NHL teams set to begin free-agent frenzy

| Thursday, July 4, 2013, 7:42 p.m.

NHL clubs have had two days to interview and meet with prospective free agents. That could mean a frenzy of signings when the free-agent period opens at noon Friday.

There is no guarantee of that, though.

This post-lockout class is not considered the greatest, and general managers' resolve will be tested as they are tempted to overpay to upgrade their clubs. Also, there is a salary-cap factor. Set at a prorated $70.2 million for the lockout-shortened season, the cap will hold at $64.3 million next season.

Clubs can go up to 10 percent over the cap during the summer, but the consensus among general managers at the NHL Entry Draft last weekend was trade talk would prove as plentiful as free-agent negotiating.

A look at the top available forwards, defensemen and goalies:


David Clarkson (Devils)

A hard-nosed center with 20-goal consistency, his production could increase outside of New Jersey.

Mike Ribeiro (Capitals)

Another center available, he's ideal for a team seeking offensive punch with more than a dash of peskiness.

Nathan Horton (Bruins)

His history of injuries is a concern, but when healthy, he is the prototype power forward.

Ryane Clowe (Rangers)

A bruising winger, he lost his scoring touch last season. If he rediscovers it, he could prove to be a bargain.

Jarome Iginla (Penguins)

His first post-Calgary stop proved a slight disappointment, but that only will motivate him. He still can contribute but not dominate.


Ray Emery (Blackhawks)

Perhaps not physically suited for a starter's workload, but he was dominant (17-1-0).

Ilya Bryzgalov (Flyers)

His play wasn't the reason Philadelphia missed the playoffs. He will flourish in a defensive system.

Tim Thomas (Islanders)

He didn't play last season, so there are fair questions about his condition. His resume includes the Cup, the Conn Smythe Trophy and the Vezina Trophy (twice).


Rob Scuderi (Kings)

A two-time Stanley Cup-winning “Piece,” he would add something missing from most contenders: stay-at-home dependability.

Ron Hainsey (Jets)

He will make a strong second-pairing component for a club seeking size and durability on the back end.

Andrew Ference (Bruins)

Leadership became his calling card in Boston, but he also averaged almost 25 minutes during this year's Stanley Cup playoffs.

Douglas Murray (Penguins)

He won't win many puck races, but he won't lose any puck battles around the net. He is a penalty-killing ace card.

Ryan Whitney (Oilers)

His first pass remains one of the best among blueliners, and he is a true power-play quarterback.

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