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Thirteen potential UFAs who figure to attract attention

Friday, 07.05.2013 / 9:00 AM
Dan Rosen  - NHL.com Senior Writer

The free-agent signing period is scheduled to begin at noon ET on Friday, but the pool of players to choose from became slightly diluted when Vincent Lecavalier agreed to terms with the Philadelphia Flyers, Danny Briere agreed to a deal with the Montreal Canadiens and Pascal Dupuis re-signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The window now is open for all 30 teams to talk to the players who could become unrestricted free agents Friday. The list is growing with more players being issued compliance buyouts.

With Lecavalier, Briere and Dupuis off the board, here is NHL.com's updated profile of the 13 most notable potential unrestricted free agents likely to be available Friday (listed in alphabetical order).

Tyler Bozak

It doesn't appear as if the Toronto Maple Leafs are too keen on paying Bozak's reported asking price of five years and roughly $5 million per season, so Phil Kessel's center is going to hit the open market despite ongoing negotiations between his agent and Toronto general manager Dave Nonis.

Bozak likely will be a sought-after player because of his ability to play first- or second-line center. The question to ask with him is how much did he benefit from playing with Kessel and how much did Kessel benefit from playing with Bozak. If it's more the former, than there are some extra red flags being waived with Bozak, who will join Mike Ribeiro and Stephen Weiss as the top centers available.

The Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues are two teams that have been linked with Bozak. Interestingly, the Dallas Stars are another, and it could be a fit since Bozak could be slotted in as the No. 2 center behind newly acquired Tyler Seguin.

Ilya Bryzgalov

It will be interesting to see if any team takes a flyer on the eccentric former Flyers goalie, who was issued a compliance buyout despite having seven years and $35.5 million left on a nine-year, $51 million contract.

Bryzgalov became as well-known for his off-ice eccentricities as his play on the ice during his two seasons with the Flyers. He also won 52 games over two seasons but couldn't help the Flyers reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2012-13, when he appeared in 40 of 48 games and posted a 2.79 goals-against average and .900 save percentage.

The Edmonton Oilers reportedly pushed for Cory Schneider before the Vancouver Canucks traded him to the New Jersey Devils, so maybe they'll be in the market for Bryzgalov. The New York Islanders haven't re-signed Evgeni Nabokov, so it's conceivable that if he leaves, they could inquire about Bryzgalov.

David Clarkson

Clarkson scored 15 goals in 48 games for the Devils in 2012-13 and 30 goals in 80 games in 2011-12. He is reliable and resilient, having missed two games during the past three seasons. He's coming off a three-year, $8 million contract, which was somewhat of a bargain for a 30-goal scorer who brings a physical element.

The Devils want Clarkson back, but he is testing the market to see what his value is. For comparison purposes, Clarkson is a slightly cheaper option than Nathan Horton. Clarkson is from Toronto and the Maple Leafs could use a player like him.

Ryane Clowe

Clowe, a rugged left wing, is coming off multiple concussions, but when healthy he is a top-six forward with a history of performing well in the playoffs.

The New York Rangers would like to re-sign Clowe, but it may not be possible because of their salary-cap situation and the fact Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin, Ryan McDonagh and Justin Falk need new contracts. Clowe is coming off a four-year contract that paid him $3.625 million annually.

Clowe had 19 points in 40 games split between the San Jose Sharks and Rangers in 2012-13. He had three goals and five assists in 12 games after being traded to the Rangers, but was injured for most of the playoffs and appeared in two of 12 playoff games. He has 46 points in 70 career postseason games.

Andrew Ference

The Bruins have some younger, cheaper defensemen on the rise (Torey Krug, Matt Bartkowski, Dougie Hamilton) and a need to replace two right wings, Horton and Jaromir Jagr, so it would appear Ference's days in Boston are over. He had quite a ride, winning the Stanley Cup in 2011, getting back to the Final last month, and becoming one of the most community-driven athletes in the city.

Ference is 34 years old and coming off a three-year contract that paid him $2.25 million annually. He can play in a top-four role and brings a little bit of everything to the table. There should be teams lining up to sign him to a short-term deal.

Valtteri Filppula

Filppula is interesting for teams seeking a second- or third-line center. He earned $3 million annually on a five-year contract with the Detroit Red Wings, who were in the market for Vincent Lecavalier, a sign they could have been willing to let Filppula walk.

Filppula has played center for most of his career, but spent a good portion of 2012-13 at left wing in a top-six role. He struggled with 17 points in 41 games before scoring six points in 14 playoff games.

Nathan Horton

Horton should be a sought-after power forward even though he needs surgery to repair a dislocated shoulder.

Horton spent most of his time in Boston playing on a line with David Krejci and Milan Lucic. He struggled in 2012-13 with 13 goals and 22 points in 43 games, but rebounded in the playoffs with 19 points in 22 games. His 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons were cut short by concussions.

Jarome Iginla

Iginla, 36, isn't the player he once was, but still can be a reliable right wing for a team that needs some help in the scoring department and wants to beef up its top six, like the Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings. He is coming off a five-year contract that paid him $7 million annually but won't get near that kind of term or money on his next deal.

Iginla produced for the Pittsburgh Penguins after they acquired him from the Calgary Flames late in the 2012-13 season. He had five goals and 11 points in 13 games and another 12 points in 15 playoff games. Ironically, the Bruins could be in the market for Iginla considering they could lose their top two right wings: Horton and Jaromir Jagr.

The Bruins thought they were going to acquire Iginla before he eventually wound up in Pittsburgh.

Jaromir Jagr

At 41 years old, Jagr still can play. He wasn't as productive as he was hoping to be during the Bruins' playoff run (no goals, 10 assists) but was dangerous with his strength and ability to control the puck on the right wing.

Jagr wants to play in the NHL next season and it's a good bet he will get another one-year contract. He had 35 points in 45 games split between the Dallas Stars and Bruins in 2012-13, when he played for $4.5 million.

Evgeni Nabokov

It's still unclear if the New York Islanders are going to re-sign the 37-year-old goalie who took them to the playoffs in 2012-13, but they may not have a choice considering they don't have another No. 1 ready to go and he may be the best available option.

Nabokov likely will command a raise from the $2.75 million he made in 2012-13, considering he went 23-11-7 with a 2.50 GAA and .910 save percentage to get the Islanders into the playoffs for the first time since 2007.

Mike Ribeiro

With Lecavalier off the market, Ribeiro appears to be the best center available. Like Lecavalier, Ribeiro is 33 years old but is coming off a better 2012-13 season than the soon-to-be new Flyers center. Ribeiro had 49 points in 48 games with the Washington Capitals, who could probably use him again as a No. 2 center but are balking at his contract demands.

Ribeiro has to like the look of Lecavalier's five-year, $22.5 million contract with the Flyers. He likely wants something similar.

Rob Scuderi

All Scuderi does is play for winning teams. He won the Stanley Cup in 2009 with the Pittsburgh Penguins and again in 2012 with the Los Angeles Kings, who are desperate to keep the veteran, stay-at-home defenseman.

Scuderi is 34 years old and coming off a four-year contract that paid him $3.4 million annually. He has not addressed his contract situation publicly, but part of the reason Kings general manager Dean Lombardi traded goalie Jonathan Bernier to the Toronto Maple Leafs was to make sure there was enough room under the salary cap to make a run at re-signing Scuderi.

Stephen Weiss

The longtime center for the Florida Panthers was limited to four points in 17 games in 2012-13 because of a wrist injury. He was considered potential trade bait until his season was derailed in early March.

Weiss, who made $18.6 million on a recently completed six-year contract, has 145 goals and 249 in 654 NHL games, all with the Panthers. He could be a slightly cheaper option for teams looking for help at center that don't want to pay Ribeiro.

13 for honorable mention: Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Damien Brunner, Matt Cullen, Mikhail Grabovski, Ron Hainsey, Clarke MacArthur, Brenden Morrow, Douglas Murray, Dustin Penner, Derek Roy, Michael Ryder, Ryan Whitney, Marek Zidlicky

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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