Radim Vrbata — He had a forgettable 2015-16, scoring just 13 goals in 63 games for the Canucks. This after a great 2014-15, when he had 31 goals and an All-Star Game appearance. The big difference was linemates. Vrbata played most of his first season in Vancouver with Henrik Sedin or Nick Bonino as his center, and it went well. His second one was mostly with Bo Horvat or Jared McCann, and there just wasn’t chemistry with the youngsters. In the “right situation,” he could put up 20 goals again and nobody would be too surprised.
Jiri Hudler — Like Vrbata, he had a great 2014-15 (31 goals) and a less great 2015-16 (16 goals). But Hudler still put up 46 points in 72 games last season, and that’s not too shabby. Granted, he didn’t have a very productive postseason for the Panthers, finishing with just one assist in six games, and that probably didn’t help him on July 1. But Hudler is still only 32, three years younger than Vrbata. He’s got some hockey left in him.
Brandon Pirri — He’s only 25 and he has 49 goals in 166 NHL games. That’s the good part. The major red flag is the fact he’s already been traded twice, first in 2014 from Chicago to Florida, then in February from Florida to Anaheim. Pirri may never be great defensively. In fact, he may never be good defensively. But perhaps on a deeper team where he could be sheltered a bit, he’d be a worthwhile gamble (for a cap hit that could be buried in the minors if it doesn’t work out.)
James Wisniewski — With Jason Demers off the market, Wisniewski might be the best available right-shot defenseman. (Other options include Justin Schultz, Luke Schenn, and Eric Gryba.) The risk is that Wisniewski barely played last season (and we mean barely), but don’t forget that he put up 51 points for Columbus in 2013-14. If he’s healthy — and that’s obviously the big if in his case — he could be a nice comeback story.
Jhonas Enroth — It’s hard to blame the 28-year-old for being upset with how little he played last season for the Kings, considering he finished with a solid .922 save percentage in 16 appearances. But he wasn’t one of the many goalies who found new teams on July 1, and now his options are limited. On the bright side, the two other California teams, Anaheim and San Jose, still need a backup, so maybe he won’t have to move far.