While it is hard to talk and discuss the NHL when the league is not even playing, it is certainly okay to at least dream and speculate about things, in particular NHL free agency.
In 2012, hockey fans saw two of the most coveted unrestricted free agents in the league in Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.
The duo signed identical 13-year contracts, totaling a combined $196 million.
In 2013, NHL free agency might end up being much different due to the ongoing collective bargnaining negotiations.
Should the league decide to wipe out the entire season, NHL general managers would not have recent performances to go by and in turn, players might not have pertinent information when it comes to the direction of their respective hockey clubs.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the top free agents for the 2013 off-season:
Jarome Iginla, Calgary Flames
When you’re an NHLer that has been with basically one team his entire career, it’s probably very hard to think about going to another team.
This is exactly what Iginla faces this upcoming off-season. By far and away, Iginla has been the Flames’ most consistent player as he has posted 11 straight 30-goal seasons and has become the all-time leading scorer in franchise history.
Unfortunately for Iginla, the one thing he is missing in his career is a Stanley Cup. Should this season be cancelled, it will be hard for Iginla to see whether or not the Flames were taking strides to being a contender.
Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks
Knowing that his teammate is also an unrestricted free agent in 2013 (Ryan Getzlaf), it will be interesting to see what the Anaheim Ducks do this off-season.
Like Getzlaf, Perry is just 27 years of age and has been a consistent offensive player for the Ducks. After a career year in 2010-11 in which he scored 50 goals and won the Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player, Perry dipped last season and put up just 60 points (37 goals and 23 assists).
Should this season be cancelled, Perry and the Ducks will never know whether or not he would increase in both goals and points this season. With that said, the Ducks know that they need a goal scorer like Perry and the team will pony up the dough to make sure Perry stays in Anaheim.
Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks
Getzlaf is everything a team could want in a captain.
He hits, plays in all situations, has won a Stanley Cup, leads by example and has been a good reliable player for the past seven seasons. With that said, Getzlaf is also a player that has had his point total decrease over the last two seasons.
With Perry needed to be re-signed, there is a chance that Getzlaf could wind up playing elsewhere in 2013-14.
Alex Edler, Vancouver Canucks
There is no doubt that with or without Roberto Luongo, the Vancouver Canucks are a talented hockey club.
One such talent is 26-year old defenceman Alex Edler. Last season, Edler had a career-high 49 points (11 goals and 38 assists) and blocked 145 shots.
While those numbers are quite good for a defenceman, the Canucks also have other talented blueliners. The team has the likes of Kevin Bieksa and Dan Hamhuis, both of whom are already signed for four more years as well as having Jason Garrison, who the team locked up for six years.
With the above-mentioned defencemen already on the roster, does Edler even have a chance to crack the blueline as a top two defender? If he cannot do that, will he be happy being in the three or four spot?
Mike Smith, Phoenix Coyotes
As everyone in the hockey world knows, you need strong goaltending not only if you want to get into the post-season, but if you want to be a Stanley Cup contender.
The Phoenix Coyotes came within two wins of going to the Stanley Cup for the first time in team history, mostly because of the goaltending of Smith. In the regular season, the 30-year-old went 38-18-10 with a 2.21 goals-against average, a .930 save percentage and eight shutouts.
Smith was even better in the postseason. He went 9-7 with a 1.99 goals-against average, a .944 save percentage and three shutouts.
While all those numbers are terrific for a starting goaltender, one has to wonder if he would have been able to duplicate that in a full season in 2012-13? If the season gets cancelled, the team and Smith will never know the answer for that.
With that said, it would be wise for the Coyotes to extend Smith long-term as he is definitely looks like the goaltender of the present and even the future at this point for the franchise.
Joffrey Lupul, Toronto Maple Leafs
Young and talented forwards are always in demand, especially ones that know how to produce offensively.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have such a thing in forward Joffrey Lupul. When healthy, the 29-year-old left winger has proven he can be extremely productive.
Last season with the Leafs, he scored 25 goals and added 42 assists for 67 points in 66 games. Unfortunately for the Leafs, Lupul separated his shoulder and missed the final four weeks of the season.
This is where it gets interesting. Assuming that Lupul was fully healthy this season, there is a good possibly he could duplicate or come close to matching the amount of points he put up last season.
More than likely, teams will assume the best and end up paying a high price to sign him to a long-term deal come this off-season. Will GM Brian Burke be the one to pull the trigger?
Travis Zajac/Patrik Elias, New Jersey Devils
As mentioned above, if you are a young NHLer who has been productive, you will be more than wanted on the open market.
New Jersey Devils’ 27-year-old forward Travis Zajac will be just that come this off-season. Zajac has cracked the 60-point barrier twice in the last four seasons and was solid in the post-season last year as he scored seven goals and picked up 14 points in the Devils’ run to the Stanley Cup final.
While Zajac is certainly worth signing, the team will also have to figure out if they want to re-sign his teammate, Patrik Elias. With only a 15-game regular season and long post-season run for the Devils’ to base Zajac’s value at, it will be interesting to see what the Devils’ think Zajac and Elias are worth.
Elias has been a Devil his whole career and is the franchise’s scoring leader, which would make it hard to imagine seeing Elias don anything else than the red, white and black. However, one upside for Zajac is he’s just entering the prime of his career and has a lot more hockey left in him than Elias does.
Derek Roy, Dallas Stars
Dallas Stars’ newly acquired forward Derek Roy fits the mold of a player who could be targeted on the open market.
From 2006-10, Roy put had point totals of 63, 81, 70, and 69 with the Buffalo Sabres.
The Stars acquired Roy before the lockout started in hopes he would have a breakout season with Dallas.
Now, it will be up to the Stars if they want to sign him without knowing what he could have accomplished in a full season. More than likely, the Stars might take that gamble and sign him to a short-term deal.
Michael Ryder, Dallas Stars
It has been an up and down career for Dallas Stars’ forward Michael Ryder.
After struggling with the Montreal Canadiens and then some inconsistency with the Boston Bruins, Ryder certainly found a home in Dallas last season. He had a career-high 35 goals and finished the season with 62 points.
With that said, Ryder has been an inconsistent player his whole career. There is a possibility that this past season might have been Ryder’s ceiling.
It should not come as a surprise if the Stars and Ryder end up coming to terms on a multi-year deal as the veteran forward has finally found a place he can call home.
- Nicklas Backstrom, Minnesota Wild
- Ryan Clowe, San Jose Sharks
- Tobias Enstrom, Winnipeg Jets
- Mike Fisher, Nashville Predators
- Sergei Gonchar, Ottawa Senators
- Nathan Horton, Boston Bruins
- Andy McDonald, St. Louis Blues
- Mike Ribeiro, Washington Capitals
- Ian White, Detroit Red Wings
- Ryan Whitney, Edmonton Oilers