More than a month after the Free Agency period opened, there are still a number of names out there on the NHL’s list of unrestricted free agents. Most of the names are minor league or 4th line players, but there are some interesting names still out there that could contribute to the upper end of a roster in the short term, since most are aging players whose best days are behind them. This doesn’t mean that they are finished, however, and they still should have some stuff to give.
Here are my top 10 remaining UFAs:
10. Steve Bernier – (26, FLA) – At 6’2″, 225 lbs, Bernier should have better numbers than he has shown. He is still young enough to benefit a team that takes a flyer on him. He is a good skater and has shown good hands at times, but problems in putting the package together has resulted in the former 1st round pick moving around plenty in previous years.
9. Ryan Johnson – (36, CHI) – After being a late signing last season, Johnson latched on with Chicago and played up to expectations: to be a speedy fourth line centre who can win faceoffs, block shots and shut down opposing players. He is a heart and soul player that you can expect will give an all out effort every night and will not break the bank.
8. Bryan McCabe – (36, NYR) – The aging blueliner is not the offensive dynamo he once was, but he can still quarterback a power play and opposing teams must respect his shot. McCabe will have to take a pay cut from his $5.75 M cap hit, but if he wants to play he should be able to find a job. He is still at the level where he would be a contributor on a nightly basis.
7. Anton Stralman – (25, CBJ) – A player still not quite in his prime, Stralman has talent but has trouble with consistency. Over a full season he has the abiltiy to play 20 minutes a night and will give you 25-30 points from the blue line. Rumoured to be headed to Sweden, but is still holding out hopes of landing an NHL deal.
6. Scott Hannan – (32, WAS) – Hannan won’t be confused with a puck-mover or offensive defenseman, but he is a solid defensive, responsible blueliner who can play an in-your-face style. While the days of the $4.5 M (the amount he made last year) defensive defenseman are over, Hannan could still be an impact top-4 player and reliable penalty killer on many teams in the NHL.
5. Chris Campoli – (27, CHI) – The Blackhawks walked away from the $2.5 M arbitrator’s award, making Campoli an unrestricted free agent late in the game. Campoli, in the right situation, can show a flair for the offensive while still being a good but not great defenseman. At age 27 should be entering his prime and has shown that he is indeed a legitimate NHL blueliner.
4. Rob Schremp (25, WPG) – Defensive liabilities aside, there are few players as good with the puck as Schremp. A team that is expected to be on the fringe of a playoff spot might consider adding Schremp simply for his potential shootout ability. He is pure offense who needs to get a consistent shot at a scoring role. Could be considered as a power play/shootout specialist.
3. Cory Stillman (37, CAR) – Stillman has had problems playing a full season lately, but can fit in a top 6 role when in the lineup. The veteran leader could still put up 55-60 points in a full season. At 37, is likely nearing the tail end of his career, but on a 1 year deal could be a nice investment for a team still below the cap floor.
2. Sergei Samsonov (32, FLA) – Samsonov is another enigmatic Russian who can be stellar one night, and the next you aren’t even sure he was in the lineup. However, he does have the ability and skill to put up points, as his 14 points in 20 games with Florida after the trade from Carolina last season would indicate. At 32 he could still be considered to be in the prime of his career.
1. Teemu Selanne (41, ANH) – The oldest and best player on this list, Teemu will be making his decision in September whether or not he wants to return. By all reports if he does chose to play another season, it will be with the Ducks only, so other teams can only sit by and watch. The ageless Selanne scored 31 goals and 80 points last season, which shows that he can still definitely play in a top 6 role.
The free agents that remain are a varied group, and outside of Selanne, there isn’t much guaranteed offense. However there are still a number of players who can contribute to an NHL roster, it is just a matter of finding a fit. As far as the Senators are concerned, I don’t think there is really a fit that would meet Ottawa’s needs at the NHL level. Other than scooping Selanne up, which would be a completely shocking coup, don’t expect Bryan Murray to add any of these names.
Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
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