Sunday, July 08, 2007

Best of the Rest Available

Well, it only took a week to get rid of many of the good available free agents off the market. Going into Week Two of the Free Agency marketplace, this will be a list of who is left by the way they ranked in last year's pool rankings. There's still two players available from the original post and they'll be our first two on the list, of course. There are only three players left who finished in the Top 100 in 2006/07... add six more for the Top 200... and three more in the Top 300. As you can see, a lot of the top talent who was available are already gone. Here now, is the best of the rest.

Teemu Selanne remains on the list, as he hasn't decided whether or not to come back next year. Selanne will more than likely re-sign with the Ducks if he decides to come back, despite the Ducks already starting to fill gaps. It shouldn't be too long before we can tell you what he has decided and I'm sure there are a lot of fans in Anaheim who are eagerly anticipating whether or not the Ducks will see the Finnish Flash or not. At 48 goals and a Stanley Cup ring, it would be a fitting way to finish on top, but there's enough of an argument for him to come back and still be able to produce.

The second player on the original list is Sheldon Souray. Souray was expected to be one of the big splashes in the first couple days, but has deferred signing a new deal somewhere until later. He was probably the subject of many great offers from all over the map. However, the drama of where he'll land is still quite intriguing, because where ever he lands, that power play gets a giant shot in the arm and production from the point will go up. There's a lot of speculation he might make a California team a little bit better, but there is still a chance he could re-sign with the Canadiens. We eagerly anticipate his destination.

Brendan Shanahan is another one of these free-agents that wants to re-sign with his previous team, in this case, the New York Rangers. The Rangers have spent quite a bit of dough already in the first week of the buying period, but still have quite a bit of room to make a spot for Shanahan. If the Rangers decide against re-signing Shanahan, he'll be a very popular guy among other GM's in the league. There probably already has been some offers to the 38 year-old winger, but he has said publicly that he wants to remain in the Big Apple. Shanahan finished last season with 29 goals and 62 points, which put him 86th in the pool rankings. In a deep pool, he should be a comfortable 3rd round pick where ever he ends up.

Off-season troubles with the law in Florida may be very costly to Ed Belfour's career. With Tomas Vokoun arriving in Florida this summer, Belfour has been served notice that even if he re-signed with the Panthers, he would not see many games. Belfour is only on this list because he did finish 119th on the list, but this wouldn't be a big surprise if he retired because of no offers. He will be 42 when the season starts and age should be yet another factor for retirement, but when the word actually comes down, that's when we can all believe it. I don't think it'll be too long before you hear his name in the retirement announcements.

You know, I really should have thought twice about this list as another retirement possibility rears his ugly head. Not saying that Peter Forsberg is ugly, but the possibilty of him returning to Sweden is. Forsberg who has many a health concern, has been contemplating not coming back to the NHL as his numbers dwindled thanks to injuries. His effectiveness in Philly was down considerably and he may not have the same confidence he once had in Colorado. He only managed 13 goals and 55 points for the Flyers last season and would still be somewhat desireable to some GMs... at a discount, of course. Word will slowly trickle down to everyone what he decides.

The New York Islanders bought out 149th place, Alexei Yashin and became an Unrestricted Free Agent. Yashin, had a long-term deal to play out, but the Islanders decided to take on the cap responsibility and cut him loose. He scored 18 goals and 50 points for the Islanders, which is a long way away from some of his better years. Yashin could provide a team with a good second line centre and even some leadership support... if he's in a happy mood. Some team will eventually settle on Yashin to fill a hole, but it may be a while before his price comes down to something reasonable. In the marketplace, his position in the pool rankings is worth anywhere between $2.5 million to $3.6 million. Most GMs will try for something lower, I'd assume.

40 year-old Curtis Joseph is watching all the starting jobs disappear before his very eyes and will also have trouble finding a job for next season, unless the Coyotes want him back for one more season. Joseph played in 55 games last season, only winning 18 games. He finished 175th in pool rankings, which is quite low for a starting goaltender. The Coyotes have a decision to make... whether or not Mikael Tellqvist or David Leneveu can take the number one job going into camp. Leneveu will probably get a long look in camp, as he is the best prospect for the job and could very well take it. That leaves Joseph out in the cold looking for some new work.

Journeyman Martin Gelinas makes the list going into Week Two and could generate some interest later on in the summer when a team or two thinks to themselves, 'All we need is some veteran leadership.' Gelinas played all 82 games last season, scoring 14 goals and registering 44 points to put him 179th on the list, which is up from back-to-back seasons at 204th. When a guy plays every game, you get a good amount of production from him. Gelinas will bring a lot to the table when a team comes calling, it will just be a matter of time before it all happens for him.

Jeff O'Neill makes the list of aging hipsters that are looking for a new job. He still managed to pot 20 goals last season for the Leafs and he finished 191st in pool scoring, which kept him pretty honest. Age-wise, O'Neill is only 31 and should still provide some good minutes for a team in need of a winger. O'Neill was also a plus player for the Leafs, finishing the year +1, and does provide a decent face-off prowess when his centreman is kicked out of the circle. Much like Gelinas before him, he'll be a guy on a GM's list when teams are looking to put the last piece of the puzzle in place. Will he help teams win Cups? It hasn't really been apparent. Should he be considered in your pool selections? I think so... he can be a good late round forward when you're putting the last piece of the puzzle in place.

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