My Top NHL free agents
Here's a look at the top free agents available:
Marc Savard: In terms of production, Savard is the biggest point-producer on the open market this summer, coming off a career-best 97 points, good for ninth in NHL scoring. But he is a defensive liability and takes a boatload of bad penalties. He is also rumored to be looking for Olli Jokinen money, which is about $5 million annually. That's too much for most sensible GMs.
Patrik Elias: A true blue-chip, free-agent forward, the longtime New Jersey Devil will be as heavily courted as any forward in the marketplace. The Devils are desperate to retain his services, but there will be a push from the Czech-heavy Rangers, as well. There's also the persistent rumor he would like to play with close friend Martin Havlat, now in Ottawa.
Doug Weight: The classy veteran, who earned his first Stanley Cup ring in Carolina, is likely headed back to St. Louis.
Jay McKee: McKee's profile and his stock jumped dramatically during the Sabres' run to the seventh game of the Eastern Conference finals. As a result, he'll likely be too expensive for the Sabres, but look for the Rangers and possibly the Leafs to be interested.
Jaroslav Spacek: Unheralded until his strong postseason in Edmonton, where he was among the league leaders in ice time and chipped in 14 playoff points (second among all defensemen), Spacek's playoff experience will move him up the depth chart for many GMs.
Sergei Samsonov: In the past, the prospect of landing the skilled Samsonov has always made opposing GMs drool. And with the emphasis on skill in the "new" NHL, the diminutive Russian will garner a lot of attention. Still, a tepid performance in the finals against Carolina might see his stock drop at least a little.
Michael Peca: Peca endured a miserable regular season in Edmonton, but redeemed himself with a sensational playoff run. Peca is likely to be too expensive for the Oilers and will almost certainly be headed elsewhere. Maybe back to Long Island, where new GM Neil Smith and coach Ted Nolan will be looking for leadership.
Mark Recchi: Carolina is unlikely to exercise its club option, making Recchi a free agent. He will likely return to Pittsburgh to play out the string on a long and admirable career.
Matt Cullen: Cullen, who turned in a wonderful performance in Game 7 of the finals and was terrific all season, will be an attractive second-line center because of his speed, skill and character. Carolina GM Jim Rutherford will try to keep him in the fold and it will be a surprise if he moves, given what seems to be a natural fit for both player and team.
Brendan Witt: The hard-hitting Witt will be attractive to a lot of teams looking to add character along the blue line, but Nashville GM David Poile will be under pressure to sign him after giving up a first-round pick to get him from Washington at the trade deadline.
Brendan Shanahan: There are conflicting reports out of Detroit, where the Red Wings have to make changes after a third straight disappointing playoff performance. Can Detroit afford Shanahan and Nicklas Lidstrom and get a top-notch starting goaltender? Can they afford to have graybeards Chris Chelios, Steve Yzerman and Shanahan in the lineup? If the answer is no, look for Shanahan to land with a Cup contender looking for a veteran presence.
Alyn McCauley: He's one of the great character guys in the game and a solid two-way player. After a terrific campaign in 2003-04, McCauley's productivity dropped and he played hurt during the playoffs.
Rob Blake: One of the most productive, valuable defensemen of his generation, Blake will almost certainly remain in Colorado, even if it means taking less than he could garner on the open market, just as captain Joe Sakic did this week in signing on for next season.
Jason Arnott: He's an interesting midrange forward whose 76 points were second only to Dallas captain Mike Modano on the team. The Stars would like Arnott back, but watch for former Dallas GM Bob Gainey to try to lure Arnott to Montreal. Arnott also won a Cup playing alongside fellow unrestricted free agents Elias and Petr Sykora. Hmm.
Chris Mason: He's an interesting dark horse among the goaltending set. Mason performed well in relief of Tomas Vokoun late in the season and through the Predators' first-round loss to San Jose. He'll be less expensive than others and might be just as good.
Jeremy Roenick: Roenick insists he isn't done in spite of what last year's performance might indicate. Could a return to Chicago be in the offing? In many ways, the man and the franchise deserve each other. If Roenick bows to Father Time, watch for him to turn up on OLN's broadcasts.
Jason Allison: The big center with the soft hands had 60 points in 66 games for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He was, however, minus-18 and rumors persist he's a difficult guy in the dressing room. Still, there's always room for a point-a-game pivot in the NHL and Allison will have much to prove.
|OTHER NOTEABLE FREE AGENTS (By position)|
• Martin Gerber
• Ed Belfour
• Manny Legace
• Brian Boucher
• Patrick Lalime
• John Grahame
• Willie Mitchell
• Pavel Kubina
• Teppo Numminen
• Hal Gill
• Brian Leetch
• Glen Wesley
• Aaron Ward
• Niclas Wallin
• Tom Poti
• Martin Straka
• Petr Sykora
• Eric Daze
• Mike Sillinger
• Mike Grier
• Derek Armstrong
• Mark Parrish
• Scott Young
Scott Burnside is an NHL writer for ESPN.com.