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Listing the best remaining free agents as training camps begin

Sep 12, 2013, 8:37 PM EDT

thomasknublegetty Getty Images

With training camps kicking off and Ron Hainsey finally landing a gig, it seems like a good time to glance at the most appealing unrestricted free agents still on the market. Feel free to add others in the comments.

Tim Thomas – Yes, he has his warts – particularly missing a full season by choice – but the unorthodox goalie also has an impressive array of trophies on his resume. One would guess that the 39-year-old could come fairly cheap, too.

Ilya Bryzgalov – Speaking of a big-name netminder with some baggage, what about Breezy? Sure, things haven’t gone well lately, but Philadelphia has a reputation for eating goalies alive. He could be quite the reclamation project.

Vinny Prospal – Just two seasons ago, Prospal fell four points short of matching Rick Nash as the Columbus Blue Jackets’ scoring leader. The 38-year-old’s career .69 point-per-game average bests high-profile signings such as Dan Cleary (.43) and Mikhail Grabovski (.59) screams “bargain in the making.”

Brad Boyes – Quietly put up a statistically pleasant season for the New York Islanders in 2013, scoring 35 points in 48 games while logging more than 18 minutes per night. He’s scored 43, 33 and 26 goals in his best three seasons and shouldn’t be far past his prime at 31.

Damien Brunner – Yes, the 27-year-old only has one NHL season on his resume, but he showed flashes of brilliance, particularly when he scored nine points in 14 postseason games for the Detroit Red Wings.

Mason Raymond – Sure, he hasn’t produced the kind of numbers one might expect considering his outstanding speed, but he’s just 27 and showed a considerable peak with 25 goals in 2009-10.

Tom Gilbert – Things have been a little rocky lately, but it’s baffling that he doesn’t have an NHL job. Gilbert can log big minutes (22:33 minutes per game career average) and has one 45-point season and two more 30+ campaigns to his name. Plenty of gas in the tank at 30, too.

Brenden Morrow – Even though he’s lost a step or six from all that battling over the years, it’s strange to see the 34-year-old go from one of the most sought-after trade deadline commodities to a guy without an NHL contract. Maybe Mike Ribeiro will campaign for his former running mate to join him in Phoenix?

Ryan Whitney – Yes, his defensive play draws detractors (*raises hand*), yet it’s hard to imagine he can’t land at least a seventh defenseman role somewhere.  Not many active blueliners can claim a 59-point season, let alone unemployed ones.

(He is kind of a disaster in his own end, though.)

Honorable mentions/banged-up old guys: Kyle Wellwood, Simon Gagne, Wade Redden, Filip Kuba, Jose Theodore, Mike Knuble, Guillaume Latendresse and Milan Hejduk.

  1. dprouse - Sep 12, 2013 at 8:44 PM

    Most of these guys will go unsigned. At this point, teams will simply go young in the case of an injury as opposed to recycling one of these guys. Heck, the best offer Thomas has drawn is a tryout from the Panthers. He can

  2. lowenni - Sep 12, 2013 at 8:58 PM

    I agree that Prospal could be a bargain, and potentially the steal of free agency. The guy has flown under the radar throughout his career, and at 38 he’s still going. He can still put up AT LEAST 50 points. Real underrated guy because he’s been in Columbus the last few seasons, and I’m actually really surprised they didn’t resign him. He’d come on the cheap and they need the offense.

  3. hockeyflow33 - Sep 12, 2013 at 9:12 PM

    Did Ken Dryden take this much heat when he skipped a season by choice as well?

    • greenmtnboy31 - Sep 12, 2013 at 9:18 PM

      I like TT, but he’s not now nor ever has been at the level of Ken Dryden.

      • hockeyflow33 - Sep 12, 2013 at 11:33 PM

        I must have missed where I wrote that, maybe you can show me where.

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Sep 13, 2013 at 4:41 AM

      One very slight difference is that Dryden was in his mid-20s, not nearly 40.

  4. lowenni - Sep 12, 2013 at 9:15 PM

    Can anyone tell me a little bit about Tom Gilbert? Just wondering his style/deficincies/etc. Thanks.

    (I’m a Caps fan hoping for a top 4 D.)

    • gregman98 - Sep 12, 2013 at 10:13 PM

      Sad on two levels Iowenni: That you’re a Caps fan and you don’t seem to know how to use Google:

      You could start here: http://forecaster.thehockeynews.com/hockeynews/hockey/player.php?2994

      • hockeyflow33 - Sep 12, 2013 at 11:35 PM

        No kidding, what a jerk for asking for people’s educated opinions. Imagine if someone actually told him what to expect after watching Gilbert play for his team.

    • purpleguy - Sep 13, 2013 at 5:35 PM

      His rep is a decent offensive defenseman capable of clearing the puck out of the zone; however, last year with the Wild, he seemed slow, didn’t tolerate physical play well, and was poor in the defensive zone — became a real liability as the season wore on. Good guy though — for someone that graduated from WI.

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