff experience will certainly be interested in Scuderi’s services.
Tim Thomas and Ilya Bryzgalov are the two biggest names as far as goalies go. Thomas took all of last season off but has interest in returning to the NHL this year. At 39-years-old it will be interesting to see if a team takes a chance on the always entertaining Thomas. He was the 2010-11 Conn Smythe and Vezina Trophy winner so it is a well known fact that he can play.
Speaking of entertaining netminders,Bryzgalov is also on the market. After posting spectacular numbers between 2007 and 2011 with the Coyotes, Bryz was a bust with the Flyers after signing a nine-year, $51-million dollar contract in the summer of 2011. I would expect him to land with a smaller NHL market like he was in with the Coyotes.
Other Notable Free Agents:
Ryane Clowe (F), Mikhail Grabovski (F), Derek Roy (F), Brad Boyes (F), Jaromir Jagr (F), Mason Raymond (F), Viktor Stalberg (F), Michael Ryder (F), Damien Brunner (F) Anton Khudobin (G), Ray Emery (G).
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