From mid-August onward, the free agents remaining on the market tend to start signing either short-term deals or agree to pro try-outs--and with the NHL's teams "capped out" in large part due to the almost-flat salary cap, and the Columbus Dispatch's Aaron Portzline notes that there are still some solid free agents out there:
-- Veteran defenseman Sergei Gonchar will attend camp with the Pittsburgh Penguins on a professional tryout offer. That's the best the 41-year-old could do. You wonder if other established NHL players might go the similar route. It's a bit of a gamble -- take the low-ball offers on the table now, or go to somebody camp without a contract, wait for the inevitable injuries to crop up around the league, and sign a deal that's right. Among the NHL players still out there: forwards Daniel Briere, Curtis Glencross, Stephen Weiss, Martin Erat, Martin Havlat, Brenden Morrow, Daniel Cleary, Olli Jokinen, Tomas Fleishmann, Erik Cole, Michael Ryder, B.J. Crombeen, Jiri Tlusty, Sean Bergenheim, Tyler Kennedy, Marcel Goc and Scottie Upshall, and defenseman Cody Franson, Jan Hejda, Andrej Meszaros, Marek Zidlicky, Bryan Allen, Eric Brewer, Michal Roszival, John Erskine, Keith Ballard, Tim Gleason and David Schlemko.
-- What would you think of this club?
F1: Curtis Glencross – Steppen Weiss - Daniel Briere
F2: Martin Havlat – Olli Jokinen – Michael Ryder
F3: Martin Erat – Tomas Fleischmann – Brenden Morrow
F4: Erik Cole – Marcel Goc - B.J. Crombeen
extras: Tyler Kennedy, Jiri Tlusty
D1: Christian Ehrhoff – Andrej Meszaros
D2: Jan Hejda – Cody Franson
D3: Tim Gleason – Marek Zidlicky
extra: John Erskine
G1: Josh Harding
G2: Jonas Gustavsson
G3: Ray Emery
OK, you've got some goaltending issues. And, yes, this group would look a lot better, say, in 2008-09 than it does now. But that, friends, is the the current all-UFA team. How many games does that team win?