The NHL season is fast approaching. Most of the big name unrestricted free agents have been inked to new deals and are aware of what team they will be suiting up for during the 2013-14 season. However, there are still a number of players out there without deals. What follows are five of the best available unrestricted free agents that are currently find themselves on the outside looking in.
In his first four seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs Grabovski put up point totals of 48, 35, 58 and 51. Those numbers earned him a five-year contract extension with the club that was worth $27.5 million. When Grabovski delivered 16 (9 G, 6 A) points during the first year of that deal, the Maple Leafs sent him packing, buying out his contract.
When asked about the buyout on TSNRadio 1050, Grabovski did not hold back:
I played [expletive] five years here. I’m supposed to feel upset about that. I loved it [here]. Toronto fans are one of the best fans in the world.”
I play in the [expletive] Russian KHL, I make lots of [expletive] points and what’s going to happen? He make me [expletive] play on the fourth line and he put me in the playoffs on the fourth line and third line again. Yeah, I don’t score goals. I need to work more about that. I know that. But if you feel support from your coach [you’ll find success]. I don’t feel any support from this [expletive] idiot.
The “idiot” in question is Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle.
Grabovski has shown he has talent, it’s shocking that he remains without a deal. One of the reasons he’s without a team may be how quickly he threw his former coach under the bus, that’s something prospective employers usually do not like to see.
Another reason may be that Grabovski is looking for a deal close to what he got from the Leafs. That’s not going to happen, especially when teams know he’s flush with buyout cash.
Expect Grabovski to get picked up before the season starts, but don’t look for him to get an especially long or lucrative deal.
Brunner signed a one-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings prior to the 2012-13 season. When play finally got under way for the lockout shortened season he wasted no time in scoring, putting in the game winning shootout goal in just his second contest. In his third game, he scored his first regulation goal. All told, Brunner scored 12 goals and added 14 assists for the Wings. Not too bad, that is unless you consider the fact that only two of those goals came in the final 25 games of the season.
Brunner did pick things back up during the playoffs, scoring nine points (5 G, 4 A) in 14 games, but it’s that stretch of two in 25 that is scary.
There’s no doubt that Brunner can score goals, but he’s going to need to show that he can do so consistently before he lands a hefty or lengthy deal.
Expect Brunner to sign a one-year deal at a bargain basement rate.
Prospal led the Columbus Blue Jackets both on and off the ice during the 2012-13 season. Prospal’s 30 points (12 G, 18A) were tops on the team. The veteran player also added some much needed accountability off the ice. The result was that the Blue Jackets were just a tiebreaker away from making the playoffs.
Prospal found himself the odd-man out in Columbus this summer. That may have had something to do with both his age (38) and the amount of money he earned last season ($2.5 million).
Prospal has been around the NHL, playing for seven teams over the course of 1,108 games. I would expect him to get picked up for the 2013-14 season, as he can lend leadership and goal scoring, two things that are always in demand in the NHL.
It seems like we have been down this road a number of times. A new NHL season is approaching, and Selanne is without a deal. If you think that’s because he can’t find a team to sign with, you better think again. You’d be hard pressed to find a single team in the league that wouldn’t be happy to make room for Selanne and his 1430 career points (675 G, 755 A).
No, the problem is that the 43-year old Selanne doesn’t know if he will return for another season in the NHL. If he does lace up the skates for his 21st NHL season, expect it to be with the team he has played for since the 2005-06 season, the Anaheim Ducks.
Morrow is a former captain of the Dallas Stars. He was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins late last season and gave the Pens 14 points (6 G, 8 A) in 15 regular season games and added four points in the playoffs.
Morrow’s days of 60-70 points a season may be behind him, but he’s still got some game left in his 34-year old body, and his leadership skills will go a long way. The problem for Morrow is that he’s going to have a hard time finding a team that will be willing to pay him the $4.1 million he made on his last contract.
Like Prospal, expect this veteran player to be picked up for a short-term deal at a discount.