Free agency is over right? Wrong! Some teams are still playing the waiting game and some decent mid-levels players are still not signed as we get close to the start of the preseason. Need a Penalty Kill guy? There are a few waiting by their phones for a a good offer. Want a player or two that will play for a cheap contract for a year or two? I found a butt-load of them. Some older guys who can still play at the NHL level and provide leadership or character? Plenty of those players too. So who is still on the market that I would consider picking up if I was a GM?
Eric Belanger: It does not look like the Capitals are going to Belanger back, and that is a bad move in my eyes. Part of that has to do with their cap situation. But Belanger is still only 32 and has plenty of experience and ability for a guy that could be a solid #3 center. A player that can be a 15 goal, 35-40 point guy and play very well in PK situations and can be physical. If I was a GM, I would consider him strongly as I think he can be had for about $1.5-2.0 million.
Jose Theodore: Seriously, he is still on the market??? I know he is getting up there in age and his best years are behind him….maybe way behind him, but he played himself into the spotlight in Washington last season and stepped in when the young Varlamov was having problems. He might not be able to replicate the 33 win and .911 save percentage season he had last season, but he could be a solid back-up or maybe a 1B type guy if the team has an average starter. Not anything stellar, but could be a solid back-up. The issue might be convincing him to become a back-up or convincing him that he will get the playing time he may want.
Owen Nolan: Here is a old guy that still has some in the tank. A former big-time name and captain, Nolan still scored 16 goals last year and was a solid player for Minnesota. He was holding out to go back to his old team, but the Sharks do not seem interested in bringing back the one time captain and top scorer. So now we could see him return to the Wild, if not I think he would be a solid 2nd or 3rd line RW for a team that thinks they could go to the playoffs and wants a little bit more depth and firepower. I would consider him, especially since he would probably sign for $700,000 to $1 million.
Marc-Andre Bergeron: Another guy that surprises me with the fact that he is still a free agent. He is often criticized for lacking somewhat in his own zone, but he is not horrible. What his forte is though is that he can be a power-play beast. He is a 10-15 goal scorer from the point with a canon shot, and can be counted for a good 30-40 points. Defensively I would not put him on the PK a bunch, but he could be a good 4th or 5th Dman who can quarterback a 2nd PP unit or even take minutes with the top unit. Plus he is still only 29, meaning unlike most guys on this list he is still in the middle of his career. Plus he made under $1 million last season and looked solid most of the times I saw him in Montreal. I think someone brings him in during pre-season or at least before the season gets under way.
Brendan Morrison: Another quality center that I think a few teams could use. He is good in the face-off circle, can play PK minutes if needed and still can put up some points. He had 42 points last season and 34 of those happened at even strength, which is nice for a probably 3rd line center. If a team can’t get Belanger for any reason but wants him, then Morrison would be a solid 2nd option as they are very similar players.
Maxim Afinogenov: Need some possible scoring punch? You might be able to turn to Maxim. The long-time Buffalo Sabre was able to put up 61 points in Atlanta last season. The question with Afinogenov is what will you get out of him. He has had a couple of seasons of points in the +60 points range, but there have also been seasons of just 20-30 points. But he could be worth the risk for a season or two considering he has been in his career a good 2nd line winger at times and can bring PP and even strength offense to a team. If he can stay healthy then a team might make a gamble and get a big reward for it.
Thanks for the read folks, and get pumped because hockey season is about to start! As always, you can follow me on Twitter (Twitter.com/blackoutdallas) and my regular work on the Dallas Stars at Blackoutdallas.com.