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The Hockey News’s top unrestricted free agents

Marian Hossa, Brian Campbell and Cristobal Huet are THN's top UFAs at their position. (Getty Images)

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Marian Hossa, Brian Campbell and Cristobal Huet are THN's top UFAs at their position. (Getty Images)

The NHL’s silly season is on the verge of opening its doors to those holding a golden ticket: Salary cap room.

Sure, this year’s crop of NHLers looking for work won’t have fans holding their breath until their faces turn blue, but hey, there are still some names who will go a long way in helping put your team on its journey for a Stanley Cup imprint.

Below is The Hockey News’s ranking of the best available unrestricted free agents by position. Included is a quick hit on what the player has to offer, THN’s projected salary and which team’s are rumored to be interested in purchasing their services.

FORWARDS
1. Marian Hossa (signed one-year, $7.4 million deal with Detroit)
There were rumblings the Pens would make a strong pitch to lock up Hossa with a long-term deal and that he’d be an eager listener. He’s the best UFA in a shallow pool. A long-term, $8-million-per-year deal is possible.
AGENT Ritch Winter
PROJECTED SALARY $7.5 million
KEY INFO Led all scorers in third round (nine points) and final (seven).
RUMORED DESTINATIONS Tampa Bay, New York Rangers, Montreal, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Vancouver, Chicago, Boston, San Jose

2. Mats Sundin
It looks like the Leafs’ captain will test the market. If he does, expect a top team with a lot of cap room like, say, Detroit, to make a serious inquiry.
AGENT J.P. Barry   
PROJECTED SALARY $6 million
KEY INFO Plus-17 was third-best of his career and best since 1998-99.
RUMORED DESTINATIONS Montreal, New York Rangers, Florida, Detroit

3. Brian Rolston (signed four-year, $25.25 million deal with New Jersey)
More coveted now than he would’ve been five years ago, Rolston is a legitimate 30-goal scorer who can both create offense and kill penalties.
AGENT Steve Bartlett
PROJECTED SALARY $4 million
KEY INFO Led Wild forwards in ice time in regular season.
RUMORED DESTINATIONS Tampa Bay, Vancouver, Florida, New York Rangers, Columbus, Pittsburgh, Boston

4. Ryan Malone (signed seven year, $31.5 million deal with Tampa Bay)
He was crying at his stall after the Pens lost in the final, which indicates he might be preparing to leave his hometown. Columbus covets both Malone and Brooks Orpik and could either make a play for both in free agency or trade for them to have exclusive negotiating rights before July 1.
AGENT Mike Liut
PROJECTED SALARY $4.5 million
KEY INFO Eleven power play goals this season, third-most on the Penguins.
RUMORED DESTINATIONS Columbus, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Vancouver, Florida, Boston, New York Rangers, Toronto

5. Sean Avery (signed four-year, $15.5 million deal with Dallas)
All he does is help his team win and since most teams like doing that, a number of them will be willing to wildly overpay him. The only problem is his salary next year is bound to create unrealistic expectations.
AGENT Pat Morris   
PROJECTED SALARY $4 million
KEY INFO Rangers went 33-24-10 with him in the lineup, 9-13-3 without him.
RUMORED DESTINATIONS Dallas, New York Rangers, Toronto

6. Jaromir Jagr (signed with Russia's Avangard Omsk)
The most serious competition for Jagr might come from overseas. He played for Omsk during the lockout and has expressed a desire to return. If he does play in the NHL, can the Rangers afford to devote more than $28 million in cap space to Chris Drury, Scott Gomez, Henrik Lundqvist and Jagr?
AGENT J.P. Barry       
PROJECTED SALARY $5 million
KEY INFO 26 goals was the lowest output of his career.
RUMORED DESTINATIONS New York Rangers

7. Kristian Huselius (signed four-year, $19 million deal with Columbus)
Expected to wilt under Mike Keenan, Huselius had one of his best seasons. (It helped he played with Jarome Iginla and Daymond Langkow.) With Calgary committed to Langkow, there’s not much room for Huselius.
AGENT Don Meehan   
PROJECTED SALARY $4.5 million
KEY INFO Huselius had 39 points on the road, 27 at home this season.
RUMORED DESTINATIONS Atlanta, Calgary, Chicago, Minnesota, Pittsburgh

8. Jay Pandolfo (re-signed three-year, $7.5 million deal with New Jersey)
One of the NHL’s premier defensive players, he could continue the New Jersey exodus this summer. Has scored in double figures in each of the past three seasons and remains an elite penalty-killer.
AGENT Robert Murray
PROJECTED SALARY $2.25 million
KEY INFO Effectiveness was limited as Devils were 26th in times shorthanded.
RUMORED DESTINATIONS New Jersey

9. Pavol Demitra (signed two-year, $8 million deal with Vancouver)
Teams that might be scared off by his propensity for injury won’t be encouraged by the 14 games he missed this season, most of them with a groin injury that affected his speed. He benefited from playing with Marian Gaborik.
AGENT No representation   
PROJECTED SALARY $3 million
KEY INFO .79 points per game this year, his lowest as a full-time NHLer.
RUMORED DESTINATIONS Minnesota, Dallas, Florida, Tampa Bay, Vancouver

10. Niklas Hagman (signed four-year, $12 million deal with Toronto)
If it’s true he wants $4 million a season, there’s no way the Stars will re-sign him. 
AGENT Don Baizley
PROJECTED SALARY $3.1 million
KEY INFO 44 goals in past two years, more than the previous four combined.

DEFENSEMAN
1. Brian Campbell (signed eight-year, $56.8 million deal with Chicago)
The kind of puck-moving defenseman every good team needs – and he’s also reliable defensively – but the club that lands this UFA will pay a premium.
AGENT Larry Kelly
PROJECTED SALARY $7 million
KEY INFO Sharks went 16-2-2 with Campbell in the lineup.
RUMORED DESTINATIONS Boston, Montreal, Ottawa, Chicago, San Jose, Philadelphia, New York Rangers, Toronto

2. Wade Redden (signed six-year, $39 million deal with Rangers)
Has struggled in recent years, but remains an elite-level D-man. He’s not a No. 1 anymore and is more error-prone than he used to be, but he’s a good skater and plays well at both ends. A ticket out of Ottawa is inevitable.
AGENT Don Meehan   
PROJECTED SALARY $6.5 million
KEY INFO Ottawa’s top-scoring D-man in seven of the past eight seasons.
RUMORED DESTINATIONS New York Rangers, Carolina, Columbus, Chicago, Philadelphia, Florida, Edmonton

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3. Mark Streit (signed five-year, $20.5 million deal with Islanders)
A former power play specialist who has rounded out his game, Streit scored 13 goals this year to tie him with Michal Rozsival for most among defensemen in this summer’s UFA crop. Yet, he remains a minus player.
AGENT Pat Brisson   
PROJECTED SALARY $3.75 million
KEY INFO 165 shots, more than his first two seasons combined.
RUMORED DESTINATIONS Chicago, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, Carolina

4. Dmitri Kalinin (signed one-year deal with Rangers)
Buffalo’s chances of keeping Kalinin look slim. Like his team, Kalinin had a miserable season and was ravaged by injuries. That will affect his value, but he’s a good mid-level defenseman.
AGENT Jay Grossman
PROJECTED SALARY $2.5 million
KEY INFO Has missed 53 games in three seasons since the lockout.
RUMORED DESTINATIONS

5. Brad Stuart (re-signed four year, $15 million deal with Detroit)
Rescued from Los Angeles and a year removed from a rocky time in both Calgary and Boston, Stuart found a home in Detroit where not nearly as much was expected of him. Look for the cap-rich Wings to re-sign him.
AGENT Pat Brisson
PROJECTED SALARY $3 million
KEY INFO Only three players had more points than Stuart’s five in the Stanley Cup final.
RUMORED DESTINATIONS Detroit, Los Angeles, Toronto

6. Brooks Orpik (signed six-year, $22.5 million deal with Pittsburgh)
Has morphed from an error-prone defenseman with a penchant for taking bad penalties to a reliable defender who plays with a physical edge. Looking to at least double his salary, he might be leaving Pittsburgh.
AGENT Lewis Gross   
PROJECTED SALARY $3.25 million
KEY INFO Based on career output, he’s good for a goal every 74.3 games.
RUMORED DESTINATIONS Columbus, Edmonton, New York Rangers, Washington

7. Michal Rozsival (signed four-year, $20 million deal with Rangers)
Had hip surgery in June, but it’s not expected to keep him out of camp. He’s not overly physical, but has a good first pass and can be a top-four defenseman.
AGENT Ritch Winter
PROJECTED SALARY $4 million
KEY INFO 36 points and plus-15 per season in three years in New York.
RUMORED DESTINATIONS Chicago, San Jose.

8. John-Michael Liles (re-signed four year, $16.8 million deal with Colorado)
He had the lowest goal and point totals of his career, but remains a top puck-mover.
AGENT Joe Resnick
PROJECTED SALARY $4 million
KEY INFO Liles scored on just 3.7 percent of his shots this season.
RUMORED DESTINATIONS Colorado, Boston, Buffalo, Columbus, New Jersey, New York Islanders

9. Ron Hainsey (signed five-year, $22.5 million deal with Atlanta)
Proved he can be a top-four defender, albeit on one of the NHL’s weakest teams. Good mobility and can create offense, but doesn’t play as big as his size.
AGENT Matt Keator   
PROJECTED SALARY $1.8 million
KEY INFO All eight of Hainsey’s goals this year came on the power play.
RUMORED DESTINATIONS Columbus, Buffalo, Carolina, Chicago

10. Mike Commodore (signed five-year, $18.75 million deal with Columbus)
Commodore plays a simple, effective game that focuses almost entirely on defense. He never seemed to get on track in Ottawa; then again, who did?
AGENT Wade Arnott   
PROJECTED SALARY $3 million
KEY INFO Second in ice time among Sens defensemen in the playoffs.
RUMORED DESTINATIONS

GOALIES
1. Cristobal Huet (signed four-year, $22.5-million deal with Chicago)
The key for the Caps will be to keep Huet on what looks like a promising roster. But can they afford to sign both him and Green to big money?
AGENT Steve Bartlett   
PROJECTED SALARY $4.8 million
KEY INFO Playoff GAA, save percentage not as good as regular season.
RUMORED DESTINATIONS Washington

2. Jose Theodore (signed two-year, $9 million contract with Washington)
His career was basically given up for dead, but he saved Colorado’s season.
AGENT Don Meehan
PROJECTED SALARY $4 million  
KEY INFO Career record: 183-197-40.
RUMORED DESTINATIONS Colorado

3. Ray Emery (signed one-year, $2 million deal with Russia's Atlant Mytishchi)
If he can get his off-ice issues sorted out, Emery could regain form as a legitimate No. 1 goalie.
AGENT J.P. Barry
PROJECTED SALARY $2 million
KEY INFO Had 33 wins in 2006-07.
RUMORED DESTINATIONS Tampa Bay, Chicago, Washington

4. Olaf Kolzig (signed one-year, $1.5 million deal with Tampa Bay)
Kolzig didn’t get sour when Huet was brought in and took over the starting role. Maybe he’ll embrace a backup role on a contender.
AGENT Art Breeze
PROJECTED SALARY $2 million
KEY INFO Last season’s .892 save percentage was his lowest since 1995-96.
RUMORED DESTINATIONS Ottawa, Los Angeles

5. Ty Conklin (signed one-year, $750,000 deal with Detroit)
Conklin carried the Penguins during a stretch in December and January when Marc-Andre Fleury was hurt and rejuvenated his career in the process.
AGENT Kurt Overhardt
PROJECTED SALARY $1.5 million
KEY INFO .923 save percentage was second best in the league.
RUMORED DESTINATIONS Ottawa

View a full list of each team's UFAs and RFAs HERE. And be sure to check out THN.com on July 1 for up-to-the-minute coverage and analysis of each big free agent signing starting at noon EST.

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