Some of the names still left in the UFA barrel are a bit surprising given some of the needs various teams have.
Ilya Kovalchuk is surprising, but not hugely so. He’s the best free agent to hit the market since the lockout. Everyone knows this, including him and his agent and he can essentially pick where he wants to live the next several seasons. I don’t blame him for taking his time, more than a week to evaluate multiple job offers isn’t unreasonable.
Marty Turco, a bit more surprising given the number of teams that many expected to jump into the goalie chase. It becomes less surprising when you remember how mediocre the goalies were in the last three Stanley Cup Finals were. Osgood, Fluery, Leighton, Neimi are hardly world beaters, except when put on damned good teams. Add to that the number of younger, cheaper goalies and the thirty four years olds continued availability becomes less of a shock. Truth be told though I stand in the number who would have picked him to be signed by an NHL team ahead of Jokienen on June 30th and considered it easy money for anyone who bet the other way.
Raffi Torres, for teams looking for depth scoring, and a little grit he might be the guy. I’m slightly surprised a team like Florida hasn’t swooped in to get someone with a touch of bite to their game for what the ownership complained of as a soft group. On the other hand they actually acquired Wideman.
Ruslan Fedotenko, given the complete lack of anyone on the left side, he’d be a cheap option for a team like the Kings. Given his two rings, including the Cup winning goal for Tampa, and his salary I’m baffled by his continued availability. With 132 recorded hits last season I’m guessing lack of physicality isn’t the problem.
Alexander Frolov, given a constant churning of the rumor mill last season that had him headed anywhere that wasn’t LA, Its odd that this two time 30 goal scorer isn’t sure where he’ll be playing yet. Admittedly some of the most goal starved teams are also some of the more cap strapped teams, but were 12 days into free agency at this point. People have talked about his lack of physicality but that’s not especially valid. While the hits stat is poorly standardized, its safe to say that Sidney Crosby has more attention paid to him when on the ice than Frolov does. When you take the total hits for each player and divide the number of minutes played by it, Frolov managed a hit about once more often every three minutes of time on ice. Yet Crosby is lauded for his physical play, curious.
Andy Sutton. A defensive defenseman. In an NHL off season that finally discovered the utility of this season and deigned to notice its importance he’s still on the sidelines. Hall Gill, PK Subban and Josh Georges were a huge part of the reason both the Penguins and Capitals go to the golf courses ahead of them, yet a player in the same mold is twiddling his thumbs and waiting for calls.