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NHL

Top 20 NHL Unrestricted Free Agents Available In 2013

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NHL Free Agency 2013

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Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The free agent class of 2012 wasn’t exactly anything to write home about. Beyond Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, who both ended up on the same club, there wasn’t much to get excited about. Which led to some bloated contracts.

The 2013 class isn't on that low a level, but it still isn't overly impressive. You’re likely still looking at a couple of top tier players, with a nice chunk of middle-of-the-road types who aren’t exactly stars, but can be difference makers for a contending club looking to add a final piece to the puzzle.

Overall, the class is decent for teams looking for an impact forward. If you’re looking for a defenseman, you may have to wait until 2014 or make a trade or send out an offer sheet. As far as goaltending, there are a couple of notable names, but we don’t know if those available are exactly franchise goaltenders.

The list of unrestricted notable free agents goes beyond the names mentioned here. There are several players that could be ready to call it a career, or will play one more year with the franchise they’ve called home for almost, or all of, their entire career. Patrik Elias and Teemu Selanne fit the bill there.

Regardless of how thin the class may be, free agency is always an exciting time of year. Will all of these top players available end up on a new club prior to the start of the 2013-2014 season? Probably not. But the speculation that accompanies the free agent season is always fun.

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20. Pascal Dupuis - Pittsburgh Penguins

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pascal Dupuis isn't a guy that's going to come in and put up a whole bunch of points and be an impact player on the stat sheet every night. But he is capable of playing next to, and keeping up with, some of the best forwards in the league. He can be valuable for a team looking to add that type of player to their top six.

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19. Mason Raymond - Vancouver Canucks

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Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Bigger things were expected of Mason Rayond after a 53-point campaign in 2009-10, but he's going to be an intriguing option on the free agent market. He has great speed and can put the puck in the net. Regardless of whether or not he's been disappointing, he'll be a popular name on the market.

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18. Dustin Penner - Los Angeles Kings

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Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Dustin Penner was a free agent last summer and settled for a one-year deal to return to the team he won a Stanley Cup title with. Everyone's favorite pancake aficionado will have to prove whether his run during the spring last year was for real, or if he's a permanent underachiever.

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17. Tim Thomas - Boston Bruins

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Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Tim Thomas is taking a year off, for whatever reason. He has said that when he does return, he wants to return to Boston. But with Tuukka Rask between the pipes, it remains to be seen if there will be room for him. A contending club will have interest in the former Conn Smythe Trophy winner.

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16. Nathan Horton - Boston Bruins

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Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Nathan Horton has had his issues with concussions over the past couple of years. He looks to be completely healthy now and is capable of adding 50 or 60 points to a lineup.

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15. Michael Ryder - Dallas Stars

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Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

After having a career year with the Stars last year, Michael Ryder may opt for a multi-year deal to remain in Dallas. If not, a contending club looking for 20 or 30 goals and some veteran leadership may make a run at him.

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14. Tobias Enstrom - Winnipeg Jets

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John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Tobias Enstrom isn't a big guy on the blue line, standing just 5'10", but he's capable of being a difference-maker from an offensive point of view. He should see a nice contract offer, given the lack of defensive depth in this class.

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13. Stephen Weiss - Florida Panthers

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Stephen Weiss has been in South Beach for a long time, and may finally be on his way out. The Panthers have a solid core of young players now in place, and Weiss could look to move on. If he does, teams will have interest, especially teams that need some depth up the middle.

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12. Mark Streit - New York Islanders

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Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Streit is going to have tremendous value in this market. As a two-way defenseman, and potentially the best blue liner in the class, teams will be lining up to add him. He won't get a long-term deal, given his age, but could cost a pretty penny for a contender. That's assuming he decides that the Islanders are a lost cause and abandons the rebuilding project.

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11. Niklas Backstrom - Minnesota Wild

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Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

Nikas Backstrom is among the older goaltenders on the market, but a contender in need of some help between the pipes, like potentially Chicago, would have interest. The Wild have tremendous goaltending depth, which should make Backstrom available.

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10. Derek Roy - Dallas Stars

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Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Derek Roy is likely past his days of 70 or 80 points, but could be a very popular player on the free agent market. He still has plenty of offensive ability in the middle, and contending teams could see him as a final piece.

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9. Mike Ribeiro - Washington Capitals

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Ribeiro could play his way to an extension in D.C., but until then assume he'll be available. And as a guy who has put up at least 50 points in every season since 2002-03, he'll fetch some nice offers on the market.

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8. Ryane Clowe - San Jose Sharks

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Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Ryane Clowe isn't a core player, but he's going to be an extremely popular option for several teams. Not only can he put up 40 or 50 points, he can be a bruiser in the lineup as well. That's not too common, meaning he'll receive a nice contract.

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7. Mike Smith - Phoenix Coyotes

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Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

One has to assume that once the ownership situation is settled out in the desert, then Mike Smith will receive a contract extension. And given how well he has performed in Dave Tippett's system, he deserves one. It would be interesting to see how he performed in a system that emphasized defense a bit less.

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6. Jimmy Howard - Detroit Red Wings

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Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Howard may have proved that he's a franchise goaltender last year. It's hard to imagine the Wings not bringing him back, as long as his price tag isn't astronomically high.

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5. Valtteri Filppula - Detroit Red Wings

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Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Teams have asked for Valtteri Filppula in trade talks for defensemen, but the Wings have been reluctant to deal him. He's 28 and appears to be entering his prime after a 66-point campaign last year. Meaning he'll be coveted on the market.

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4. Alexander Semin - Carolina Hurricanes

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James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Questions about his character led to Alex Semin settling for a one-year deal last summer. If he can shake some of those and have a solid year, he could find a multi-year deal somewhere.

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3. Jarome Iginla - Calgary Flames

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Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Jarome Iginla is nearing the twilight of his career, but still performing at a high level. Teams could look to acquire him before the trade deadline this year. If not, he could take a short-term deal somewhere in hopes of winning his first Stanley Cup.

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2. Ryan Getzlaf - Anaheim Ducks

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Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Getzlaf could end up making more money than his fellow free agent teammate, Corey Perry, simply because of the fact that he's at a more premium position. Teams want top tier centers and Getzlaf is that. Look for several teams to be in on him.

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1. Corey Perry - Anaheim Ducks

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It wouldn't be terribly surprising to see Perry dealt before the trade deadline, so the Ducks can get some value for him rather than just letting him walk. If not, expect virtually every team in the league to have interest on the free agent market, a la Parise last year.