Best Remaining NHL Free Agents

By
Updated: July 8, 2013
ron hainsey

After three days of the NHL’s free agent frenzy, most of the biggest names are off the market.  However, for teams still looking to upgrade their rosters, there are still a number of quality free agents out there.

Forwards

Jaromir Jagr, Boston Bruins
2012-13 Salary (before being Pro-Rated): $4.5 Million Cap Hit: $4.5 million.
2012-13 Stats: 45 GP, 16 G, 19 A, 35 PTS, 22 PIMs,

Jagr put up good numbers in the regular season, and proved that even at 41-years-old, the NHL legend still had some tricks up his sleeve.  He is especially effective on the powerplay where he takes advantage of added time and space with some of the best stickhandling, shooting, and passing skills in NHL history.  For the second year in a row Jagr seemed to slow a bit in the playoffs, as he was not able to score a goal (but did add ten assists) in 22 playoff games.  Still, Jagr provides flashes of his generational talent, and he can add some offence to a team that needs some added punch.

Mikhail Grabovski, Toronto Maple Leafs
2012-13 Salary (before being Pro-Rated): $6 Million Cap Hit: $5.5 million.
2012-13 Stats: 48 GP, 9 G, 7 A, 16 PTS, 24 PIMs,

Grabovski was bought out after a disappointing season with the Toronto Maple Leafs.  Leafs coach Randy Carlyle attempted to use Grabovski as a shut down centre playing against other team’s top lines.  It didn’t work, and Grabovski told the media what he thought of Carlyle after being bought out, dropping a ton of expletives in the process.  Grabovski can be effective as a shoot first centre on an NHL team’s second line.  He got married this weekend and that may be what is slowing negotiations, or it could be an issue of considering his options with both the KHL and NHL going forward.  He’s the best centre left on the market if a team is looking for offensive punch up the middle.

Teemu Selanne, Anaheim Ducks
2012-13 Salary (before being Pro-Rated): $4.5 Million Cap Hit: $4.5 million.
2012-13 Stats: 46 GP, 12 G, 12 A, 24 PTS, 28 PIMs,

Most assume that it is Anaheim or bust for the 43-year-old Selanne, who still has not even decided if he will play in 2013-14.  While those outcomes still seem to be the two most likely by far, we can not ignore what happened with Daniel Alfredsson over the weekend either.  In any event, the Finnish Flash can still play, and is still a great second line right wing.  He can snipe as well as anyone ever has in the NHL, and while he may have lost a step over the years, he’s still quick enough to play in the NHL.  Selanne can add offence, and most hockey fans would love to see him play one more year.

Brad Boyes, New York Islanders
2012-13 Salary (before being Pro-Rated): $1 Million Cap Hit: $1 million.
2012-13 Stats: 48 GP, 10 G, 25 A, 35 PTS, 16 PIMs,

Boyes was rescued from the scrap heap last offseason by the New York Islanders.  He had a great season playing on the Isles top line with John Tavares and Matt Moulson most of the season.  After being given up on by the Blues and Sabres, it seemed like he was a great fit with the Islanders, and we really are not sure why he has not been signed yet.  It may be the lingering questions about his defence and his consistency that have plagued him throughout his career, or it may be that Boyes is currently asking for more money than teams are willing to offer.  At some point though, somethings gotta give and he’ll get another chance to put up points in the NHL.

Mason Raymond, Vancouver Canucks
2012-13 Salary (before being Pro-Rated): $2.275 Million Cap Hit: $2.275 million.
2012-13 Stats: 46 GP, 10 G, 12 A, 22 PTS, 16 PIMs,

Raymond is a tremendous skater off the wing who has been versatile enough to play some centre on a short term basis as well.  Still he is best suited to the wing.  Can play a two way game and kill penalties.  Raymond has good hands and a good shot, but somehow his offence always leaves you wanting more, as though he doesn’t get the maximum production out of the tools he is blessed with.

Damien Brunner, Detroit Red Wings,
2012-13 Salary (before being Pro-Rated): $0.925 million + $0.425 million bonuses Cap Hit: $2.275 million.
2012-13 Stats: 46 GP, 10 G, 12 A, 22 PTS, 16 PIMs,

The undersized Swiss skater signed with Detroit last year and proved he has offensive skill in his first NHL season.  He is a good skater, with good stickhandling and underated shot and playmaking ability.  Brunner can provide offense, but questions about his size and defensive game remain.  A log jam at forward after adding Weiss and Alfredsson, along with Tomas Tatar ready to make the NHL, the Wings are allowing Brunner to move on.

 

Others: Brenden Morrow, Vinny Prospal, Dustin Penner, Simon Gagne, Peter Mueller, Guillaime Latendresse, Danny Cleary

 

Defence

Ron Hainsey, Winnipeg Jets
2012-13 Salary (before being pro-rated): $3 million  Cap Hit $4.5 million
2012-13 Stats: 48 GP, 0 G, 13 A, 13 PTS, 10 PIMs, -8, 22:51 TOI per game

The 32-year-old Hainsey has really seen his game evolve over the years.  Once thought of as a slick skating, puck-moving, powerplay quarterback type of offensive defenceman he has really improved his defensive game as the offence has waned.  He is still very mobile and has good size and reach to play a defensive game.  He’s still not physical though, and people shouldn’t expect that despite the fact he’s listed at 6’3″ 210 lbs.  Still he can play all situations and eat up a lot of minutes in the top four of someone’s blueline.  He’s a left-handed shot who can play both right and left defence.  Hainsey’s role in the NHL’s CBA negotiations was well documented, and we hope that is not the reason he has not yet signed a contract, as he has proven that he can still be an effective NHL defenceman.

Ryan Whitney, Edmonton Oilers
2012-13 Salary (before being pro-rated): $5.5 million  Cap Hit $4.0 million
2012-13 Stats: 34 GP, 4 G, 9 A, 13 PTS, 23 PIMs, -7, 18:28 TOI per game

30 year old Whitney fell out of favour with Oilers coach Ralph Krueger last season, and was often a healthy scratch. Prior to that he had foot issues which cost him time and the injury question mark may be part of the reason he is still on the market.  Recurring foot issues have been a problem.  He never became the number 1 defenceman the Oilers wanted when he was acquired from Anaheim.  However Whitney is still a good offensive contributor, who is a strong skater (when healthy) and puck mover, and also has good passing and shooting skills to quarterback the powerplay.  He can be soft defensively though, and has a tendency to have brain cramps in his own end.

 Marek Zidlicky, New Jersey Devils
2012-13 Salary (before being pro-rated): $4 million  Cap Hit $3 million
2012-13 Stats: 48 GP, 4 G, 15 A, 19 PTS, 38 PIMs, -12, 20:59 TOI per game

The 36-year-old veteran defender is also more well known for his offensive skills than his defensive skills. While he has lost a half-step in recent years, he still has good mobility, and can move the puck on the rush.  He also is very good on the powerplay with crisp passing and an underrated shot.  However Zidlicky has never been great in his own end of the ice, where he can be prone to bad giveaways at times, or being overpowered by bigger stronger defencemen.  Age and defensive concerns seem to be what have slowed his signing.

Toni Lydman, Anaheim Ducks
2012-13 Salary (before being pro-rated): $3 million  Cap Hit $3 million
2012-13 Stats: 36 GP, 0 G, 6 A, 6 PTS, 12 PIMs, -1, 19:23 TOI per game

The 35-year-old has been an excellent mentor to the young defencemen on the Ducks blueline.  He’s a defence first player who gets by with outstanding positioning and hockey sense, good mobility, a quick and active stick, a solid first pass that gets the puck moving quickly, and a bit of grit in front of his net and in the corners.  Lydman is vnot flashy, but he gets the job done defensively.  Another issue where age may be scaring teams off and he’ll need a 35+ contract.

Ian White, Detroit Red Wings
2012-13 Salary (before being pro-rated): $2.75 million  Cap Hit $2.875 million
2012-13 Stats: 25 GP, 2 G, 2 A, 4 PTS, 4 PIMs, +5, 19:35 TOI per game

The 29-year-old White is another undersized offensive defenceman.  He fell out of favour in Detroit due to some poor giveaways in his own end of the ice, and his inability to handle big, strong forwards.  However he still has offensive skills and is good at skating the puck out of danger and making good crisp passes on the breakout (most of the time), or in the offensive zone.  White is young enough that some team will likely give him the opportunity to play on their blue line, they just need to agree on the right price.

Others: Douglas Murray, Tomas Kaberle, Filip Kuba, Greg Zanon, Joe Corvo, Hal Gill, Ryan O’Byrne, Mark Fistric, Wade Redden,

 

Goalies

Tim Thomas, New York Islanders
2012-13 Salary (before being Pro-Rated): $3 Million (was not paid, suspended by the team for not reporting).  Cap Hit: $5 million.
2012-13 Stats: DNP.
2011-12 Stats: 35-19-1, 2.36 GAA, .920 Save Percentage

Tim Thomas sat out the entire season, saying that he needed a break from the NHL.  However, it would appear that he is ready to return, as reports indicate that he has told his agent to seek out offers once teams are allowed to contact free agents later this week.  Thomas was playing at an elite level before taking the hiatus, with a Conn Smythe Trophy win in 2011, and Vezina trophies in 2011 and 2009.   However, he recently turned 39, and by the time October rolls around will have spent a full 18 months without seeing NHL action.  The question remains if he will still be at that elite level, especially since he plays a very unorthodox style that relies on his reflexes and never quit attitude.  These questions are likely keeping teams from offering Thomas the contract he’s looking for.

Ilya Bryzgalov, Philadelphia Flyers
2012-13 Salary (before being Pro-Rated): $6.5 Million Cap Hit: $5.667 million.
2012-13 Stats: 19-17-3, 2.79 GAA, .900 Save Percentage.

Paul Holmgren has admitted that he made a mistake when he gave Bryzgalov a 9 year $51 deal in the 2011 NHL Free Agent Frenzy.  The 33-year old Russian netminder was recently bought out by the Flyers under the amnesty buyout provisions of the new CBA.  This ensures the Flyers will be paying Bryzgalov $23 million over the next 14 years (or until the end of the 2026-27 NHL season).  Bryzgalov may not have worked out in Philly, but his play in Phoenix proved that he was once a goalie who was amongst the NHL’s best.  A team may be willing to take a chance on Bryzgalov regaining that form with a short term, low money deal.  While Bryzgalov will have to weigh that option against returning to the KHL for what will likely be more money, the Flyers buyout payments may mean that he does not really need a contract that is “humongous big”.  With most teams having their starting goalie situation set by now, would Bryzgalov take a job as a backup or head to the KHL.

Jose Theodore, Florida Panthers
2012-13 Salary (before being Pro-Rated): $1.5 Million Cap Hit: $1.5 million.
2012-13 Stats: 4-6-3, 3.29 GAA, .893 Save Percentage.

It seems a lifetime ago that Jose Theodore was a Hart and Vezina trophy winner with the Montreal Canadiens.  One might even say that it is a long time ago that Theodore was backstopping the Panthers to a Southeast Division title and pushing the New Jersey Devils to 7 games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but that was just 1 year ago in the 2011-12 NHL season.  Theodore struggled out of the gate in 2012-13, before a knee injury basically killed his season.  He’s still a serviceable goalie, but the 36-year-old is on the downward slope of his NHL career.  How many years he has left is the question here.  He may need to take a role as a backup goalie, or a platoon, like he did in Minnesota in the 2010-11 season.  He’ll also have to prove he is healthy and ready to go.

 

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