(Ed. Note: In the coming days, we'll be taking a look at the unrestricted free agent crop for each position, because the old-boys network in the NHL prevents us from having real fun with restricted free agents.)
It's been said that the unrestricted free-agent crop is thin this summer, which is an understatement. It's pretty much Linsday Lohan on a hunger strike.
Look no further than the UFA right wingers, a group that boasts one legitimate legend in Teemu Selanne(notes); a few "singing for their supper" walk-year stats stars; a slew of third and fourth liners; and however you perceive Pavol Demitra(notes).
Here are 10 free-agent right wingers that, if your team signs them, shouldn't ruin your week.
We're leaving Selanne off this list because he's only signing with one team (Anaheim Ducks) barring the Winnipeg Jets coming back to the NHL next season, which ain't happening. We're also leaving Demitra off the list, because it's hard to imagine you'd be all smiles if that riddle wrapped in a conundrum wrapped in an increasingly fragile body came to town. And we're leaving Fernando Pisani(notes) off the list, because your life is probably already too frustrating for words.
And here ... we ... go.
His numbers plummeted in his walk year, from 40 points in 2008-09 (82 games) to 29 points (79 games) last season. He primarily played with rookie Evander Kane(notes) for the Atlanta Thrashers after spending time with the likes of Slava Kozlov(notes) and Ilya Kovalchuk(notes) in the previous season, so there you go.
Is he a game-breaker? No, but he is a 28-year-old winger who can play physically and do some good little things when he's ice cold on offense. Which, frankly, he's going to be from time to time.
I've always had a soft spot for Marek Svatos and I really wish he'd panned out with the Avs. There's so much potential there — little guy with skill, shooting ability and surprising dose of feisty. Svatos had 11 points last year and when guys like Matt Hendricks(notes) have more goals than you, your agent is going to have his work cut out for you. Svatos is still just 27 and still has the ability to regain some of that old Marek Magic. It won't be with Colorado, though. I think both parties will be looking for a fresh start here. I'm interested to see where Svatos lands this summer (there were rumors that Ottawa was interested in him at the deadline). I wonder if he might garner the most interest by a KHL club.
Might Svatos get more money in the KHL? Perhaps. It's the sort of B-grade offense player they love over there (and someone who conceivably would leave for the dough). But he's mighty talented, and could just be a change of scenery guy. (See also: Wojtek Wolski(notes).
Is it a leap of faith to assume Max is back after his 61-point resurrection with the Thrashers? Maybe, and especially because he was in a contract year. It appears he's going to test the waters; a long-term deal is dangerous, but a short-term high-yield contract might earn the same effort.
What, you don't think there's a market for a soon-to-be 40-year-old winger?
Guerin appears to be a Plan B for the Pittsburgh Penguins this offseason, depending on what they add at the wing position to the NHL roster. With 21 goals in the regular season and nine points in the postseason, there's clearly something left in the tank. Good locker room guy, veteran winner ... if it's not the Penguins, he doesn't retire and the money is right, why not?
His 14 goals in 18 games was a preposterous streak of offensive dominance. His zero goals in seven playoff games was, well, Lee Stempniak again. The Coyotes have eight UFAs to deal with, including Stempniak, so he could be available. As long as your team doesn't play in Toronto, he can help.
6. Miro Satan ('09/10 Cap Hit: $700,000)
He had 14 points in 38 regular-season games and then 10 in 13 playoff games with the Boston Bruins. Does Sea Bass want him back? No clue. But if he's on your roster, you know you'll get hard work, occasional big goals and goofy celebrations.
The Recchin' Ball wants to return to the Bruins, and it would appear they want him back too. If things fall apart, he could really help in the veteran leadership and undeniable tenacity departments. But he'll likely be a Bruin for the reasons presented in this annoying slideshow.
He's a lower-line bruiser who looks like a bouncer at a Northern Territories saloon. Like a player in NHL 94, his offensive repertoire consists of one good deke move and a few seeing-eye slapshots. But anyone that watched the Philadelphia Flyers' playoff run saw Asham as a momentum-changing winger who was great on the forecheck. If he's not back in Philly, he'll find another home.
Another ex-Leaf on the list, Mayers had six points in 27 games for the Calgary Flames last season. Hayley of the Flames blog Matchsticks and Gasoline evaluated him thusly, in comparison to fellow banger Brian McGrattan(notes):
Of all Flames forwards, the team had the worst corsi rate with Mayers on the ice at -11.37, and the best with him off the ice at +11.62. Mayers started in the offensive zone 53.8% and finished there only 49.6% of the time, the worst of all regular Flames forwards and the second-worst after Brett Sutter(notes) in his 10-game trial with the big club. Mayers' 55.6 faceoff winning percentage was likely his sole redeeming quality this season; Mayers was winning 56.8% of his faceoffs with the Leafs and taking 10.5% of his team's total draws, more than the 7.6% he was taking with the Flames, who finished the season third-worst in faceoff percentage at 48%. Mayers made $1.4M this past season, and I'm sure there's a team out there that will be willing to match that salary come July; I just hope it's not Calgary.
OK, so he's a 36-year-old defense liability. But he's also someone you can deploy as an anti-Carcillo countermeasure:
The scrappy fourth-liner played 76 games and was an effective checker until being slowed by injury (he had delightful double-hernia surgery this offseason). Will he back with the San Jose Sharks? Depends on their other cap considerations? Does he have pretty much the most inspirational sport of anyone on this list? Heck yes.