By Shane Darrow on July 8, 2014
Even with a week of NHL free agency behind us, there are still a lot of worthy players who need to be signed. Some will go back to their old teams, while others will find a new home. As prospect camps around the nation begin, here is where I believe the top five available NHL free agents will play next season.
Lee Stempniak won't be the guy to replace Jarome Iginla, but he is a suitable third-line player who fits in perfectly to the Bruins' muck and grind system. Stempniak can win battles in the corner and will add even more offensive depth to a team that was arguably the deepest up front in the Eastern Conference last season. Stempniak would be a great fit to play alongside Carl Soderberg and 24-year-old Matt Fraser.
The Detroit Red Wings are in desperate need of a defenseman, but they need a right-handed blueliner who can quarterback the power play – Michael Del Zotto just doesn't fit that mold. The San Jose Sharks, on the other hand, could use Del Zotto in their top-four rotation, and he would be a good fit to play alongside Jason Demers. For the deal to happen, however, Del Zotto would have to accept a substantial pay cut.
Can you imagine Steve Ott centering Martin St. Louis? The New York Rangers will have quite the different look next year, and the addition of Ott would give the Rangers a respected player in the locker room who plays his heart out every shift. After seeing St. Louis' success in New York, one has to think that Ott would also fit in quite comfortably.
Daniel Alfredsson still has more than enough skill to play in the NHL, but it's whether or not the Detroit Red Wings want him back that will be the deciding factor on whether or not he returns. Alfredsson has already stated that he doesn't want to put his family through another move, so it's either Alfredsson returns with the Red Wings or is forced to retire. I think I speak for most hockey fans when I say that I hope it's the former.
The Carolina Hurricanes, Winnipeg Jets and New Jersey Devils are the three teams that are reportedly interested in signing Dany Heatley to a one-year deal, but he fits best in Carolina. Heatley would be a top-six forward with the Canes, and playing alongside the Staal brothers could revitalize a guy who used to be one of the most dynamic goal scorers in the NHL. A line of Heatley-E. Staal-Semin would certainly cause problems for opposing teams.
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