Top 15 remaining NHL free agents
1. Radim Vrbata: Despite being linked to upwards of four teams, Radim Vrbata has not signed anywhere yet. The right wing is older but is only one season removed from 30 goals. He struggled last year putting up only 27 points in 63 games, but almost all Canucks players struggled. Vrbata can still fill a middle-six scoring role on a playoff team.
2. Jiri Hudler: Much like Vrbata, Hudler is only one year removed from a fantastic season. After being dealt to Florida at the trade deadline, Hudler put up solid numbers with 11 points in 19 games. However, he was practically invisible during the playoffs, having only one assist in six games. Some teams may shy away due to Hudler’s size.
3. Kris Russell: Russell was traded to Dallas at the trade deadline for a first round pick and Jyrki Jokipakka, but still has not found work this summer. The consensus on Russell changes depending who you talk to. He can either be a shot blocking wizard or an analytical disaster. Many teams have expressed interest in Russell but no paperwork has been signed. Among the linked include three Canadian franchises — Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver.
4. Brandon Pirri: The young forward, traded to Anaheim at the deadline, did not receive a qualifying offer from the Ducks and still remains a free agent. Pirri was a second round pick by Chicago in 2009 and has shown flashes of brilliance during his short career. In the 2014-2015 season, he scored 20 goals. His recent struggles may deter some, but Pirri is well worth a contract regardless. In the right situation, he will have the chance to thrive and make the investment completely worth it.
5. Kyle Quincey: With young players coming up through Detroit’s system, Kyle Quincey was unable to return. Quincey is not known for putting up big offensive numbers, but he is still a respectable defenseman. At 30 years old, I’d suspect he gets a tryout deal somewhere.
6. Christian Ehrhoff: Like Quincey, it’s likely Ehrhoff gets a tryout deal from a team. He is 34 and hasn’t broken ten goals since 2010-2011 with Vancouver, but can still be utilized as a puck moving defenseman. Ehrhoff was unable to stick with Chicago or Los Angeles last season.
7. Jiri Tlusty: Tlusty has struggled mightily the past two seasons, but still has the ability to contribute if placed in the correct situation. He had three good years with Carolina before a rough two seasons split between Winnipeg and New Jersey. It’s possible he gets a tryout, but going overseas seems more likely.
8. Nick Spaling: Spaling wasn’t able to find a home with Nashville, Pittsburgh, or Toronto, but played decently with San Jose on their playoff run. Spaling has the ability to play both center and wing and could be a valuable asset for a team in need of offensive depth.
9. Lucas Lessio: Lessio, 23, was traded to Montreal mid-season last year, but was not given a qualifying offer. He has only played in 41 NHL games and has put up 7 points in that time. Lessio can fit into a bottom-six role as a body checker. It is likely Lessio gets a two-way deal somewhere and starts in the AHL.
10. David Jones: Jones, like many others on this list, faced adversity last season despite having success in the years prior. Jones is only two seasons removed from 30 points. Injuries limited him to 16 games last year. Jones is another candidate to receive a tryout offer.
11. David Legwand: A second overall pick in 1998, Legwand is coming to the tail end of his career. He struggled to find a definitive spot in Buffalo, but played in 79 games scoring 14 points regardless. Legwand has never put up flashy offensive numbers in his career, but can still be relied upon defensively and in the locker room.
13. Justin Fontaine: Fontaine is 28 and played in three full seasons for Minnesota before being let go. He has 68 points in 197 career games. As a speedy player, Fontaine can excel in a bottom-six scoring role. Like Pirri, he would be a worthwhile investment for cheap.
14. Steve Bernier: Bernier played in a depth role for the Islanders last year and only appeared in 24 regular season games. In that time, he scored one goal. However, two seasons ago, Bernier lead the Devils in goals with 16. If a team is looking for a combination of scoring and physical play, Bernier is the guy.
15. Karri Ramo: Ramo is the only goalie on this list. He was a part of the abysmal Flames goaltending tandem with Jonas Hiller last season. It is certainly a tough market for goalies, so it’s unlikely Ramo finds a job. He’ll likely be heading back overseas.
Some players that could’ve been on this list include Patrik Elias, Dan Boyle, Matt Cullen, and Dominic Moore. All four of those players are older and facing retirement. It is more likely than not that they go for that route rather than bouncing to another city in North America.
Kris Versteeg was also excluded after he signed in Europe. Jonas Enroth, who is reported to have signed with Toronto, was also excluded.