The craziness that is NHL free agency begins at noon ET on Saturday.
While there might not be a superstar, franchise cornerstone-type of player for teams to pursue, plenty of talent at every position (except goaltender) exists.
Here are the top 10 unrestricted free agents on the market.
1. Kevin Shattenkirk, Defenseman: The power-play specialist spent seven seasons with the St. Louis Blues until being traded to the Washington Capitals to aid their playoff run, which ultimately fell short. Shattenkirk should be a hot commodity in a free-agency market starving for solid defensemen. With an offensive upside (298 career points in 490 games), and some concerns defensively, the 28-year-old most likely will look to join a contender with an already solid defensive foundation.
2. Alexander Radulov, Right Wing: Radulov was a pleasant surprise for the Montreal Canadiens this season after spending five years in the KHL. The right winger was able to record 54 points in 76 games, while slightly bolstering the Habs’ power play.
3. Joe Thornton, Center: Even at the age of 37, “Jumbo Joe” still is one of the best passers in the game. With 43 assists in 79 contests this past season, Thornton can still facilitate with the best of them. But is Thornton worth a large salary when he’s past his prime?
4. Karl Alzner, Defenseman: Alzner will not jump off the page in terms of point production. However, this is a very slim market for young, responsible defensemen, and that is exactly what this 28-year-old can bring to a franchise. With 162 blocked shots last season to prove it, Alzner is also a viable option to head a penalty kill for a team that is weak in that department.
5. Martin Hanzal, Center: Hanzal, as a decent scorer and playmaker, especially on the power-play, should make for an affordable fit to a team looking for help down the middle.
6. Sam Gagner, Center: After tallying his first career 50-point season, Gagner made a pretty good case for a nice contract. He’s only 28 years old, too.
7. Justin Williams, Right Wing: Williams is one of the most clutch players in the game today, and has scored 20-plus goals in each of the last two seasons. He can fill a top-six forward or third-line role for most any team, even at 35 years old.
8. Patrick Marleau, Center: Even though it seems he and Thornton may elect to stay in San Jose together, Marleau still can be productive and would help a team looking for more scoring depth. There is a reason he’s tallied more than 1,000 career points. Marleau has scored 25 and 27 goals in the last two seasons, respectively.
9. Andrei Markov, Defenseman: Markov has continued to produce well into his late thirties for the Canadiens, and also can play a physical defensive game when needed.
10. Nick Bonino, Center: Bonino has hovered around 30-plus points over the last couple of seasons, but his best weapon is his versatility. Shorthanded or not, the 29-year-old is fearless and very effective in the defensive zone. Bonino also brings championship experience as a two-time Stanley Cup winner.
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