As summer fast approaches, most players are enjoying a precious few weeks of relaxation after a long hard season. General Managers however, are beginning to gear up to take a run at potential free agents which can greatly improve a teams chances of winning a Cup long before the season even starts.
As of July 1st many players will hit the market trying to drive a hard bargain while GM’s do their best sales jobs trying to convince each one that their team is the place to be. This years list of available players is very impressive as many teams who were close to making a Cup run this past season may be able to get over the hump this season with a key addition or two.
Notable Players available by position
Center: Mats Sundin, Joe Sakic, Saku Koivu, Robert Lang, Mike Cammalleri, Henrik Sedin
Perhaps the two most interesting centers available still have to decide if they are going to play next season or retire. If Sakic returns it will be with the Avalanche but the Mats Sundin sweepstakes could start up again in the near future. Lets hope it doesn’t drag on until Christmas again this time around.
Lang and Cammalleri will be demanding more money this season and so will Henrik Sedin who likely will have to come in a package deal with his brother Daniel. This isn’t going to be easy for any team to swing. Cammalleri coming off a breakout season may be the most attractive option.
Possible bargains: John Madden, Samuel Pahlsson
Both will most likely fly under the radar but each is a great two way player who can help you win immediately.
Left Wing: Alex Tanguay, Erik Cole, Daniel Sedin
As mentioned earlier Daniel will have to come with Henrik so only a team with a lot of money and cap space will have that option. Tanguay has never quite regained the form he had with Colorado, most likely because he was surrounding by tremendous talent there. He would be a nice edition to a team already with tremendous depth. This way he doesn’t have to be the main guy.
Surprisingly Erik Cole may be the best choice as he should be the cheapest of the 3 and has tremendous speed and can play in any system. Still only 30 years old as well.
Possible bargains: Jere Lehtinen, P.J. Axelsson
Lehtinen, a two time Selke winner, is a force at both ends of the ice when healthy. P.J. Axelsson simply may be one of the most under rated players in the league. Extremely versatile player both offensively and defensively.
Right Wing: Marian Gaborik, Marian Hossa, Martin Havlat, Alexei Kovalev
Gaborik and Hossa are two elite players with size and speed. Would be worth a big payout and should pay dividends immediately. Wouldn’t put Havlat up there with the Marian’s but he is very close. Only knock on him would be he is very injury prone and hasn’t been able to stay healthy in Chicago.
Kovalev is certainly a gamble but it could payoff big time. When he wants to play there is nobody better, however when he is uninterested it can really hurt the team. Montreal knows this all too well as he was even benched for a few games last season.
Possible bargains: Brian Gionta, Mikael Samuelsson, Maxim Afinogenov
Samuelsson doesn’t get much press in Detroit but he is an impact player. He can play the point on the power play as well which is key. Gionta and Afinogenov have had great seasons in the past so if the price is right it may be wise to take a chance.
Defense: Scott Niedermayer, Jay Bouwmeester, Mattias Ohlund, Mike Komisarek
Niedermayer and Bouwmeester are very similar players in the sense that they both skate and move the puck tremendously well. Bouwmeester has the edge simply because he is much younger and should have more people interested.
Ohlund and Komisarek are cut from the same cloth as well as they are both tough and physical players. Both men are built for playoff hockey.
Possible bargains: Rob Blake, Adrian Aucoin
Blake is at the end of his career but can still play high quality minutes, while Aucoin is a tremendous power play quarterback that can help any team in that area.
Goalie: Nikolai Khabibulin, Dwayne Roloson
Khabibulin proved this post season he still has it and is one of the premier goalies in the game. Roloson is pushing 40 but played incredible down the stretch for the Oilers and was the really the only reason they stayed in the playoff hunt.
Possible bargains: Martin Biron
A little unproven but could be a nice upgrade for a team in desperate need of a #1 goalie.
Let the spending begin!