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From Top Free Agent Wingers

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks
Will Teemu Selanne be back in Anaheim in 2010-11?


The names won't jump off the page at you, but there are still some significant right wings that could be up for grabs come noon ET on July 1 when the NHL's free-agent signing period officially begins.

Unless you think Teemu Selanne is still a No. 1 winger, none of the players on the list that follows will be signed to play guaranteed minutes on a top line. Some used to be locks for that, and others still could with the right fit (Colby Armstrong?).

Nevertheless, they all have value and we'll find out what that will be in the coming days and weeks. Here are nine right wings that could be on the move:

Teemu Selanne -- Reports are that if the Ducks are serious about winning, not rebuilding, then Selanne wants to be back in the fold. If not, he could opt for retirement like now former teammate, Scott Niedermayer. Selanne obviously can still bring it considering he scored 27 goals in 54 games this season, but his motivation is to win and he'll probably want to try to do that with Saku Koivu, Anaheim's other on-the-fence UFA.

Maxim Afinogenov -- The Thrashers reportedly offered him a one-year contract in May, but Afinogenov wants something better, so he should hit the open market. He rejuvenated his career with a career-high 24 goals to go along with 37 assists this past season, so he's hoping to build off that with a bigger contract. Where he gets that deal he is seeking remains to be seen.

Colby Armstrong
-- Armstrong, like Afinogenov, may not be back in Atlanta next season despite the fact that he was an alternate captain and was being considered for the captaincy. He had a great time in Pittsburgh and a great relationship with Sidney Crosby before being traded in the Marian Hossa deal two years ago, but the Penguins have their own free agents to deal with as well. Still, Armstrong, only 27, will be sought after.

Miroslav Satan -- Teams aren't going to move mountains (cap space) to get him, but Satan proved with the Bruins this past spring that he can still deliver the goods. He had 5 goals and 5 assists through nine playoff games, but like the rest of the Bruins, he fell apart in the final four games against the Flyers. Satan probably won't get any more than a one-year deal, but he could deliver some big goals.

Jamal Mayers -- He is 35 and there are a lot of miles on that 6-1, 220-pound body. Mayers had a decent run with the Flames after being traded to Calgary from Toronto in the Dion Phaneuf deal. He can still drop the mitts and go, which is to say he can still play a physical game. Mayers is a decent pick-up for a team that needs that element of physicality in its bottom six.

Arron Asham -- We saw in the Stanley Cup Final that he can be a valuable forward when put on the side of a playmaking center like Claude Giroux. Asham, who had 4 goals and 3 assists in the playoffs, is one of those guys that coaches love to have. He's an honest and consistent player. He'll always give an effort. He won't get big money, but he'll earn every penny.

Lee Stempniak -- Who knew that Stempniak could produce at a point-per-game clip like he did for the Coyotes last spring? Who knew he could be a sniper that pumped in 14 goals in just 18 games after being traded off the scrap heap in Toronto? Stempniak earned himself some extra cash and maybe an extra contract year with his finish to the 2009-10 season, but he was also scoreless in seven playoff games.

Bill Guerin
-- This list of right wingers is not littered with great goal scorers or playmakers, and outside of Armstrong, none of them have ever played with Crosby either. Guerin can still put the puck in the net and he has a history (albeit short) with Crosby, so it wouldn't be shocking to see him re-sign with the Penguins. It's in Guerin's best interest to want to be alongside Crosby, too.

Adam Burish -- If we're being realistic, any team that signs Burish has to understand that its getting a guy that is probably more suited for the regular season than the postseason. He can be a fill-in player for 10 or more minutes a night or a healthy scratch over the course of 82 games, but he's not going to offer much of an impact in the playoffs because his style isn't necessarily condusive for it. However, if you're looking for a guy to be great in the dressing room and a media darling that will take the pressure off some of the bigger names, than look no further than Burish. Everyday in the Stanley Cup Final the guy had a crowd of interested reporters around him, and he wasn't even playing.

Nine more: Marek Svatos, Evgeny Artyukhin, Fernando Pisani, Owen Nolan, Petr Sykora, Pavol Demitra, Jed Ortmeyer, Shawn Thornton, Richard Park

Ilya Kovalchuk headlines the list of Free Agent Left Wings
The group of left wings that could be available at noon ET on July 1 is notably better with Ilya Kovalchuk at the top. Kovalchuk will test free agency for the first time in his career and if he doesn't like how it tastes, he can run to Russia go play in the KHL.

He is the biggest name on the list with the biggest question mark, too, but Kovalchuk is joined by a lot of recognizable names. The talent pool is not as deep as it is with say the goalies or centers, but the left wings offer some of the best high-end players.

Here are the nine we think are the best of the bunch that could become available soon:

Ilya Kovalchuk -- How serious are those reports that Kovalchuk is considering the KHL? We have no way of knowing. The money he could get there would exceed the money he could get here, but Kovalchuk has never won in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and that eats at him. The Devils want him back, but the price could be too much. Is L.A. an option? The Kings could use another big-time scorer and are reportedly set to make an offer. It will be fascinating to watch the Kovalchuk sweepstakes.

Ray Whitney -- He'll score between 20-30 goals, give you upwards of 35-40 assists, contribute on the power play and play nearly 20 minutes a game. There aren't many UFAs out there that offer better value than Whitney despite the fact that he's 38 years old. Whitney has reportedly said he won't rule out re-signing with Carolina, but his best bet might be to leave and sign a two-year deal somewhere else.

Paul Kariya -- Blues fans shouldn't expect him back next season because the team doesn't believe he'll be worth his asking price. Kariya should find a home somewhere, but he's not the same fleet-footed winger that we all remember from his days in Anaheim and Nashville. He is, however, still a solid player who can put the puck in the net. And, despite the wear and tear of 15 NHL seasons, he's only 35.

Alexander Frolov -- Like Kovalchuk, the KHL is calling Frolov and he may be tempted to bolt for the money overseas. The Kings don't appear too keen on signing him if his asking price is going to be high, which it likely is despite the fact that he had only 19 goals and 51 points last season. Other teams could also pass if he wants too much dough. Frolov is still a talent, though, and a two-time 30-goal scorer.

Raffi Torres -- With the right fit, meaning the right centerman to set him up, Torres could score 20-plus goals again. He had 19 in 60 games with Columbus before being dealt to Buffalo. He didn't score a goal in 14 games with the Sabres. Torres, though, is more of a gritty winger, the bump and grind type of guy. He'll get a contract because of his physical play. If he scores, it'll be a bonus.

Alexei Ponikarovsky -- Another one of Pittsburgh's UFAs, but Ponikarovsky is likely on the move. He did not have a great run with the Penguins after getting traded from Toronto at the deadline. He had only 2 goals, 9 points and was a minus-6 in 16 games. Ponikarovsky wants a multi-year deal and the Penguins most likely aren't willing to give it to him after what they saw at the end of last season.

Alex Tanguay -- He played 80 games this past season for the Lightning, but scored only 10 goals and added only 17 assists. It was another disappointing year for Tanguay, who hasn't scored at least 20 goals in three straight seasons now. Tanguay will probably have to wait until deep in the summer to sign, just as he did last year. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman might get him back at a discounted price.

Slava Kozlov -- He's checking out of Atlanta, that's a certainty. But, where will Kozlov, now 38 years old, end up? He had only 8 goals in 55 games last season and he requested a trade after chastising the job then-coach John Anderson was doing. Kozlov will not be highly sought after, but he is one season removed from scoring 26 goals and piling up 76 points. He did that playing with Kovalchuk, though.

Jody Shelley -- The Rangers are reportedly interested in re-signing him before the clock strikes noon on July 1. Shelley is a bruiser who fit in well with John Tortorella. He even contributed offensively for the Blueshirts, producing 2 goals and 4 assists in 21 games. He's 34 years old, isn't an expensive asset, and his agent told the New York Post he wants to be back in the Big Apple.

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Author: Dan Rosen | Columnist

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