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‘The best of what’s left’

Sportsnet's Luke Fox has been monitoring the fates of the "NHL's Top 10 Unrestricted Free Agents"--with an emphasis on those who remain on the marketplace--The Score's Thomas Drance has penned a list of 3 categories of "cheap free agent gambles that pay off year after year," and while general managers are most likely "at the lake" or golf course right now (World Junior Selection camps begin in August and the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in the Czech Republic kicks off the 2014-2015 scouting season), both Fox, Drance and ESPN's Craig Custance duly note that there are some bargains out there.

Said players tend to have to reduce their asking prices and may end up waiting until training camps begin to find their NHL homes, but the Devin Setoguchis, Tomas Vokouns, Dustin Penners, Daniel Winniks, etc. do tend to make significant impacts eventually...

And Custance's Insider-only entry leads off with a player who may or may not fit into the "best player who played outside of the NHL last season" category:

It’s gone quiet right now in hockey, but teams are now starting to look at the best of what’s left on the free-agent market. Nashville grabbed two centers this week, Derek Roy and Mike Ribiero. The New York Rangers gave a two-year deal to Matthew Lombardi. Teams aren’t necessarily waiting until September.

“There’s a few players that teams are starting to call on to round out the roster,” said one agent on Wednesday. “They go through the initial blast of free agents, then it gets quiet. Then they get into arbitrations and qualifying offers.”

The players remaining have question marks, but that’s why they’re still out there. And that’s why there’s potential for value in a cap world where every dollar counts. Here’s a look at the latest on some of the best unrestricted free agents on the market.

Peter Mueller, Kloten -- After playing with the Arizona Coyotes, Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers to start his NHL career, Mueller spent last season in the Swiss league and led the league with 24 goals in 49 games. He’ll be back in the NHL this season and is currently weighing an offer from at least one team. He scored 22 goals as a 19-year-old for the Coyotes in 2007-08 after they made him the No. 8 overall pick in the 2006 draft. He has size (6-foot-2) and is still just 26 years old. Before he left for Switzerland, he showed strong puck possession skills with the Panthers in 2012-13, with Florida controlling 52.6 percent of the shot attempts at even strength when he was on the ice. There’s definitely interest in the Minnesota native; it’s going to come down to the right fit for where he wants to resume his NHL career.

Custance continues, discussing the possible fates of David Booth, Daniel Winnik, Martin Brodeur, Devin Setoguchi, Tomas Vokoun and Dustin Penner.

Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: daniel+winnik, david+booth, devin+setoguchi, dustin+penner, martin+brodeur, peter+mueller, tomas+vokoun


awould's avatar

Mueller could go either way. He’s had a patchy career on some pretty average to mediocre teams. He seems to me like that guy that gets thrown into the league too young, rides on talent for a bit and then fails when talent isn’t enough without the work ethic.

There were high hopes for him here in Phoenix. I’ll be interested to see where he lands.

Posted by awould on 07/17/14 at 11:18 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

Mueller feels like the Brad Stuart of forwards. He’s looked at as mediocre because he was picked high and expectations of more scoring prowess came with the high draft slot. But if you actually look at what they do on the ice and the players they developed into, they are both very good players that have carved out areas where they excel.

Of course we have hindsight on Weiss last season, but what looks better to Wings fans—Weiss on his current deal as a 2nd (and occasional 3rd) line center, or Mueller on a million or two per year deal in the same spot?

I think he’s a good value player. Could be a great pickup especially for a Cup contender that needs to add depth that can play center. Just wait for it, Jim Nill will sign this guy for a million bucks to regularly play LW, while adding flexibility to have him for size down the middle, and he’ll score 15 goals and 45 points and be a plus player that takes PK shifts.

Damn you, Jim Nill. Damn you.

Posted by Nathan from wasting perfect passes from my teammates on 07/18/14 at 09:47 AM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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