I know it's still early, but I thought it might be fun for us to start looking at some of the UFA's that might be available come July 1st and discuss which one's might be right fit for the Canes next season. As you can guess, the sheer number of UFA's is huge, so I decided to break them down per Division. While there isn't a large amount of big names available this summer, there still could be some interesting targets. Even though JR has stated that he is looking for a top-tier player, he is known for getting second-tier or project players and there are plenty of those available this offseason.
What I did was break down the UFA's by team with a small blurb on each player. If the UFA played in less than 20 games in 2011/2012, I listed them without any blurb. I've started off with the Atlantic Division and will break down the other Divisions over the next couple of weeks. Please take a look and let me know your thoughts on these potential free agents.
Zach Parise - LW/C - Parise is obviously the prize of the UFA market this season. I think everyone would agree that Parise would be exactly what the Canes needs in a true 1st liner, but the Canes would be only one of the few teams vying for his services.
Alexei Ponikarovsky - LW/RW - Poni didn't do badly in Carolina, but he didn't necessarily fit either. While his game has improved with the Devils, I highly doubt that JR will try to resign him.
Ryan Carter - C/LW - He's a good 4th line/energy player, but he's really not what the Canes need at all.
Petr Sykora - LW/RW - Sykora had a nice return to the NHL, putting up 21 goals. But he is in the backside of his career, so I doubt JR would take a gamble on him.
Cam Jansen - RW - If JR is looking for someone to protect Skinner, Jansen has those skills. But other than his fighting ability, he really doesn't offer anything else.
Steve Bernier - RW - He has a little bit of size and has skill, but he can't seem to put it together. He seems like one of those potential JR projects if the price is right.
Bryce Salvador - D - He's a stay-at-home defenseman that is pretty consistent, but he's not very quick and is getting up there in age.
Martin Brodeur - G - While Brodeur is a free agent, he is most likely not available. He will either resign with the Devils or retire.
Johan Hedberg - G - Hedberg has been pretty decent the past couple of seasons and has always played well against the Canes. If we are looking at a backup, he might be a good candidate.
Matt Taormina - D - A younger offensive defenseman that is not really for full-time duty; not something we need.
Brad Mills - C/W - Pretty much a career AHLer, I think I would pass.
Jay Pandolfo - LW/C - A player on the downside of his career. He's gritty, but that's pretty much all he'll provide.
PA Parenteau - RW - Probably the best available distributor, but will he make it to free agency? He would look nice in the Canes top 6, but I think he ends up staying put.
Mark Eaton - D - He's a solid, veteran defenseman, but doesn't do anything particularly well and has a long list of injuries.
Steve Staios - D - A gritty defenseman that has plenty of experience. But he's old and is at most a 3rd pairing guy.
Milan Jurcina - D - Looking at Jurcina and you would think he would be a great defensive defenseman. He's HUGE, but doesn't really play that way. He also just doesn't seem to have the drive to succeed in the league.
Dylan Reese - D - He looks like a tweener, good enough for the AHL, but not enough for the NHL.
Al Montoya - G - Former 1st round pick has shown glimpses, but can't put it together for extended periods.
Ruslan Fedotenko - LW/RW - Fedotenko seems to be a good complimentary player that shows flashes every now and then.
Steve Eminger - D - Somewhat a solid player that plays a pretty effective game. He's probably a lower pairing guy, but could work in the right situation.
Jeff Woywitka - D - A nice sized defenseman, but is probably more of an 8th defenseman than a full-time player.
Stu Bickel - D - A big, young defenseman that has a lot of limitations.
John Scott - D/LW - A HUGE presence at 6' 8", 270 lbs. He is in the NHL for one reason and one reason alone.
Martin Biron - G - An experienced goaltender that is still putting up decent numbers in a backup role. If the Canes are looking for backup help, then Biron could be an option.
Jaromir Jagr - RW - Jagr was a true superstar and still still pretty darn good now. But age and nagging injuries seem to be catching up to him, so you couldn't rely on him for a whole season. But I have to admit it would be interesting to see what he could do in a Carolina sweater.
Pavel Kubina - D - A solid, but inconsistent all-around defenseman. His age are a concern, but could still be an effective defender in the right situation.
Matt Carle - D - Carle is a very interesting player. His game reminds me a lot of Pitkanen with a few differences. He doesn't provide quite the offensive as Joni, but is mobile and a good passer. Carle's a little better positionally and should get a decent contract due to the shallow free agent pool.
Steve Sullivan - LW/RW - A very skilled winger that is getting up there in age. He still contributes, but would not help the Canes getting any bigger.
Aaron Asham - RW/LW - He seems a lot like a later years Scott Walker. He's not huge, but is gritty and shows some skill every once in a while. He might be a decent protector, but some consider him a "dirty" player.
Richard Park - W/C - Park is basically a 13th forward. He can play in the bottom 6, but he's not blowing the doors off anyone. He could contribute a little more a few years ago, but his best days are behind him.
So do any of these players interest you? Do you think that JR will go after any of these guys come July 1st? Let me know what you think. Up next: The Northeast Division.