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Still out there: A look at the remaining free agents

Friday, 09.25.2009 / 2:25 PM / 2009 NHL Offseason News

By John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Training camps are here and the first preseason game is just a couple of days away, but there are still a lot of well-known players looking for a place to play. A lot of players with lengthy track records are accepting invitations to camp without a guarantee of a job, and others can't even get that much of an offer.

Here's an updated look at the top unrestricted free agents still on the market (players unsigned through September 24):

Forwards Current team '08-09 stats Scuttlebutt
Miroslav Satan Pittsburgh 17-19-36 in 65 GP Satan has been among the NHL's most consistent scorers for the past decade. But he didn't mesh as a linemate with either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin and is coming off his worst season since 1995-96. He'll have to prove his scoring touch hasn't disappeared.
Robert Lang Montreal 18-21-39 in 50 GP Lang turns 39 in December and is coming off an Achilles tendon injury, potentially cutting down on the number of interested teams. But before he got hurt, he showed he still had something left in the tank.
Michael Peca Columbus 4-18-22
in 71 GP
The former Selke winner may still have some value as a checker, penalty-killer, faceoff man and leader. But he's now 35, and injuries have taken away most of his offensive ability.
Ryan Bayda Carolina 5-7-12
in 70 GP
Bayda, a college star at North Dakota, finally managed to play a full season in the NHL after bouncing up and down between Carolina and the AHL for five seasons. He is in camp with Pittsburgh.
Blair Betts N.Y. Rangers 6-4-10
in 81 GP
Betts and Fredrik Sjostrom (who signed with Calgary) formed one of the NHL's best penalty-killing tandems last season. But Betts is coming off a serious facial injury, which limited interest in his skills. He's in camp with Philadelphia on a tryout contract.
Maxim Afinogenov Buffalo 6-14-20 in 48 GP Afinogenov's play has dropped off severely in the past two seasons, during which he's also been plagued by injuries. He's in Atlanta's camp on a tryout.
Dominic Moore Buffalo 13-32-45 in 81 GP Moore, a mid-tier center, was having a decent season for Toronto before being dealt to Buffalo at the trade deadline. He's a nice No. 3 center but might be stretched as a No. 2.
Andy Hilbert N.Y. Islanders 11-16-27 in 67 GP Hilbert is a hard worker in all three zones, has some offensive ability and can also kill penalties. He'd make a solid bottom-six forward for someone. He's trying to earn a job with Minnesota.
Mats Sundin Vancouver 9-19-28 in 41 GP The Canucks hoped adding Sundin at midseason would be the last piece needed for a long playoff run, but he never really found his game after joining the team in January. At 38, he's in the twilight of his career and may not return.
Kyle Calder Los Angeles 8-19-27
in 74 GP
He's now 30 and hasn't reached double figures in goals since 2006-07, so Calder is going to have to take less money and a short-term deal if he hopes to keep an NHL job. He's in camp with Anaheim.


Defensemen Current team '08-09 Stats Scuttlebutt
Martin Skoula Minnesota 4-12-16
in 81 GP
At 29, Skoula doesn't bring a lot of offense to the table, but he's been a reliable minutes-muncher for years and owns a Stanley Cup ring from his days in Colorado. Florida invited him to training camp.
Marc-Andre Bergeron Minnesota 14-18-32 in 72 GP Bergeron owns one of the NHL's biggest slappers from the point but struggles in his own zone. He could thrive in the right situation with a team that can maximize his strengths.
Christian Backman Columbus 2-5-7
in 56 GP
Backman was something of a disappointment for the Blue Jackets, who acquired him from the Rangers last summer. He got a training-camp invitation from Florida.
Darryl Sydor Dallas 3-12-15 in 73 GP At 37, Sydor's resume includes a couple of Stanley Cup rings. He can serve as a mentor for young defenders and still contribute on the ice. He got a camp invite from St. Louis, which has several young defensemen.
Jassen Cullimore Florida 2-8-10 in 68 GP He's now 36 and has never produced more than 5 goals or 17 points in a season. The 6-5, 240-pounder is getting  a  look from Anaheim.


Goaltenders Current team '08-09 stats Scuttlebutt
Manny Fernandez Boston 16-8-3 2.59 GAA With Tim Thomas firmly in place as the starter in Boston and youngster Tuukka Rask as the backup, Fernandez is having trouble getting a nibble as he looks for another job. He's played more than 44 games in a season just once in his career (2005-06, with Minnesota).
Manny Legace St. Louis 13-9-2 3.18 GAA One season after making the All-Star Game, Legace spent the last half of 2008-09 in the minors after Chris Mason took the No. 1 job. The 36-year-old got a camp invite from Atlanta.
Curtis Joseph Toronto 5-9-1 3.57 GAA At age 42, Joseph likely won't get a chance to extend his regular-season victory total of 454.




Quote of the Day

We think that Randy is a very good coach. Our players think that Randy is a very good coach. We think that he's going to get the most out of this group. With the addition of the two assistants, a bit of a different dynamic, we're very comfortable that this is a quality coaching staff that's going to maximize the potential of this team.

— Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis on head coach Randy Carlyle and his staff