No, Arron Asham is not the best of the unsigned Unrestricted Free Agents, although teams could do alot worse than a gritty guy who played a part on a Stanley Cup finalist and can chip in 10 to 15 goals. Especially when he can be had for around a million per year. Assuming Ilya Kovalchuk is going to New Jersey, or Moscow, or Reykjavik...the following are the best of the rest.
Perhaps the best two remaining defenders may not play another game due to concussion issues. Neither Kim Johnsson or Willie Mitchell have come close to getting a clean bill of health. If either of them do, they would be highly sought after by teams with cap room (are there any really?). Mike Mottau, Ruslan Salei, Andy Sutton, Randy Jones, Shaone Morrisonn, Freddy Meyer, Andreas Lilja, Paul Mara and Marc-Andre Bergeron. Each is more than capable of filling the role of depth defenseman or powerplay specialist. Perhaps these are the kind of guys to find a larger role by signing in Europe as Denis Grebeshkov and Brian Pothier have done in the last few days.
The Elder Statsemen
Perhaps the top free agent remaining is Teemu Selanne who at 39 scored at almost a point per game clip last season. Paul Kariya had a bit of a comeback at 35 with 18 goals and 43 points, and most importantly, 75 games played. He could fill the role of third liner on a contender or veteran mentor on a re-building squad. Bill Guerin at 39 is in the same boat as Kariya although it's doubtful his 21 goals will be replicated without Crosby as his middleman. 38 year old Owen Nolan played a full season and still showed he could pot the odd goal, collecting 16.
40 year old Mike Modano may very well wrap up his fine career in Detroit and 37 year old Cup winner John Madden is still has some miles left. Robert Lang, Scott Walker, Fredrik Modin, Miro Satan, Craig Conroy, Darcy Tucker and Jere Lehtinen are all on the wrong side of 35 and would all be fair bets to be a late in camp one year signing or perhaps even retire.
Marty Turco and Jose Theodore were both number one goaltenders on their respective teams for long stretches last year and both put up better than average numbers. Neither is even 35 years old yet but one thing for certain, they will not be making 5.7 and 4.5 million respectively next year. Another near lock is that a team will take a chance on the enigmatic still only 27 year old Ray Emery, who at a million or so dollars may prove worthwhile of a gamble.
The Young and Forgotten
There are some very intriguing names out there that are sure to find homes once the ball gets rolling again. Lee Stempniak at only 27 will be a nice mid-level scorer for relatively cheap.
Maxim Afinogenov who had a career high 24 goals last year will be had for even cheaper than Stempy. Eric Belanger is 32 and had a career high 41 points last year. He'll find a home sooner than later. Marek Svatos is only 28 and wore out his welcome in Colorado with a truly awful season. He would be a fair bet to return to the 25 goal level with a change of scenery. 28 year old Raffi Torres is coveted by many teams after scoring a gritty 19 goals, but will still not make near his 2.25 million of last year. Dominic Moore should parlay a nice playoff into a contract before training camps start. Ruslan Fedotenko is another of the log jam looking for jobs although his -17 rating for the Pens may scare some interest away. The under-appreciated Kyle Wellwood who at 27 seems to have settled in nicely as a solid third-liner and at around a million per year is a nice pick up.