The NHL Scrap Bin

With a month and a half of NHL free agency gone, there remain a surprising number of quality players still available.  Regular readers will recall Scott Lewis’s great series on UFA bargain hunting, and a surprising number of players are still available from his lists:

 

  • Goaltenders: Manny Legace, Vesa Toskala, Jose Theodore and Ray Emery are all still available.  The problem here is that most teams already have their tandems locked up, and Europe/retirement might be the final destination for at least one or two of these guys when next season rolls around.
  • Defence: Scott listed five players, and all five are still waiting for a contract.  Jay McKee, Nick Boynton, Marc-Andre Bergeron, Garnet Exelby and Lukas Krajicek aren’t standouts but any of them could be helpful in a defined role.  Other players of similar calibre – Randy Jones, Paul Mara, Shane Hnidy and Aaron Johnson, to name four – are also worth considering.
  • Centre: Half of Scott’s list has been signed, but two players still remain: Mike Comrie, last seen as a winger inexplicably demoted to Edmonton’s fourth line, and Eric Belanger, who is just as valuable as Scott says he is.  I’d expect both to catch on somewhere, but I don’t expect either to get particularly lucrative contracts.  I’m also curious to see if older players like Doug Weight, Robert Lang and Brendan Morrison get deals.
  • Wingers: Miroslav Satan, Fernando Pisani, Jon Sim, Marek Svatos and Alex Tanguay all made Scott’s list, and only Sim and Tanguay have been signed.  Satan could be useful in a specialized offensive role, Pisani in a specialized defensive role, and Svatos to any team that can handle a small forward.  Seriously – prior to scoring 11 points this past season, Svatos had never scored fewer than 30 in four previous years.

 

Aside from Scott’s lists, there are a few other players who have managed to squeak through the cracks to date, and in alphabetical order I’m going to look at some of them:

 

  • Kim Johnsson: Splendid defenceman who will have to take a pay cut to stay in the NHL.
  • Paul Kariya: Came back from an injury-filled 2008-09 with a subpar campaign.  Still, he’d be a handy top-six forward and a guy who might be undervalued at this point in his career.
  • Ilya Kovalchuk: Seemingly the only hockey story left.
  • Jere Lehtinen: Technically on the list, but I’m guessing it’s Dallas or retirement for the capable two-way forward.
  • Clarke MacArthur: Assuming he doesn’t hold out for the money he was awarded in arbitration, he should be in the NHL next season.
  • Willie Mitchell: He’s had offers; the Red Wings, Sharks, Canucks and perhaps half a dozen other teams have all been rumoured as destinations at one point or another.  Mitchell is a quality shutdown defenceman, and right now seems likely to be had for less than I would have thought at the beginning of the summer, and probably less than he’s worth.
  • Fredrik Modin: He’ll turn 36 next season and I’m not sure a decent playoffs was enough to keep teams interested after disastrous/injury-filled campaigns.  If I were an NHL G.M. I’d look at him on the cheap; if I were Modin I’d probably find more money in Europe than in North America.
  • Antti Niemi: Pretty hard to ignore the Blackhawks’ former goaltender here.  Skill-wise, I’m not convinced he’s a huge upgrade on Emery or Theodore but he did win a Cup last year and that’s going to make the difference.  He just may have to settle for a 1B role, given the lack of spots available.
  • Owen Nolan: Still a useful NHL player, as he showed in Minnesota each of the past two seasons.  He adds grit and NHL experience, and I think he’ll get another deal despite his age.
  • Patrick O’Sullivan: Good player coming off a disastrous season where virtually every part of his game was questioned.  I think he’ll be forced to sign at a bargain basement rate and that whoever inks him looks really smart by the end of 2010-11.
  • Lee Stempniak: A third-line forward who started scoring goals like crazy in Phoenix, Stempniak deserves another NHL contract.  That said, if he ends up getting paid to score goals, some team is going to be disappointed. 
  • Petr Sykora: Worse players currently have NHL contracts, but I’m guessing he ends up in Europe.
  • Raffi Torres: There was a big difference between his play in Columbus and his play in Buffalo; he’s a useful piece for some team’s third line.
  • Jason Williams: Despite a bad year, he’s still a useful player.  I’d bet he gets a job somewhere in a specialized role at a discount rate.

And at this point there are many, many others still available (full list from CapGeek.com).  I’d like to pose a question to our readers: who do you like, and where do you see them signing?

Comments (20)

  1. [...] Comrie and declining teen idol Hilary Duff are expected to tie the knot this weekend!  Comrie, whom JW outlined here this morning as a man looking for employment, may still find a job in the NHL before October – but no pressure as his wife-to-be makes [...]

  2. Based on his performance last season, I’m most surprised that Stempniak is still out there. I agree with JW that he was playing above his potential, but it’s still a surprise that a scoring winger is without a job in my opinion. Svatos, too, is a surprise on the unemployment line..

  3. I like Svatos to the Leafs at a discounted rate if no other moves are made by them, I think he can fit in a top 9 role rather nicely. He has the potential to put up points given a chance and new scenery. And on a one year deal at lower pay standards I would give him a shot.

  4. @ Fresh Vince
    Stempniak isnt a scoring winger thats why he is still out there he had 14 goals before going on a hot run nera the end of the season….

  5. From a Kings fan persepective, they need to replace O’Donnell even more than they need help on the wings (Kariya would be a nice add, but I think he’s headed to the Ducks). Mitchell isn’t a bad short-term solution, all things considered.

    The risk is creating a Leafs-esque situation where they have too much money tied up in the D and not enough for adding more up front.

    O’Sullivan has serious headcase mojo following him around. I think he’s scaring people off.

  6. I’m quite surprised (stunned?) that Karyia is still available. I seriously think he has at least 1 good year left, maybe more. This guy is pure talent, it just doesn’t go away like that. Maybe he’s holding out for the Ducks though… we’ll see. If he doesn’t go to the Ducks, I think he’d be the perfect fit on Crosby’s wing for 2-2.5M on a 1-2 year deal. If not, maybe the Pens get Owen Nolan to replace Guerin? Somehow older guys seem to find rejuvenation playing with Sid.

    Also surprised Johnson is still out there, especially considering the premium paid on D this summer. Sure, he’s coming back from a nasty injury, and being benched in the playoffs probably didn’t help his stock… still, a team in need of defensive help (Caps?) could use him.

    As for my team, the Habs, I’d like to see them take a flyer on a guy like Torres, to add some grit (grit that’s not entirely devoid of hands, that is) in this lineup. I see him a slightly more talented Moen and I’d love to have that on the team. The real glaring organizational need is a top 6 scoring winger… but we have no cap space so it’ll have to come from within.

  7. @Rsmotors, I’m not sure another small-ish winger is what the Leafs need at this point.

    I find it most surprising that the Penguins have not added a winger, and that Theodore is still available. I really thought the Predators would make a move for him to help Rinne transition into a legitimate number one.

  8. Patrick O’Sullivan is one of the sadder cases in all of hockey the past ten years… very naturally gifted but it’s been a tough life for him, and I always hope he can finally pull it all together and really have a great season – and enjoy it.

    I don’t have the book handy now, but there’s an essay on his pre-NHL days in a collection of called “The Greatest Hockey Stories Ever Told” (and BTW, that is a fine book full of great work, including Jack Falla and George Plimpton). O’Sullivan’s story is hard to take.

    Weight is rumored to have a deal in principle to return to the Islanders, but it’s not been announced. Not sure why. That’s the rumor, however.

  9. Rsmotors, Stempniak scored before he got to Toronto and after he left. Don’t hate the player!

  10. Pretty sure Boynton signed with Chicago a few days ago…

  11. if i am not wrong, Boynton e-signed with hawks

  12. I can’t imagine any team signing Torres. He was pickup up by the Sabres and couldn’t even bother to report to the team in playing condition.

  13. I’d add Nigel Dawes to the list. He was solid for the Flames last year and he’s pretty young to boot.

    I could see a good team with needs on the wing adding him at a discount rate. Pittsburgh maybe?

  14. Pittsburgh should sign Stempy. He’ll score 30 playing on one of their top 2 lines and he’ll sign cheap.

  15. Is there anyway you can eliminate Scott Lewis from this blog? It makes me want to check this site less and less each day. I really enjoy your reads Jon, but the garbage he’s putting out is killing me. Is there at least a way I can block his posts? Sorry, but they seem to have been growing in number over the last little while.

  16. @Kofax Scott Lewis will never die, man.

  17. What’s wrong with Scott Lewis? I think he’s kept things going here while Jonathon was away. And his stuff is all very interesting. I think if Jonathon had any notion to get rid of Scott why would he be as a blogger with him in the first place? Good to know you’ll never die Lewis I come here for your blogs just as much as I do Willis.

  18. Those last two posts? They have nothing of value. Some kid with a bad youtube video, and comrie marrying hillary duff? You don’t need to blog about that crap. I can’t stand those posts and the crappy photoshop work, but that’s me. Good luck Jon, maybe I’ll check back at some point, but for now I won’t be.

  19. @RSmotors… ive seen so many of your posts and you are the typical leafs fan. you are an idiot and have noooo clue. svatos is far from the type of player burke wants. he says time and time again that he wants hard working players tthat never quit. that and hes trying to build a noth american based team. toronto will not pick up svatos. ive read alot of your pridictions over the past while. they just never happen. and as long as your a leafs fan i doubt anything will go your way ha.

    your right about fresh vince though, stempniak is not a scoring winger and is not that good3rd liner at the very most

  20. not that the canadiens need another small player but o’sullivan seems to be the usual choice for them (smaal and fast). svatos too. i would actually like to see svatos join though. i think he’d have a good year playing along side either plekanets or gomez. hes a sniper so itd be nice to see him on either of those lines. plekanets would have someone other than cammy to pass, kostitsyn has a really good shot but his play is inconsistant. and the same can be said about the pouliot situation. i think svatos could balance that roster out nicely if he can rebound from last season.

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