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Nashville Predators centre Jason Arnott shoots the puck on the Toronto Maple Leafs during second period NHL action in Nashville, Tennessee February 8, 2007.


Many of the players sitting idle on the NHL's unrestricted free-agent market possess the sort of experience valued more highly at a trading deadline than now.

Jason Arnott, who was in high demand last February, is still available, after the Washington Capitals chose not to bring him back.

Chris Drury and J.P. Dumont, bought out by the New York Rangers and Nashville Predators, respectively, are also looking for work, as are Cory Stillman, Brendan Morrison, Jamie Langenbrunner, Chris Clark, John Madden, Antti Miettinen, Kyle Wellwood, Rob Niedermayer, Steve Bernier, Mike Comrie, Steve Begin and Patrick O'Sullivan.

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It is a mixed bag, and features a handful of players who've won championships before (Langenbrunner, Stillman, Madden). Some, such as Morrison, are coming off decent seasons and still can't find work. When the Calgary Flames put Morrison on a line with Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay, things really clicked for them. When Morrison was lost for the season with a knee injury, the bottom fell out on the Flames.

Miettinen is a quality scorer, who is talking to Continental Hockey League teams in Russia after the Minnesota Wild determined not to bring him back.

Once upon a time, Bernier was a highly rated No. 1 draft choice with the San Jose Sharks and looked poised to evolve into a power forward. But after stops with the Vancouver Canucks and Florida Panthers, his stock has plunged.

The New York Rangers haven't signed Vaclav Prospal yet. But when you consider how well he played for them after coming back from an injury (23 points in 29 games) and his connection to new Rangers acquisition Brad Richards (they once played together on the Tampa Bay Lightning), you'd think he'll be returning to New York before too long.

Defencemen are in increasingly short supply on the market, but among those still available are Bryan McCabe, Steve Staois, Sami Lepisto, Paul Mara, Brent Sopel and Radek Martinek.

In goal, the Detroit Red Wings continue to look for a back-up, and the most prominent options appear to be Ty Conklin, Ray Emery and Marty Turco.

Mostly, the market was settling down Tuesday, with the fever that gripped the first 72 hours of free agency largely subsiding. Nowadays, the pattern is that teams will overpay to sign their young and the collateral damage is seen elsewhere, among the veterans still loitering on the free-agent fringes.

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At this stage, teams generally take a short breather and reassess their rosters - to see what remains out there and determine if there is a strategic fit among all the tried-and-true NHL veterans still searching for gainful employment.

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About the Author

Eric was the winner of the Hockey Hall Of Fame's Elmer Ferguson award for "distinguished contributions to hockey writing" in 2001. A graduate of the University of Western Ontario's grad school of journalism, he began covering hockey in 1978 and after spending 20 years covering the NHL and the Calgary Flames, joined The Globe in 2000. More

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