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Listing the best remaining free agents as training camps begin

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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.

Phaneuf burned on Zetterberg game-winner in Sens debut

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A day after getting traded out of Toronto, Dion Phaneuf made his Ottawa Senators debut.

It ended with a 3-1 road loss for the Senators, and Phaneuf getting burned by Henrik Zetterberg on the eventual game winner early in the third period.

Zetterberg picked up the puck near the Ottawa blue line, beat Phaneuf to the outside, slipped the puck under the stick of the Sens’ newest blue liner and quickly roofed his shot on Craig Anderson.

“He made a real good play and you’ve got to give credit when credit is due,” Phaneuf told the Ottawa Sun.

“I put my stick there, he put (the puck) under and he made a good shot. I’ve got to have a better stick in that situation, but you’ve got to give him credit for that play.”

Phaneuf finished the night with a minus-one rating and two hits in almost 22 minutes of ice time, putting him second among Sens defensemen in that category behind Erik Karlsson, who played a whopping 33:30.

Phaneuf drilled Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser with a hard slap shot early in the third period.

DeKeyser played one more shift — all of 10 seconds — before exiting the game.

Video: Rangers shut out red-hot Sidney Crosby and the Penguins

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The New York Rangers are likely too far behind the Washington Capitals to take any legitimate run at the Atlantic Division down the stretch.

But winners now of four straight, the Rangers have opened up a bit of a gap between them and other Eastern Conference teams in the playoff race. New York scored a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners in six of their last seven games, on Wednesday.

In the process, they held a red-hot Sidney Crosby off the score sheet, which has been a difficult, sometimes impossible task for opposing teams since about the middle of December. He entered this game with a seven-game scoring streak.

(In fact, New York held No. 87 to without a shot on goal in the entire game.)

Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 34 shots he faced for the shutout.

Kevin Hayes gave the Rangers the lead in the first period, before Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast put the game away in the third.

Pittsburgh remains in the second Wild Card spot in the East. The Rangers now move three points clear of the rival Islanders for second in the Metropolitan.

Video: Wideman hearing ‘a tricky case’ as NHLPA hopes to get 20-game suspension reduced

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There is no certain timeline for when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman might rule on Dennis Wideman‘s appeal, according to a report from hockey insider Darren Dreger on NBCSN, as the Calgary Flames defenseman hopes to get his 20-game ban for hitting linesman Don Henderson reduced.

“Now, ultimately what they’re hoping from a Wideman perspective and the Players’ Association is that commissioner Gary Bettman will rule and he will reduce the number of games suspended down from 20,” said Dreger during a segment on NBCSN.

“Is he going to reduce it by three games? Five games seems a bit of a stretch. And when might he do that? There’s no timeline on this.”

Report: Coyotes shut down Vitale (concussion) for the season

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Joe Vitale will not play again this season.

The Arizona Coyotes have shut Vitale down for the remainder of the 2015-16 campaign due to “concussion-related issues,” according to a report from Sarah McLellan of azcentral sports on Wednesday.

Vitale, a 30-year-old veteran center, appeared in only one game for the Coyotes this season. That was back on Oct. 17, when he suffered a concussion and broken orbital bone in a fight with Kevan Miller of the Boston Bruins.