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free agency

Jagr among best remaining free agents

Iginla, Gionta in group of veterans looking for work

by Jon Lane @JonLaneNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

Training camps for all 31 NHL teams are underway with on-ice sessions scheduled to begin Friday. Though some rosters appear set, others have potential openings, which means a handful of players who became free agents on July 1 and are looking for work could get a call between now and when the regular season starts on Oct. 4.

Here are the best remaining unrestricted free agents, according to NHL.com:

 

Jaromir Jagr, F

Jagr became an unrestricted free agent after playing last season for the Florida Panthers, who chose not to re-sign him. During an interview translated from Česká televise on Sept. 5, Jagr confirmed the Calgary Flames have shown interest and reiterated his desire to play in the NHL this season. 

"I love NHL hockey," Jagr said. "That's the reason I'm able to wait."

Jagr was voted one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players presented by Molson Canadian. He has played for eight teams during 23 NHL seasons. He had 46 points (16 goals, 30 assists) in 82 games last season, when became the third player in NHL history to score 750 goals, joining Gordie Howe (801) and Wayne Gretzky (894). On Dec. 22, he scored his 1,888th NHL point to pass Mark Messier for second behind Gretzky (2,857). On Feb. 15, his 45th birthday, Jagr scored his 1,900th NHL point.

"I'm sure a team is going to give him a chance," Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau said last week during the NHL Player Media Tour. "At that age, it's not even a chance. I think he can still play in the League for sure."

Video: Elliotte Friedman on Jaromir Jagr remaining unsigned

 

Jarome Iginla, F

Iginla, 40, also wants to continue his NHL career. He had 27 points (14 goals, 13 assists) in 80 games last season, including nine points (six goals, three assists) in 19 games with the Los Angeles Kings after he was acquired in a trade from the Colorado Avalanche on March 1. 

Iginla is the Calgary Flames' all-time leader in goals (525), points (1,095) and games (1,219). He earned his 1,300th NHL point with an assist in the final game of the 2016-17 season and is tied for 15th in goals on the League's all-time list (625). He has 68 points (37 goals, 31 assists) in 81 Stanley Cup Playoff games, including 22 (13 goals, nine assists) during Calgary's run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2004.

 

Brian Gionta, F

Multiple teams have expressed interest in Gionta, who is weighing his options and staying in shape, The Buffalo News reported. 

"Gio has not made any final decision on his future," agent Steve Bartlett told the paper Sept. 7. "We have had a number of teams that have indicated they would sign him, but he is not sure right now which, if any, offer he would accept.

"He will continue to prepare as though he will play, and we will see how things play out here over the next couple weeks."

Gionta, 38, had 35 points (15 goals, 20 assists) in 82 games for the Buffalo Sabres in 2016-17 and 103 (40 goals, 63 assists) in 230 games during three seasons in Buffalo, all as captain. The third-round pick (No. 82) of the New Jersey Devils in the 1998 NHL Draft, he won the Stanley Cup with New Jersey in 2003 and scored a Devils-record 48 goals in 2005-06.

Video: FLA@BUF: Gionta beats Reimer after slick deke

 

Jiri Hudler, F 

Hudler, 33, hasn't played since March 23, when he sustained a lower-body injury playing for the Dallas Stars against the Chicago Blackhawks. He ended last season with 11 points (three goals, eight assists), 27 shots on goal and a minus-3 rating in 32 games for the Stars but is three seasons removed from finishing tied for eighth in NHL scoring with 76 points (31 goals, 45 assists) while playing for the Flames. 

In 83 playoff games, Hudler has 42 points (16 goals, 26 assists) and won the Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings in 2008.

Video: BOS@DAL: Hudler rips a one-timer past Rask for PPG

 

John-Michael Liles, D

Liles, 36, has played 13 NHL seasons, including the past two with the Boston Bruins, who acquired him in a trade from the Carolina Hurricanes on Feb. 29, 2016. He had 11 assists in 53 games for Boston, including five in 36 games last season, before the Bruins notified him he would not be returning.

 

Zbynek Michalek, D

Michalek, 34, spent most of last season with the Arizona Coyotes' American Hockey League affiliate in Tucson after being placed on waivers Oct. 10. He was recalled late last season and played in three games for the Coyotes. His 612 games are second to Shane Doan (1,466) since the Winnipeg Jets/Arizona franchise relocated in 1996 and seventh in franchise history.

 

The following restricted free agents have yet to sign with their current teams. A team holding an RFA's rights can match any offer sheet the player signs with another NHL team.

 
Andreas Athanasiou, F

The 23-year-old forward reportedly has offers to play in the Kontinental Hockey League if he and the Red Wings cannot agree on a new contract.  

"We've had lots of conversations ...," general manager Ken Holland told the Detroit Free Press on Tuesday. "I am not negotiating against the KHL."

Athanasiou, who had 29 points (18 goals, 11 assists) in 64 games last season, was one of the few offensive bright spots for the Red Wings, who finished 26th in scoring (2.41 goals per game). Further complicating matters is Detroit is $3,021,212 over the $75 million NHL salary cap, according to CapFriendly.com, and forwards Dylan Larkin, 21, and Anthony Mantha, 22, each could become a restricted free agent on July 1. 

The Red Wings would continue to own the NHL rights to Athanasiou if he leaves for Russia. He'd be a restricted free agent if or when he returns.

Video: DET@CAR: Athanasiou delivers the overtime winner

 

Josh Anderson, F

Anderson won't report to the Columbus Blue Jackets for training camp without a contract, his agent told The Athletic on Monday. The Blue Jackets' fourth-round pick (No. 95) in the 2012 NHL Draft had 29 points (17 goals, 12 assists) in 78 games in his first full NHL season, averaging 12:01 of ice time per game.

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