The start of free agency is not unlike Christmas morning. Fans will run downstairs July 1 while rubbing the sleep out of their eyes to see what toys Santa Claus -- or in this case, their team's general manager -- has bestowed upon them.
Zach Parise and Ryan Suter would be the luxury cars with the big red bows on them. Alexander Semin is the flashy jewelry that will take your breath away. Shane Doan can represent that complete tool set you've always craved.
But in the Northeast Division, there aren't any cars or diamonds or all-inclusive vacation packages among the top 10 free agents. Instead, the division has the little gifts you may not appreciate when you receive them, but will be extremely valuable as the year progresses.
2012 FREE AGENCY
Free agency previews (by division)With free agency opening Sunday at noon ET, NHL.com takes a look at the needs of all 30 teams -- division by division -- as well as the Top 10 free agents in each division:
Yes, the Northeast is filled with your socks and sweaters, but hey, everyone needs those, too.
Picking one headliner out of the Northeast's crop of UFAs is almost impossible, so instead let's look at them in alphabetical order and see what each can bring to the table.
Brad Boyes, Buffalo
Remember him? The guy who scored 43 and 33 goals in back-to-back seasons with the Blues five years ago? The 30-year-old slipped so far with the Sabres he found himself playing fourth-line minutes this past season and finished with eight goals in 65 games.
Boyes won't be back in Buffalo next season, making him one of the more interesting cases this summer. Can he find a place that will allow him to become a goal-scoring threat again, or will he be relegated to bottom-six duty wherever he lands? The right wing is one of the better players in the League in the shootout; he went 5-for-12 last season.
Chris Campoli, Montreal
At 27, the defenseman has a lot of career ahead of him in the NHL. He was signed by the Habs in late September with their blue line decimated by injury, but Campoli missed 29 games with a leg injury after playing in the season opener.
Campoli returned to post two goals and nine assists in 43 games. The left-handed shot can be a featured point man on a second power-play unit and is still effective when healthy.
Joe Corvo, Boston
The offensive defenseman regressed in a big way in his one season with the Bruins, and the team has said it will not try to keep him. The 35-year-old had four goals and 11 assists one season after posting 11 goals and 29 assists with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Corvo can help a team on the power play but isn't used all that much in penalty-killing situations. There will likely be a team that's willing to gamble he has at least one more good season in him.
Joey Crabb, Toronto
The 29-year-old forward was a late arriver to the NHL, having spent four years at Colorado College and a few more seasons in the AHL. Last season was his first real crack at the show, and he acquitted himself quite well. He had 11 goals and 15 assists in 67 games while averaging about 13 minutes.
Matt Gilroy, Ottawa
The 27-year-old out of Boston University has played for three teams in three seasons, and the defenseman will likely land on No. 4 this offseason. For a player with such minimal experience, he hasn't exactly been a detriment to his teams -- he has 10 goals and 36 assists in 194 career games and is plus-7.
Gilroy is coming off a season in which he posted a career-best 20 points in 67 games, so there likely will be a suitor or two out there for the ex-Terrier.
Jochen Hecht, Buffalo
At 35, the German-born center is coming off a season in which he lost 60 games to injury, 54 of those because of concussion problems. When healthy, he's proven he can score about 15-20 goals, but he's been dreadful throughout his career in the faceoff circle -- he hasn't won more than 45.3 percent of his draws since leaving Edmonton after the 2001-02 season.
Sabres GM Darcy Regier said it's unlikely Hecht will be back with the club next season. The most attractive parts of Hecht's game are his experience -- he's been to the third round of the postseason three times -- and his ability to kill penalties.
Zenon Konopka, Ottawa
The 31-year-old center is your prototypical fourth-line fighter who makes the most of his minimal ice time. Last season, he played 431 minutes, 29 seconds and generated 193 penalty minutes.
Konopka isn't just a pugilist, however -- he can win faceoffs with the best of them. He won't take every key draw, but has won about 60 percent of them during his career. He can pitch in on penalty kills too.
Filip Kuba, Ottawa
The 35-year-old defenseman showed he has a lot left in the tank this past season. His 32 points in 73 games were the third-most in his career that began in Florida in 1998. Kuba played more than 23 minutes per game, second-most on the team behind Norris Trophy winner and frequent defense partner Erik Karlsson.
Kuba can play on the power play or the penalty kill, and his plus-26 last season was by far the high-water mark for his career. His age may scare off some GMs, but with the Senators likely letting him walk, he could be a valuable piece for another squad.
Travis Moen, Montreal
The 30-year-old forward plays a rugged style and was mentioned heavily in trade rumors near the deadline, but an upper-body injury cost him the final 27 games of the regular season.
Whichever team decides to sign Moen will get a checking left wing who doesn't mind throwing himself in front of shots. He has been part of one of the NHL's better penalty-killing units the past three seasons.
Greg Zanon, Boston
The stay-at-home defenseman was added at the trade deadline by the Bruins, who could still bring him back after allowing him to test the free-agent waters. The 32-year-old is known more for his grit than his scoring -- he chipped in three goals and five assists in 56 games for the Bruins and Minnesota Wild last season.
Zanon missed 16 games with a groin injury but hadn't played fewer than 78 games in any of the previous four seasons. He's durable and steady and will find a home somewhere.
Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo