By Shane Darrow on July 8, 2014
The first week of NHL free agency is in the books, but there is still plenty of talent available on the open market. Here are the top 10 talents still available.
Martin Brodeur may be 42 years old, but he is still more than capable of being a stable backup goaltender in the NHL. If the goalie market wasn't so thin right now, Brodeur would have been signed immediately. Signing Brodeur would be much less of a risk than relying on an unproven goaltender, but his age is definitely a red flag for most NHL teams.
Mike Ribeiro was reportedly bought out by the Arizona Coyotes due to off-ice issues, so there's no doubt that signing him would be a risk, but Ribeiro is a proven talent who has 97 points in his last 128 games. Ribeiro is a left-handed shot that could be utilized on either a team that is desperate for a scoring threat on the power play or any team trying to add some depth down the middle.
Tomas Vokoun missed all of last season after undergoing surgery to dissolve a blood clot in his pelvis, but he proved with the Pittsburgh Penguins that he can step up when needed. Vokoun is four years younger than Martin Brodeur and could still play up to 60 games per season if something were to happen to the starting goaltender. He's currently the best available option between the pipes.
Derek Roy will likely be with his fifth team in four years, but he is still capable of 40 points per season and is another player who could add some depth down the middle of the ice for a team that needs a second- or third-line center. Even though he has had some injury issues, Roy is more than worth the risk on a one- or two-year deal.
Critics will say that Dustin Penner only had three points in 18 games with the Washington Capitals, but he is a player who will bring a winning background and physical presence to a locker room in need of an identity change. Penner has two Stanley Cup rings and would be a great guy to have in the bottom-six of the lineup.
After the Pittsburgh Penguins acquired Lee Stempniak from the Calgary Flames, he showed that he can still be a force in the NHL. Mostly playing alongside Sidney Crosby, Stempniak had 11 points in 21 games but eventually fell into the bottom-six rotation. With over 600 NHL games under his belt, Stempniak is worthy of a multi-year contract to a team that needs a right-handed shot on the third line.
Michael Del Zotto is only 24 years old and is this high on the list because of his tremendous upside. There's no doubt that he has struggled over the last two seasons, but he has proven that he is a defenseman capable of helping on the offensive side of the ice. Put him with a veteran blueliner who can cover for his aggressive tendencies and Del Zotto could once again be a top-4 defenseman.
The former captain of the Buffalo Sabres really struggled offensively with the St. Louis Blues, but Ott's appeal is due more to his leadership and grit than his scoring touch. Ott has drawn interest from a few clubs, including the Sabres, but a return to the team that gave him the "C" is looking more and more unlikely as the free agency period continues.
Even at the ripe age of 42, Daniel Alfredsson can still play at a high enough level to impact any NHL franchise. His locker room presence alone would be worth a one-year deal, but Aldredsson will most likely either stay with the Detroit Red Wings or call it a career and hang up his skates.
Dany Heatley may be coming off a poor season with the Minnesota Wild, but he is still capable of putting together a 20-goal, 50-point year if placed in the right circumstances. Heatley will have to prove that he can still play at an elite level, but his ability being questioned could very well be the motivation he needs. The upside? He had back-to-back 50-goal seasons with the Ottawa Senators and is yet to lose his scoring touch.
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