The pickings were certainly slim when NHL free agency opened 10 days ago, and yet somehow teams managed to sign 95 unrestricted free agents and spend a whopping $494-million since Christian Ehrhoff became a Buffalo Sabre late on June 30.
There remain quite a few veterans still without jobs, however, and while half the league has $10-million or more in cap space to spend, the majority will likely choose not to do so and stay closer to the $48.3-million salary floor.
That leaves many of the 120 or so UFAs still out there in for what could be a long summer, waiting by the phone and hoping for a training camp tryout.
Here's my list of the best of those that are left, with an asterisk beside those who could decide to call it a career (I'll also cross out players as they've signed):
1. Teemu Selanne* - The Finnish Flash will stay with the Ducks or hang up his skates, but is by far the highest scoring player available, coming off an 80-point season. 2. Vinny Prospal - Still effective when healthy, Prospal had 58 points two years ago and can contribute quite a bit offensively. 3. Scott Hannan - Played well in Washington after a shaky start, but will have a tough time commanding the big money he was making on his last deal. 4. Bryan McCabe - Put in a reliable 20 minutes a night for the Panthers and is still a decent second option for the second power play unit.
5. Brendan Morrison - Continues to surface on this list despite dependable play for a bargain basement price last year in Calgary. 6. Ray Emery - Was terrific in a brief return after health problems threatened his career and is worth a gamble. 7. Sergei Samsonov - Only 32 years old, he can chip in 45 points in a depth role. 8. Cory Stillman - Looking for his seventh NHL team but isn't looking to retire at 37. 9. Ty Conklin - Struggled badly with the Blues last season but should rebound in backup role somewhere. 10. Nikolai Zherdev - You never know what you're going to get ...
11. Jack Hillen
12. Shane O'Brien 13. Anton Stralman 14. Brent Sopel 15. Paul Mara 16. Chris Drury 17. Mike Grier* 18. Kyle Wellwood 19. JP Dumont 20. John Madden* 21. Marty Turco 22. Mike Modano* 23. Alex Kovalev* 24. Chris Clark 25. Sami Lepisto 26. Fernando Pisani 27. Jeff Woywitka 28. Steve Bernier 29. Anssi Salmela 30. Pascal Leclaire
Others out there:
Chris Osgood*, Rob Schremp, Byron Bitz, Jarkko Ruutu, Brad Winchester, Ethan Moreau, Kris Draper*, Steve Eminger