From The Point: An early look at the 2007 UFAs
Only three Ducks of consequence are eligible for unrestricted free agency: goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere, right winger Teemu Selanne and defenseman Sean O'Donnell. With backup Ilya Bryzgalov seemingly ready to start, Ducks GM Brian Burke has some leverage in negotiations with Giguere (who made $4 million in 2006-07). Selanne, we can only assume, will give Anaheim an adopted hometown discount and be back quacking next season.
With eight or nine regulars facing UFA freedom, the Thrashers have some decisions to make. Up front, longtime Thrasher passer Slava Kozlov and trade deadline pickup Keith Tkachuk are the big names, while Andy Sutton headlines the handful of defenders.
The good news is, the Bruins lineup won't be affected by unrestricted free agency. The bad news is, the Bruins lineup won't be affected by unrestricted free agency.
Yes, yes, we've all heard the news that Sabres centers Chris Drury and Daniel Briere can test the UFA waters on July 1. And so can another Sabres center, too: Dainius Zubrus, who was obtained in March from Washington.
It shouldn't be a surprise that a team top-heavy with defensemen might lose a couple of them. Dion Phaneuf's blueline partner, veteran Roman Hamrlik, and hard-hitting Brad Stuart, the No. 3 overall pick in 1998, both are free to shop their wares July 1.
Nobody signed Anson Carter after he scored 33 goals playing with the Sedins in Vancouver in 2005-06 Â– OK, OK, Columbus eventually did, but Carter was on the open market for months Â– so who's going to sign him after a forgettable '06-07 season in which he scored 11 goals in 64 games and was a healthy scratch down the stretch (for a non-playoff team)?
There's not much to lose, and center Michal Handzus may re-sign. The Hawks are chock-full of promising prospects, but they don't have much up front in the way of proven scorers beyond Martin Havlat. Veteran leadership is desperately needed everywhere.
Fortunately for Joe Sakic and Co., the free agent exodus out of Denver appears to be over. There've been heavy losses in recent years Â– Peter Forsberg, Rob Blake and Adam Foote, for starters Â– but the Avs should be buyers, not sellers, this summer.
For most NHL teams, losing blueliners Bryan Berard and Anders Eriksson wouldn't be a big deal. But Columbus, which has lost more games than any other team since the lockout ended two years ago, can still only dream of reaching the heights of Â“most NHL teams.Â”
Eric Lindros and Darryl Sydor are the names most people recognize first, but the star Star UFA is left winger Ladislav Nagy, an offensive talent who fell out of favor in Phoenix and spent the second half of the '06-07 season in Dallas.
A few short years ago, Todd Bertuzzi and Robert Lang were enjoying career breakout seasons. That time has passed. In fact, UFAs such as defensemen Mathieu Schneider and Danny Markov will probably generate more interest. Not to mention, the annual Dominik Hasek Â“Will he or won't he?Â” watch.
Sniping winger Petr Sykora and defenseman Daniel Tjarnqvist are the two best Oilers up for grabs. The real UFA question in Edmonton, though, is whether the Oilers will take a run at Ryan Smyth.
Ed Belfour, anyone?
If depth defensemen is your need, the Kings' Jaroslav Modry and Aaron Miller are available. Mathieu Garon is one of the few intriguing goalies on the market.
Wild center Todd White doesn't get much ink, but the 32-year-old provides secondary scoring in the 20-goal, 50-point range.
All eyes are on big shooter Sheldon Souray, who fired 26 goals last year, mostly on the power play.
Peter Forsberg, Paul Kariya, Kimmo Timonen are impact players and UFA-eligible on July 1. The most interesting Pred, though, is 25-year-old winger Scott Hartnell. He's a test case for the new CBA rule that allows players to become UFAs at the age of 25 if they've played seven pro seasons.
The Devils' No. 1 center, Scott Gomez, and No. 1 defenseman, Brian Rafalski, both are looking for new pacts.
There's a first line available, in Ryan Smyth, Jason Blake and newly bought-out Alexei Yashin, while defender Tom Poti re-established himself on the blueline. And two players carrying heavy suspensions also are looking for new deals Â– defenseman Sean Hill (20 games for banned substances) and winger Chris Simon (25 games for cross-checking the Rangers' Ryan Hollweg in the face).
Brendan Shanahan, at 38, still has 40-goal potential and power forward panache.
Mike Comrie and Tom Preissing will boost somebody's offense in 2007-08, but probably not Ottawa's.
Mike York? Robert Esche? Todd Fedoruk? The NHL's last-place team doesn't have much to lose.
If this was the summer of 1992, all eyes would be on Coyotes UFAs Curtis Joseph, Jeremy Roenick, Owen Nolan and Mike Ricci. (Reminder: It's 2007.)
Gary Roberts and Mark Recchi are fine veteran forwards who provided good examples for Crosby, Malkin and Staal. But if they play at all in 2007-08, don't look for them in Pittsburgh.
There's a few depth forwards available Â– Glen Metropolit, Ville Nieminen, Radek Dvorak Â– but you're not going to strike it rich picking the Blues' bones.
Craig Rivet and Scott Hannan still are very capable D-men and veteran shooter Bill Guerin proved in 2006-07 that he has game left, too.
Someone might roll the dice on feisty, speedy winger Ruslan Fedotenko. He scored 12 goals in 22 playoff games when the Bolts won the Cup in 2004; then again, he had 12 goals in 80 games in a washout of a year this season.
Mike Peca and Yanic Perreault would look good centering most teams' third and fourth lines, respectively.
A lot of Canucks are up for UFA-dom, but the quantity overwhelms the quality. Defenseman Brent Sopel is the best of the bunch.
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the only UFA Capital of them all?
Sam McCaig's From The Point appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Have a point to make with Sam McCaig? You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.