Free Agent Check-Up: Who’s Left?


As we get ready to flip the calenders to August the offseason is winding down and we have got to the point that we are beginning to see what each team is going to look like heading into next season. There are quite a few players out there right now that will have homes within the next few weeks or possibly days in Shane Doan’s case. There are still many players sitting out in free agency that could be useful pieces to teams looking for minor, but solid additions to their squad. The list of forwards remaining contains mostly role players and veteran types who would be brought in more for their intangibles rather than production, but in that crop there are a few very intriguing names. As for the defensemen left there are a few second pairing type defensemen as well as a lot of veteran third pairing d-men. The market is jam packed with many odds and ends defensemen. One trick ponies. Shot blockers or hard shooters or decent puck movers. Most could still upgrade a teams second or third pairing though.

On the offensive side the biggest prize left on the market is Shane Doan. It looks like his decision will come down pretty soon as he was scheduled to meet with the possible new Yotes owners today. That meeting may not have any impact on his decision, but rather just a formality. If this prospective owner does indeed purchase the team I don’t think Doan is going anywhere unless of course he finds some fatal flaws in his direction he would like to take the team.

Jason Arnott the spunky 37 year old veteran still sits out on the market also. I believe he will find a team before the offseason concludes as his veteran leadership is worth the price of admission. Sure he’s nowhere near the goal scoring force he once was, but given that he has 400 NHL goals under his belt he can still put the puck in the net just not as consistently as before. He’ll flirt with 20 goals and 40 points, but can be a great addition for a young team. He worked out brilliantly for the Blues last season.

Mike Knuble is yet another savvy veteran forward on the market. Coming off a brutal season where he dropped from 24 goals in 2010-11 to 6 last season. He had tons of trouble with Caps coaching and couldn’t get his bearings. He was even benched and scratched a few times last season. I still think Mike can be a force on the powerplay and like Doan would be great veteran leadership for any team. I would not mind the Flyers giving him a look if the Doan situation doesn’t pan out.

Tomas Holmstrom is one of the less talked about names this offseason, but with the Parises and Doans of the world on the market this year its understandable. Tomas’s offensive capabilities have dropped off significantly over the past few seasons. Last season he had just 24 points in 74 games with just 11 goals. I believe his biggest asset he has left to offer teams is his powerplay capabilities. He is a rock in front of the net whether he scores on a deflection or rebound or just provides a screen he is always causing chaos for the netminder. Again with Holmstrom like the other forwards on the market his intangibles are also an asset for any team looking to add a top 6 forward.

Petr Sykora was a surprise addition to the Devils out of training camp last season and didn’t disappoint. He posted a 21/23/44 stat line last season. He proved he can still contribute and played in all 82 games last season as well. This veteran goal scorer has 1,017 NHL games under his belt so he knows his way around the rink and has a couple of championships to boot. Any team looking for additional scoring depth should definitely give Sykora a look.

On the defensive side the cream of the crop left is Carlo Colaiacovo. He is not the answer for any team looking for a serious upgrade in their defense, but he is a good complimentary addition to a teams defensive corps. With10 NHL seasons under his belt you would think he would be a more enamored free agent, but unfortunately he has not proven he can be a consistent force on the blue line. Most of his issues came because of injury as in the last 3 or 4 seasons he has dealt with concussion, knee and hand injuries. One particularly embarrassing injury of his came in January 2006 when he missed  a hipcheck and slammed headfirst into the boards. He subsequently had to be carried off the ice in a stretcher. He suffered a major concussion and missed the rest of that season, but then injured his hand on the his first game back next season. Yes the term injury prone comes to mind here. IF he can stay healthy he is a good depth signing for a team.If the Flyers do trade a defensemen in a deal for Bobby Ryan I would look for them to sign Carlo.

Jaroslav Spacek is a big shot blueliner who is a plus 64 the last seven seasons combined. Also a reliable a defender he would be a great addition to a team looking to sign a second or third pairing defensemen. Unfortunately his big shot does not translate into many points as his stat line last season was 5/10/15. He has never been a big point producer though as his career high is just 37 in 2008-09 with Buffalo. He has a lot of playoff experience though and can quarterback a powerplay. He does have some trouble staying healthy though and being that he is 38 I don’t see that changing any time soon.

Milan Jurcina is coming off a horrendous season for the New York Islanders. The 29 year old defensemen has had a very up and down career so far. He has a big shot, but can not quarterback a powerplay. He is a serviceable third pairing defensemen, but nothing more.

Brett Clark had a large drop off in point totals last season. He went from 31 in 2010-11 to just 15 last season. He is a heart soul type defensemen though as he gives it all on the ice. That is proven by his 199 blocked shots last season. Can be a very adequate third pairing defensemen and has not had much of an issue staying healthy in his career thus far.

Goaltenders are even more scarce on the free agent market right now. Dan Ellis caps off the very unimpressive market being the most reliable back-up of the bunch. He is a veteran netminder and has even pushed starting goalies out their job a few times. He could never hold down a starting job though which is why he has been a back-up his whole professional career. Injury caused him to miss a lot of time last season. If he is healthy he is solid back-up, but he is 32 so I would expect injury problems to begin creeping up a lot more often.

Behind Ellis the market dies off big time. Brent Johnson is 35 and coming off an injury and has had declining numbers for the last few years (but he did punch Rick Dipietro in the face a couple years ago), Ty Conklin lost his back-up job in Detroit last season and is 36, Dwayne Roloson had the worst season of his career last year and is 42. As I said as thin as paper in that selection.

-John LaMarra

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