Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 7/11/14
Many of the top NHL free agents have been signed to new contracts since the market opened on July 1, but there are still several quality players who remain unsigned. Teams that need forward depth, specifically on the third and fourth lines, should be able to find a player who can provide additional scoring and grit without paying a steep price. Let’s take a look at the five-best unrestricted free agents available. 5) Daniel Winnik Age: 29 Position: Center/Left Wing 2013-14 cap hit: $1.8 million Winnik is a quality bottom-six forward who could provide valuable scoring depth as a left-handed shot capable of playing down the middle or on the wings. His penalty-killing skill, good size (6-foot-2, 210 pounds) and decent speed also should help him land a job in the near future. He tallied 30 points (six goals, 24 assists) in 79 games for the Anaheim Ducks last season. 4) Lee Stempniak Age: 31 Position: Right wing 2013-14 cap hit: $2.5 million Stempniak is a bottom-six forward who provides depth scoring, grit, leadership and experience. He tallied 34 points (12 goals, 22 assists) in 73 games between the Calgary Flames and Pittsburgh Penguins in 2013-14. He would be a good fit on a team in need of a sniper on the third line. Stempniak doesn’t have blazing speed, but he makes up for it with a high hockey IQ and smart, accurate passes. 3) Mike Ribeiro Age: 34 Position: Center 2013-14 cap hit: $5.5 million Ribeiro’s value hasn’t been this low in a long time. He’s coming off an abysmal first season with the Arizona Coyotes that led to the team buying him out last month due to behavioral concerns. On the right team, Ribeiro would be a good second or third-line center, and he’s also proven to be a reliable point-producer on the power play. He’s only one year removed from posting 49 points in 48 games for the Washington Capitals during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign. Ribeiro still is a quality playmaker capable of tallying 10-15 goals and consistently creating scoring opportunities for teammates. 2) Derek Roy Age: 31 Position: Center 2013-14 cap hit: $4 million Roy would be a depenable third our fourth line center for a team lacking depth and offensive skill down the middle. He’s not the 60-point player we saw in Buffalo, but the veteran forward could still tally 25-40 points as a playmaking center. Roy isn’t terrible defensively and would provide valuable leadership for a young team. He also has 49 games of playoff experience. 1) Michael Del Zotto Age: 24 Position: Defensman 2013-14 cap hit: $2.55 million It’s a little surprising that Del Zotto remains unsigned. He’s a promising offensive talent, but after tallying 41 points for the New York Rangers during the 2011-12 season, he’s posted just 37 points over his last 113 games. Del Zotto has good mobility, can create scoring chances on the power play and skates really well. The concern with Del Zotto is his defensive game. He’s not a physical player, gets caught out of position often and loses a lot of 1-on-1 puck battles along the boards and in the corners.Filed under: NHL, Nicholas Goss, Top Stories
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