A Look at Where Key Free Agents Could Wind up
Washington Capitals 77 GP 21G-33A-54P
One of the easiest ways to explain Semin is the Randy Moss of the NHL. Sometimes he can make moves that are just plain nasty, looking like a younger version of Pavel Datsuyk. On other plays he looks like he’s lost, or just taking a break. There have also been repeated rumors of him being locker room cancer, with Capitals’ short term coach Dale Hunter calling him “a coach’s nightmare”. He also had a sub-par contract year. I think with solid leadership and coaching, something he never had in Washington, he could become the player we all see flashes of.
An article by NHL blogger Brian Stubits on CBSSports.com talks about a tweet from Slava Malamud that says CKSA Moscow of the KHL offered Semin a 3-year, 30-million dollar deal. Since Semin hasn’t agreed to such a huge deal, it shows he wants to stay in North America. Rumors have been wild since the Parise-Suter mega deal about who is in the hunt for Semin, though so far no solid news has come out. Look for him to take a major pay cut from the 6.7 million dollars he made last year.
Detroit Red Wings 74 GP 11G-13A-24P
At 39 years old, Holmstrom is nearing the end of his career and is no longer the scoring threat he once was, but no one on this earth is a bigger headache once he gets planted in front of the net. He was a key member of several Detroit championship teams, and honestly it’s a little bit shocking they are letting him go.
No team is complete without a veteran to show the ropes to the new kids, and Holmstrom could easily fill that role for a team still wet behind the ears like Winnipeg or St. Louis. No word has come out about offers to him or even teams he would be interested in playing for. While retirement or banishment to the KHL seems possible given his age and low scoring totals last season, I see him signing a one-year deal with someone and beating last year’s total. I see the best pest in the NHL setting out to give goalies nightmares for at least one more season.
Winnipeg Jets 77 GP 18G-29A-47P
Coming off a career best season with the Jets, Wellwood finds himself unemployed going into the offseason. The 29-year-old center has never really found a home during his professional hockey career, bouncing from Vancouver to Moscow and back to Winnipeg. Though honestly I think he should have found a home with the Jets, and the Jets should have kept him.
While playing for a team his almost no offensive punch he still managed to score a career-best 18 goals and give the new team some life on the ice. The Jets also lost role player Tanner Glass (who also scored career high points) during free agency to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Letting Wellwood walk would be a huge mistake for this young team who is desperately trying to cobble together a contender for their hockey mad fans. Wellwood is considered undersized for the NHL at 5’10 186lbs, but that hasn’t stopped other players his size from excelling (hint: Sidney Crosby is only 5’11 190lbs and ‘undersized’ is never a word used to describe him). The Jets would be crazy to let him slip away from them. Look for Wellwood to sign elsewhere though, as he has never played two seasons in the same place, at much more than the 700,000 dollars the Jets paid for him.
Anaheim Ducks 1W 5L 2.72 GAA
I know, they look like terrible stats, but no one ever said Ellis was a starter. Not to mention he lost much of last season to a nagging injury. Looking at the rest of the goalies left on the market (Brent Johnson, Ty Conklin, Alex Auld, and Dwayne Roloson) he is your best bet for a solid backup, and a much better option than some of the ones already signed to fill the hole between the pipes (I’m looking at you Detroit).
Last season may not have been his best, but after having time to rest and heal he would be good for 15-20 games a year. Look for him to be signed at the last minute, and possibly be the only goalie left on the free agent list to be signed at all.
Phoenix Coyotes 79G 22G-28A-50P
Just the fact that the career Jet/Coyote is still on the market shows maybe the Coyotes’ management have totally lost their minds. Doan was the leadership behind their huge postseason push last season (first time the Coyotes have ever made it past the first round, let alone play in a conference final) and has been the heart and soul of the franchise since it moved to Phoenix.
Letting him sign elsewhere shouldn’t be an option for the Coyotes, but that is what seems to be happening. Doan is getting up there in the years, and for the first time in his career playing for a contender is a real possibility. Detroit has been mentioned, though one more aging veteran is hardly what they need.
Even though there are a lot of teams out there that would want Doan’s services, and Doan no doubt wants a championship ring before he retires, I really can’t see him signing with anyone else but the Coyotes no matter how badly they are dragging their feet. Look for him to retire in Phoenix.
Anaheim Ducks 82GP 24G-40A-66P
I’m pretty sure Teemu Selanne stopped aging about five years ago. He is now 42 years old and has outscored every other person on this list, and registered more points than anyone else on his team. He is no doubt near the end of his long career, but how much more does he have left in the tank?
At this point everyone needs to stop wondering when he’s going to slow down, it’s just not going to happen. I think at this point we all need to start asking when he’s just going to get tired and walk away. He has been talking about retirement since he won the cup with the Ducks and never once have his numbers or on-ice performance shown that he should.
Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau recently stated in an article by Eric Stephen on ocregister.com “Indications are that I think he wants to come back, although I’m not 100 percent sure. I’m still counting on him to hopefully be back”
Look for Selanne to be back, hit at least 60 points again, and show all the heart broken Red Wings fans that players over 40 can not only lead a team in the locker room, but on the scoreboard as well.
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