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Predicting Where Top 15 NHL Free Agents Will Sign

Predicting Where NHL Free Agency's Top 15 Players Will Sign

NHL Free Agency
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With NHL free agency set to begin on July 1, the group of players that will be available is becoming more and more clear each day as teams choose whether to move on or attempt to extend expiring contracts. Let's take a look at the top 15 players that will likely be available in free agency and predict where they will each end up.

15. Brooks Orpik

Brooks Orpik
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15. Brooks Orpik

Brooks Orpik
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Pittsburgh Penguins fans aren't sad to see the rapidly-declining Brooks Orpik leave town. While he isn't the player he used to be, Orpik can still be a quality presence on a bottom pairing for a good NHL team. He'll be signed by a team looking for physicality and a stay-at-home presence on the back end.

Prediction: Orpik signs with the Washington Capitals.

14. Jussi Jokinen

Jussi Jokinen
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14. Jussi Jokinen

Jussi Jokinen
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The Penguins' forward core boasts the two best centers in the world, but they have little of note after that; in addition to questions in net, Pittsburgh has next to no quality scoring depth. Jussi Jokinen is one of the few players on their roster who can provide some of that, and he was one of the best Penguins players in the postseason this year.

Prediction: Pittsburgh re-signs Jokinen.

13. Matt Moulson

Matt Moulson
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13. Matt Moulson

Matt Moulson
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Matt Moulson was an enormous disappointment for the Minnesota Wild, contributing next to nothing in the playoffs and ultimately being a healthy scratch for three games in the second round against the Chicago Blackhawks. Moulson's performance definitely cost him some money, but he's still a proven scorer and should have plenty of suitors on July 1.

Prediction: Moulson signs with the Nashville Predators.

12. Martin Brodeur

Martin Brodeur
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12. Martin Brodeur

Martin Brodeur
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Martin Brodeur apparently isn't ready to retire despite a glaring drop in his level of play. The New Jersey Devils aren't interested and appear primed to move forward with Cory Schneider. Brodeur could find a starting role on a team truly desperate for a solution in net.

Prediction: Brodeur signs with the Winnipeg Jets.

11. Joni Pitkanen

Joni Pitkanen
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11. Joni Pitkanen

Joni Pitkanen
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Joni Pitkanen has been a steady, solid defenseman for the better part of the past decade. He's played only 52 games in the past two seasons due to injury, however, and there is no guarantee he returns to the ice at all. If he does, teams in need of a puck mover will pursue Pitkanen hard.

Prediction: If he returns to the NHL, Pitkanen will sign with the Colorado Avalanche.

10. Daniel Alfredsson

Daniel Alfredsson
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10. Daniel Alfredsson

Daniel Alfredsson
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Daniel Alfredsson ditched the Ottawa Senators for the Detroit Red Wings in free agency last year, but he didn't end up coming close to achieving the Stanley Cup dreams dancing around in his mind that had caused him to make the jump.

Prediction: Retirement seems the most probable scenario.

9. Ryan Callahan

Ryan Callahan
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9. Ryan Callahan

Ryan Callahan
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After coming to Tampa Bay in the Martin St. Louis trade, Ryan Callahan was his usual self. He wasn't great, but he provided some scoring and grit as he always does. Callahan isn't a star and doesn't have any one elite trait, but he is a reasonably good option to have as a third wheel on a second line.

Prediction: Callahan signs with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

8. Jonas Hiller

Jonas Hiller
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8. Jonas Hiller

Jonas Hiller
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After a tumultuous season with the Anaheim Ducks, Jonas Hiller will all but assuredly hit the free agent market on July 1. He will be the second best goaltender available and should find a lucrative deal with a team looking for a big upgrade.

Prediction: Hiller signs with the Edmonton Oilers.

7. Andrei Markov

Andrei Markov
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7. Andrei Markov

Andrei Markov
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The Montreal Canadiens may not let Andrei Markov hit the open market, but at this point it seems more likely than not that he will. Markov isn't the elite player he was in years past, but he can still help a team significantly from the second defensive pairing.

Prediction: Markov signs with the Dallas Stars.

6. Mike Cammalleri

Mike Cammalleri
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6. Mike Cammalleri

Mike Cammalleri
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Mike Cammalleri is a limited player, but he does one thing with aplomb: score goals. With offense around the NHL continuing to trend down, skills like what Cammalleri provides will become more and more valuable. I can easily see Cammalleri getting a big deal from an offensively-starved team this offseason.

Prediction: Cammalleri signs with the Florida Panthers.

5. Jarome Iginla

Jarome Iginla
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5. Jarome Iginla

Jarome Iginla
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Similar to Alfredsson signing with Detroit, Jarome Iginla had Stanley Cup aspirations as his primary reason for joining the Boston Bruins last summer. He is still a very productive player and will presumably continue chasing a championship.

Prediction: Iginla signs with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

4. Paul Stastny

Paul Stastny
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4. Paul Stastny

Paul Stastny
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Paul Stastny is the best center on the free agent market and will be in exceptionally high demand as a result. He is an excellent offensive player but is best suited for a second line rather than a first line. Stastny could get silly money from some of the league's worst teams, especially out East.

Prediction: Stastny signs with the Buffalo Sabres.

3. Thomas Vanek

Thomas Vanek
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3. Thomas Vanek

Thomas Vanek
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Thomas Vanek was dreadful for the Montreal Canadiens in the playoffs and was relegated to the fourth line at times. Vanek is a one-dimensional goal scorer with a very limited game, but he is one of the biggest names to hit free agency in quite a while. Rumors have linked him to the Minnesota Wild for years.

Prediction: Vanek signs with Minnesota.

2. Ryan Miller

Ryan Miller
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2. Ryan Miller

Ryan Miller
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Ryan Miller, although rather overrated, is the best goalie to hit free agency in a very long time. He is also less of a stopgap solution than a player like Hiller and will almost surely become the long-term starter for whichever team signs him.

Prediction: Miller signs with the Washington Capitals.

1. Marian Gaborik

Marian Gaborik
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1. Marian Gaborik

Marian Gaborik
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Marian Gaborik has probably made himself quite a bit of money with his postseason run this year. He has blossomed on a line alongside two-way monster Anze Kopitar, looking every bit as dominant as he did during his prime in Minnesota. It's hard to see the Los Angeles Kings letting Gaborik walk.

Prediction: Gaborik re-signs with Los Angeles.

Sean Sarcu is a Chicago Blackhawks writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter or add him to your network on Google.