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Expert Analysis

UFA Period: What's Left?

by Ryan Dadoun
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

After a flurry of signings on Day 1 of the unrestricted free agent period and the trickle of contracts handed out since then, you might be wondering: Is there anyone of note even left on the UFA market?  There are no big names still available and arguably – with the possible exception of Rick Nash, who has been contemplating retirement – there aren’t any top-six forwards on the market at all.  In fact, if you take out Nash due to his unique circumstances, then there are no UFA available that even had 30 points last season.


So you can safely just ignore the UFAs at this point and turn your attention to the RFA and trade markets, right?  Not entirely.  There’s still some bargain bin shopping to be done to add some complimentary players that can provide competitive teams with that extra depth they need in deep playoff runs or young teams with a veteran presence that can help guide key members of a rebuilding process.


With that in mind, here are some of the most interesting players that haven’t signed yet.


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Mike Cammalleri – A veteran of 906 NHL games, Cammalleri had seven goals and 29 points in 66 games between the Los Angeles Kings and Edmonton Oilers.  At his height in 2008-09 he had 82 points and more recently he recorded 38 points in 42 games in 2015-16.  While the 36-year-old has seen his offensive production decline substantially over the last couple of years, he might still prove to be a solid third-liner in 2018-19.


Scott Hartnell – There was a time when Hartnell was capable of recording around 30 goals and 60 points while logging at least 100 penalty minutes.  That made him a very desirable option in standard fantasy leagues, but naturally that combination of skill and grit was valuable to NHL squads as well.  At this point, he doesn’t contribute too much offensively so teams looking at him probably wouldn’t slot him in as more than a third line forward.  He would be a nice addition to a number of teams in that spot though.


Dan Hamhuis – There’s an argument to be made that Hamhuis is the most impactful player available given that we’re excluding Nash due to him being on the fence about playing.  In Hamhuis’ 12 seasons of NHL service, he’s only averaged under 20 minutes per game once – back in 2016-17 when he logged 19:22 minutes per game.  Last season he had three goals and 24 points in 80 games while averaging 20:11 minutes with Dallas.  He’ll turn 36-years-old in December, so his career is winding down, but he could once again slot in as a top-four defenseman in 2018-19.


Kris Versteeg – Due to hip problems, Versteeg only participated in 24 games last season, so 2017-18 was largely a wash for him.  If he’s healthy next season then he could record 30-40 points while playing in a second or third-line role.  The 32-year-old is probably going to end up with a rather cheap one-year contract and hope to bounce back, so he’s a low-risk option.


Kari Lehtonen – Lehtonen has plenty of experience as an NHL starter, but he’s struggled in recent years.  In fact, over the last four seasons he’s posted a combined 2.81 GAA and .905 save percentage in 204 games with Dallas.  The Stars haven’t exactly been an ideal team to serve as a goalie for through a lot of that though and Lehtonen had a more liveable 2.56 GAA and .912 save percentage in 37 contests last season.  The 34-year-old isn’t getting a starting gig in 2018-19, but perhaps he can find an opportunity somewhere, even if it means competing for the backup job during training camp.


Antoine Vermette – Vermette is coming off an uneventful season where he had eight goals and 16 points in 64 games with Anaheim while averaging 13:45 minutes per game.  It wasn’t that long ago that he was a decent secondary scorer, but he’ll turn 36 on July 20, so perhaps that’s behind him now.  He could be a decent role player though, especially given that he’s still amazing on the draw.  He won 60% of his faceoffs last season and has a career 56.9% faceoff success rate.


Brooks Orpik – While Orpik didn’t play a key role in the Washington Capitals’ championship, he did aide them defensively on their journey there.  The Capitals needed cap space and he had a $5.5 million cap hit attached to him for 2018-19, so Washington dealt him to Colorado, which then bought him out.  The Capitals still like Orpik though and might even end up being the team to sign him now that he can presumably be had for a more affordable price.


Steve Mason – The 2017-18 campaign was a difficult one for Mason.  He was held back by injuries and Connor Hellebuyck’s dominance made Mason a distant second even when he was available.  Not that Mason did much to help his cause when he was healthy as he posted a 3.24 GAA and .906 save percentage in 13 games.  Winnipeg signed Mason to a two-year, $8.2 million contract in the summer of 2017, but the Jets managed to dump him on Montreal this summer, who then bought out the final season of his contract.  Now Mason has to hope there’s a team out there that will give him another shot.  It’s not an unreasonable hope given that he was a solid starter in Philadelphia not that long ago.

Ryan Dadoun

Ryan Dadoun is an Associate Editor for Hockey on NBC Sports Edge. Feel free to follow him on Twitter or check out his blog.