With the NHL now in scramble mode due to the new collective bargaining agreement settlement with the NHLPA, teams will quickly be looking to shore up their rosters for the shortened season.
While there were several high-profile unrestricted free agent signings during the off-season, there is still a large number of UFAs that have not been signed to NHL deals. The remaining UFAs may not be superstars but several of them could probably be solid pickups for NHL teams looking to fill their roster for the shortened season.
We take a look at who these remaining UFAs are and what we expect to happen to them.
Jason Arnott, forward, St. Louis Blues, $2,875,000 cap hit for 2011-12
There are always NHL teams looking for veteran leadership along with someone that can put the puck in the net here and there.
At 38 years of age and still unsigned, centre Jason Arnott is at the point in his career where he can full the above-mentioned roles. In 72 games with the St. Louis Blues last season, Arnott had 34 points (17 goals and 17 assists), so there is no doubt that he can produce.
Arnott, whose last deal was with the St. Louis Blues for one year at $2.875 million, might be a good fit for clubs such as the Vancouver Canucks, Toronto Maple Leafs and Philadelphia Flyers.
Blair Betts, forward, Philadelphia Flyers, $700,000 cap hit for 2011-12
When it comes to players who can block shots, kill penalties and be a solid fourth-line centre, UFA Blair Betts is one of the names that come up, especially when healthy.
Betts, whose last deal was with the Philadelphia Flyers at $700,000 per season, missed the entire 2011-12 with a lower-body injury, making it tough for other teams to decide whether or not he would be worth signing. When healthy, Betts played in 65 and 73 games, respectively, and filled the fourth-line centre role well.
Betts might be good for a team looking for a grinder and not looking to spend much money.
Jason Blake, forward, Anaheim Ducks, $4,000,000 cap hit for 2011-12
Back when the Toronto Maple Leafs signed Jason Blake to a five-year deal worth $20 million before the 2007-08 season, Blake was someone who could produce, play hard, be a pest and play in all situations.
Unfortunately for Blake, 39, things have not been as good since that signing. In October 2007, he was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia but still managed to put up 52 points (15 goals and 37 assists) in his first full season (2007-08) and then added another 63 points (25 goals and 38 assists) the second season (2008-09).
However, age is catching up to Blake as his numbers have been on the decline since then. He had just 12 points (seven goals and five assists) in 45 games last season with the Anaheim Ducks. Blake might be good for a team that could use his hungry style of play as well as for a team that could use veterans.
Matt Bradley, Forward, Florida Panthers, $950,000 cap hit for 2011-12
Back in 2011, the Florida Panthers signed forward Matt Bradley to a two-year deal worth $1.9 million.
Looking back at it, the Panthers realized they made a mistake as Bradley did not live up to expectations. In his first season with the club last season, Bradley played in just 45 games and had only eight points.
The Panthers ended up buying him out, and Bradley is now a UFA. Bradley could fit in with a team looking to have a veteran presence on one of its lower lines or in an organization that is trying to help out its American Hockey League team.
Andrew Brunette, forward, Chicago Blackhawks, $2,000,000 cap hit for 2011-12
Brunette had a bad year at the wrong time in his career last season.
Since he signed just a one-year deal worth $2 million with the Chicago Blackhawks, last season was a contract year for Brunette and he played poorly. The 39-year-old posted a career-low 27 points (12 goals and 15 assists) in 78 games and added just a single goal in six post-season games.
Prior to last season, Brunette scored anywhere between 45 to 65 points. He might have one of those kinds of seasons left in him and could be a good fit for a team looking for offensive depth and some power-play minutes.
Chris Campoli, defenceman, Montreal Canadiens, $1,750,000 cap hit for 2011-12
Coming off two seasons in which he just played a combined 62 games, 28-year-old UFA defenceman Chris Campoli is in need of an NHL home.
When healthy, Campoli can put up 15 to 25 points and play a lot of minutes. On the other side, Campoli needs to focus more on the defensive end of the game as he has been a minus player in six of the seven years he’s been in the league.
A good fit for Campoli, whose last deal was for one year with the Montreal Canadiens at $1.75 million, might be a team that is either rebuilding its defence corps or looking to pick up a younger blueliner. Several teams could use help on defence, and someone like Campoli might be a good place to start.
Jonathan Cheechoo, forward, St. Louis Blues, $600,000 cap hit for 2011-12
My, how the mighty have fallen, eh?
Since scoring 56 goals with the San Jose Sharks in 2005-06, the 32-year-old Cheechoo has been on a downward spiral offensively. Going into last season, the St. Louis Blues signed Cheechoo to a one-year deal at $600,000, and that one year was spent with the Peoria Rivermen in the AHL, where he put up 56 points (25 goals and 31 assists).
Cheechoo still has some hockey left in him, but one has to wonder what NHL team thinks they can get him to be the player who once scored 56 and 37 goals in back-to-back years. Maybe he can be a reclamation project for someone like the Columbus Blue Jackets, Tampa Bay Lightning or even the Anaheim Ducks, as he did have success on the West Coast with the Sharks.
Brett Clark, defenceman, Tampa Bay Lightning, $1,500,000 cap hit for 2011-12
For a defenceman who played in every single regular-season game last year, it is a surprise that 36-year-old UFA Brett Clark is still available.
After signing a two-year deal worth $3 million with the Lightning before the 2010-11 season, Clark was a reliable blueliner. He put up 31 (nine goals and 22 assists) and 15 (two goals and 13 assists) points in his two seasons in Tampa
A good fit for Clark might be the Detroit Red Wings, who reportedly were once interested in signing him.
Mike Commodore, Defenceman, Tampa Bay Lightning, $1,000,000 cap hit for 2011-12
The last few seasons for 33-year-old UFA defenceman Mike Commodore have been ones of scant ice time and few games played.
Since 2010-11, Commodore has played just 50 games and even spent time down in the AHL with the Springfield Falcons. This was seen as a huge disappointment for the Columbus Blue Jackets they signed him to a five-year, $18.75-million deal in 2008.
With not much playing time in his last few years and a shortened schedule on the horizon, Commodore might be worth taking a chance on as a fill-in defenceman somewhere in the NHL.
Ty Conklin, Goaltender, Detroit Red Wings, $750,000 cap hit for 2011-12
You can never have too much goaltending, and that might be one reason why 36-year-old netminder Ty Conklin might be worth a look.
Conklin signed a one-year deal worth $750,000 to be the Detroit Red Wings’ backup last season. The team assigned him to its AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, and he only played in 15 games for the Red Wings and did not put up good numbers.
With a condensed schedule on the horizon, however, someone may want to take a flyer on Conklin because he has proven to be a worthy backup in the past. The New York Islanders or Edmonton Oilers should look into him.
Mathieu Darche, forward, Montreal Canadiens, $700,000 cap hit for 2011-12
For $700,000, the 36-year-old was a solid two-way player for the Montreal Canadiens in his two full seasons with the club.
At the end of 2010-11, the Canadiens signed Darche to a one-year deal at $700,000. For their money, the Canadiens got a player who put up 12 points (five goals and seven assists), scored two shorthanded goals, and played in 61 games.
He may be heading toward the end of his career, but for teams like the Columbus Blue Jackets, Anaheim Ducks, Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers and others that did not make the post-season last year, Darche might be a solid fourth-line player to sign for very little money.
Radek Dvorak, forward, Dallas Stars, $1,500,000 cap hit for 2011-12
Dvorak may be getting up there in age, but there’s no reason he couldn’t be a serviceable fourth-liner or penalty killer for an NHL club.
Dvorak, 35, signed a one-year deal at $1.5 million with the Dallas Stars last season and played decently for the team. In 73 games, Dvorak had 21 points (four goals and 17 assists) and, when healthy, is someone who can score between 20 and 40 points.
Much like several players on this list, Dvorak would be a good fit for a team looking for help on one of its lower lines.
Mark Eaton, defenceman, New York Islanders, $2,500,000 cap hit for 2011-12
At 35 years of age, Eaton could help out a team looking to add defensive depth or a veteran to help its younger blueliners.
Prior to 2010-11, Eaton signed a two-year deal with the Islanders for $5 million. In his two years in New York, Eaton worked hard, got a decent amount of playing time and provided veteran leadership for a young Islanders team.
Teams such as the Islanders, Blue Jackets or the Red Wings might be able to use his services.
Jeff Finger, defenceman, Toronto Maple Leafs, $3,500,000 cap hit for 2011-12
Looking at his statistics, it is amazing to think that the Leafs thought this guy was worth $14 million for four years.
In his four seasons in Toronto, Finger has been anything but impressive. After he played two seasons with the Leafs and failed to match what his contract was paying him, Finger was placed on waivers in October 2010 and then sent down to their AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies, where he has not done much of anything.
While he’s still just 33 years old, it would not come as a surprise to anyone if he remains in the minor leagues for the rest of his career.
Kurtis Foster, defenceman, Minnesota Wild, $1,800,000 cap hit for 2011-12
For Foster, it has been a roller coaster of an NHL career.
After signing a two-year deal with Edmonton in 2010, Foster spent time with the Oilers, Anaheim Ducks, New Jersey Devils and Minnesota Wild. Foster has also spent much time off the ice due to various injuries.
While his injury history and number of teams he has played on might look bad, Foster is still just 31 and is in his prime. With the right opportunity, Foster might have several years left in the NHL.
Eric Godard, forward, Dallas Stars, $725,000 cap hit for 2011-12
When a player is strictly an enforcer and cannot do much offensively with the puck, it’s going to be slim pickings when it comes to NHL teams that want to sign him.
This is the case when it comes to the 32-year-old Godard. In July 2011, Godard signed a two-year deal worth $1.45 million with the Dallas Stars and did not dress in one NHL game as he was assigned to the Stars’ AHL affiliate, the Texas Stars, where he played 46 games.
If Godard wants to play in the NHL in this shortened season, he needs to show that he can do more than just fight and spend time in the penalty box.
Jochen Hecht, forward, Buffalo Sabres, $3,525,000 cap hit for 2011-12
After being a consistent and productive forward for the St. Louis Blues and then the Buffalo Sabres for several seasons, Hecht’s injuries might have caught up to him.
In October 2007, Hecht, 35, signed a four-year deal worth $14.1 million with the Buffalo Sabres and was a consistent scorer for two of the four seasons. However, this past January, Hecht suffered a concussion and missed the remainder of the season.
In December, Hecht signed a two-year deal with Adler Manheim and is currently playing well for the team. Hecht is still a versatile forward with enough NHL skill left for a team to take a chance on him, whether it is someone like the Columbus Blue Jackets, Buffalo Sabres, Dallas Stars or Calgary Flames.
Tomas Holmstrom, forward, Detroit Red Wings, $1,875,000 cap hit for 2011-12
Considering that Tomas Holmstrom has spent his entire career with the Detroit Red Wings, it is unlikely that he will look to play anywhere else and may end up retiring.
Prior to 2010-11, Holmstrom signed a two-year deal worth $3,750,000 to stay in Detroit. In his 14 years with the Wings, Holmstrom was reliable, hardworking, versatile and someone who could enter dirty areas to score goals.
If he signs anywhere, it will be with the Red Wings on a short-term deal.
Kristian Huselius, forward, Columbus Blue Jackets, $4,750,000 cap hit for 2011-12
To say the last two seasons were ugly for Huselius would be an understatement.
Prior to 2008-09, Huselius signed a four-year deal worth $19 million with the Blue Jackets. Unfortunately for both Huselius and the Jackets, it did not work out well in the last two years of the deal. In 2010-11, Huselius played in just 33 games because he ended up tearing his chest muscle, and last season he played in only two games before injuring his groin and missing the rest of the season.
Huselius says he was rushed back by the Blue Jackets and that is why he hurt himself last season. At 34 years of age, some injury trouble in his last two seasons and him playing in Europe with AIK in the SEL, it’s hard to see what teams will be interested in him.
Kent Huskins, defenceman, St. Louis Blues, $1,000,000 cap hit for 2011-12
After signing a one-year deal worth $1 million with the St. Louis Blues prior to the 2011-12 season, Kent Huskins played in just 25 games due to various injuries.
Huskins is a dependable defenceman who stayed on the plus side and did not make many mistakes. Unfortunately, he does not contribute consistently on offence, and as last season showed, he gets injured too much.
At 33 years of age, Huskins could be a solid pickup, if he stays healthy, for teams that are rebuilding or need depth due to the shortened schedule.
Brent Johnson, goaltender, Pittsburgh Penguins, $600,000 cap hit for 2011-12
With such a condensed schedule on the horizon, backup goaltenders will be necessary. Johnson, 35, is considered one of the better ones.
Prior to 2010-11, Johnson signed a two-year deal with the Penguins and, for the most part, did not disappoint. Unfortunately, it was the second year of the deal where Johnson struggled to a 6-7-2 record and posted a 3.11 GAA and .883 save percentage.
That said, Johnson might be of use to teams such as the New York Islanders, Anaheim Ducks or Edmonton Oilers.
Randy Jones, defenceman, Winnipeg Jets, $1,150,000 cap hit for 2011-12
Just 31 years old, Jones still has a lot of hockey left in him.
Prior to last season, Jones signed a one-year deal with the Winnipeg Jets for $1.5 million. He played in just 39 games as he was inconsistent and made a lot of mistakes in his own zone.
Jones is looked at as a depth defenceman and could be of some use to teams like the Blue Jackets, Islanders, Jets, or Red Wings.
Mike Knuble, forward, Washington Capitals, $2,000,000 cap hit for 2011-12
In the NHL, it is easy to see when age has caught up with a player. This looks like the case for the 40-year-old Knuble.
After signing a one-year deal worth $2 million prior to last season, Knuble went out and had one of his worst offensive seasons in his career. In 72 games, Knuble had just 18 points (six goals and 12 assists) after posting 40 points (24 goals and 16 assists) in 70 games the season prior.
It’s clear that time might be up for Knuble; teams might not find it worth their while to sign him to a short-term deal.
Pavel Kubina, defenceman, Philadelphia Flyers, $3,850,000 cap hit for 2011-12
He may not be the offensive force he once was, but Kubina might be a good fit somewhere.
In 2010, Kubina, 35, signed a two-year deal worth $7.7 million with the Tampa Bay Lightning. While he put up 23 points (four goals and 19 assists) in his first year, he struggled last season as he ended up being traded to the Flyers and posted just 15 points (three goals and 12 assists) in 69 games.
Kubina is currently playing with HC Vitkovice in the Czech Extraliga. He still has a booming shot, can log plenty of minutes and move the puck well.
Daymond Langkow, forward, Phoenix Coyotes, $4,500,000 cap hit for 2011-12
Injury and age cause an NHLer to go into decline. This might be the case for 36-year-old Langkow.
In the middle of a four-year deal worth $18 million with the Calgary Flames, Langkow suffered a neck injury after getting struck with a puck that ended up causing damage to the spinal cord. This caused doctors to say he had a 50/50 chance of playing hockey again, which Langkow proved wrong in 2010-11 when he was a finalist for the Bill Masterton Trophy (given to Ian Laperriere).
With the Phoenix Coyotes last season, Langkow had 30 points (11 goals and 19 assists) in 73 games and added another seven points in the post-season. Langkow might be worth a short-term deal as a depth forward.
Dominic Moore, forward, San Jose Sharks, $1,100,000 cap hit for 2011-12
Family comes first. This is the case with 32-year-old Moore.
After playing 79 regular-season games and three post-season games with the San Jose Sharks last season, Moore, who signed a two-year deal worth $2.2 million before being traded to the Sharks, left the team to be with his wife, who was battling cancer.
Earlier this past summer, the Sharks expressed interest in bringing Moore back when he was ready to continue playing. Moore would be an excellent third- or fourth-line centre for teams looking to have someone fill that kind of role.
Brendan Morrison, forward, Chicago Blackhawks, $1,250,000 cap hit for 2011-12
In his eight seasons with the Vancouver Canucks, 37-year-old Morrison was one of the league’s most consistent forwards. Since leaving Vancouver, however, things have been different.
Morrison signed a one-year deal with the Chicago Blackhawks for $850,000 and ended up being traded to the Calgary Flames after he posted just 11 points in 28 games. With the Flames, Morrison was not much better as he had no points in 11 games.
Morrison is not quite sure what the future holds for him, and at 37 years of age, teams might not want to sign him even though he could end up being a good playmaker, faceoff man, and special teams player.
Mike Mottau, defenceman, Boston Bruins, $800,000 cap hit for 2011-12
A former Hobey Baker Award winner as college hockey’s top player, Mottau has much to prove after struggling last season with both the New York Islanders and Bruins.
Mottau, 34, signed a two-year deal with the Islanders in September 2010 and has been inconsistent since then. In the past two seasons combined, Mottau has just five points (all assists) and is a minus-24.
Getting up there in age and having struggled in his last two seasons, there might not be much of a market for Mottau.
Sean O’Donnell, defenceman, Chicago Blackhawks, $850,000 cap hit for 2011-12
In the last six seasons, 41-year-old O’Donnell has played for four different teams.
After signing a one-year deal worth $850,000 prior to the 2011-12 season, O’Donnell suited up for the Chicago Blackhawks and played 51 regular-season games and two post-season games. O’Donnell has always been a team-first player that brings veteran leadership and depth to a team’s defensive corps.
That said, it might be time for O’Donnell to hang up the skates.
Dwayne Roloson, goaltender, Tampa Bay Lightning, $3,000,000 cap hit for 2011-12
One of the hardest-working and athletic goaltenders to ever lace ‘em up, it might be time for 43-year-old Roloson to retire.
After taking the Tampa Bay Lightning all the way to the Eastern Conference finals in 2010-11, general manager Steve Yzerman rewarded Roloson with a one-year pact worth $3 million. Unfortunately for the Lightning and Roloson, the goaltender struggled and went 13-16 with a 3.66 GAA, .886 save percentage and five shutouts in 40 games.
Although there might be some clubs who are looking for a backup goaltender in the short term, one that is over 40 years old might not be the answer.
Brian Rolston, forward, Boston Bruins, $5,062,500 cap hit for 2011-12
There is no doubt that at one time in his career, Rolston consistently made things happen on the offensive side of the game.
Unfortunately for Rolston, that time is gone. After signing a four-year deal worth more than $20 million with the New Jersey Devils prior to 2008-09, the offensive side of his game has been on a steady decline.
Last season, Rolston had just 24 points (seven goals and 17 assists) in 70 games while playing with both the New York Islanders and Boston Bruins. With that said, someone might pick him up and hope he will get on a goal-scoring streak, something that will be needed in a shortened season where every game means something.
Kurt Sauer, defenceman, Phoenix Coyotes, $1,750,000 cap hit for 2011-12
Since signing a four-year deal worth $1.75 million with the Phoenix Coyotes four years ago, things have not gone well for Sauer.
In the last four seasons, Sauer has played just 69 games. Sauer has been dealing with concussion issues for the last three years and has not played an NHL game in that span.
He may be just 31 years old, but by not having played an NHL game in the last three years, teams may stay away from signing him to a deal.
Marco Sturm, forward, Florida Panthers, $2,250,000 cap hit for 2011-12
It’s been a rough go of it for Sturm, 34.
In the last three seasons, Sturm has played for the Los Angeles Kings, Washington Capitals, Vancouver Canucks and Florida Panthers. Prior to last season, Sturm signed a one-year deal with Canucks for $2.25 million and struggled mightily. Less than a month into the season, he was sent off to the Florida Panthers, where he had just five points (three goals and two assists) in 42 games.
It has been well documented that Sturm has issues with his knees, and with his age and declining skill, there might not be much of a market for his services right now.
Petr Sykora, forward, New Jersey Devils, $650,000 cap hit for 2011-12
Sykora might be 36 years old, but if last year is any indication, he can still put up points and play well on both sides of the puck.
Prior to the start of last season, Sykora signed a one-year deal with the Devils for $650,000 and was quite the bargain. Sykora played in all 82 games last season and had 44 points (21 goals and 23 assists) while also adding five points in 18 post-season games.
Sykora can still play the game and can be used at all three forward positions. During the off-season, there were talks of the Devils being interested in bringing him back but if they don’t, there should be other teams looking for his services.
Marty Turco, goaltender, Boston Bruins, $600,000 cap hit for 2011-12
A former NHL all-star and the all-time franchise wins, shutouts, and games played leader for the Dallas Stars, 37-year-old Turco may be at the end of the line.
Last season Turco was signed by the Bruins for $600,000 in March and played five games, going 2-2 with a 3.68 GAA and .855 save percentage. Currently, Turco is playing with EC Red Bull Salzburg of the EBEL.
It is clear that Turco has a solid career after hockey as an analyst, but when it comes to this season, his services might not be needed by any NHL club.
Jim Vandermeer, defenceman, San Jose Sharks, $1,000,000 cap hit for 2011-12
Just looking at Vandermeer’s career statistics, it’s easy to see that he is a journeyman who does not stick with a team for too long.
Prior to this past season, Vandermeer, 32, signed a one-year deal worth $1 million for the San Jose Sharks. Vandermeer played just 25 games in what was his seventh NHL team.
With the way he bounces around, it is possible someone signs him to a short-term deal as a depth defenceman.
Colin White, defenceman, San Jose Sharks, $1,000,000 cap hit for 2011-12
It has been a solid career for 35-year-old White, and one that could be coming to an end.
White played 51 games with the San Jose Sharks last season after signing a one-year deal worth $1 million in the off-season. He had just four points (one goal and three assists) and did not play in any post-season game with the Sharks.
White has always been a solid defensive defenceman, but one must wonder how much he has left in him after what has been a grueling 12-year career.
Brad Winchester, forward, San Jose Sharks, $725,000 cap hit for 2011-12
Winchetser is an aggressive forward who plays hard, throws the body and can play both wings.
On a one-year deal worth $725,000, Winchester spent last season with the Sharks. He played in 67 games and had 10 points (six goals and four assists).
An inconsistent but versatile big forward, Winchester could end up signing as a depth move for teams that have injury trouble or as someone who can fill a fourth-line role.
Jesse Winchester, forward, Ottawa Senators, $750,000 cap hit for 2011-12
There are always teams looking for a hardworking player who can play well on the defensive side of the puck and contribute on special teams.
Winchester fits the bill. Back in 2010, Winchester signed a two-year deal worth $1.5 million and played fine for a depth player.
Winchester is still young, at 29, and can be used as a penalty-killing forward and as both a winger or centreman. He recently posted 11 points in 11 games with TuTo in Finland’s second division and he believes an NHL team will sign him.