We’re well into Day 7 of the 2012 free agent market and it’s no surprise that most of the desirable players have already inked new contracts, but there’s still a few good – or at least interesting players – out there.
With that in mind, here’s a list of the three biggest names left on the UFA market. I’ll say upfront that I decided to cheat and not include Teemu Selanne, simply because right now he seems to be debating between retiring and re-signing with the Anaheim Ducks.
He’d be a great addition to any team, but for the moment at least, there hasn’t been much to suggest he’s seriously considering finishing his NHL career with any team other than Anaheim.
Shane Doan — He’s a gritty, top-six forward with leadership experience. He’ll turn 36 on Oct. 10, but he’s reach the 50-point mark in each of his last nine seasons. So why hasn’t he signed yet?
He likes playing in Glendale, but he’s tired of playing for a team that’s been stuck in limbo from an ownership perspective. He wanted to wait until July 9 to see how things go with prospective Coyotes buyer Greg Jamison before deciding if he would re-sign with Phoenix or start looking for a new home.
If he decides to leave, the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers might be among the teams looking for him.
Alexander Semin — Semin is probably the most intriguing free agent of the 2012 class. He’s surpassed the 70-point mark three times and even in a bad season he’s good for at least 20 goals and 50 points.
Really, it seems to be his reputation that’s kept him on the market for this long. As Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford recently put it:
“We would look at Semin on a short-term basis. We wouldn’t want to get locked in to anything, because we’ve all heard the stories about him. We do like his skill level. It could be that we could bring him in for a year, get to know him and go from there in terms of considering something longer term.”
Adrian Dater of the Denver Post suggested that there also appears to be a significant disconnect between what Semin wants and what teams are willing to give him.
At this point, short of going back to the KHL, it sounds like a one-year deal might be his best option. It would give him a chance to prove himself in a new market and maybe get a big deal in the summer of 2013.
Personally, I think any mediocre franchise should be interested in signing him to such a contract. If he lives up to the team’s worst fears, then they can take comfort in knowing that they probably weren’t going to be a serious Stanley Cup contender in 2012-13 anyways. If he bounces back, then he can be dealt to a contender at the trade deadline.
Peter Mueller — Eliminating Selanne from eligibility took away the obvious third choice, so I decided to go off the board. Mueller has been plagued by concussion symptoms and he only played in 32 games last season after missing the entire 2010-11 campaign.
Still, when healthy, he’s a top-six forward and those are hard to find on the open market at this point. He’s likely to get a cheap, one-year deal, so the risk will be minimal compared to the significant potential reward. On top of that, he’s only 24, so if he does bounce back, the team that took a chance on him will get the first shot of locking him up to a long-term deal.
Honorable mentions: Carlo Colaiacovo, Andrei Kostitsyn, Kyle Wellwood, Petr Sykora