As the dog days of the NHL offseason drag on, here’s the latest on the notable unrestricted free agents.
Josh Harding, Ray Emery and Jonas Gustavsson are the notables still available. Complications from multiple sclerosis could force Harding into retirement. The Philadelphia Flyers signed Michal Neuvirth, spelling the end of Emery’s tenure as their backup. The Detroit Red Wings are sticking with the tandem of Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek for next season, leaving the oft-injured Gustavsson seeking a new home. He could sign with a European team.
Cody Franson, Christian Ehrhoff, Marek Zidlicky, Lubomir Visnovsky, Sergei Gonchar, Anton Volchenkov, David Schlemko, Tim Gleason and Jordan Leopold top the list of notable UFA blueliners.
In late-July, Franson claimed he’d spoken with five or six teams, including the Boston Bruins, but entering mid-August he remains without a contract. Ehrhoff confirmed receiving a one-year offer from the Columbus Blue Jackets, but he’s also speaking with other clubs. Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney recently admitted speaking with Zidlicky, but so far there’s no indication the 38-year-old blueliner will be signing soon with the Bruins. Visnovsky could spend next season playing in Europe. Gonchar hopes to play next season, but the 41-year-old is clearly in decline and unlikely to attract much interest. Leopold acknowledged the possibility his NHL playing career could be over. To date, there’s been nothing new on Volchenkov, Schlemko or Gleason.
Stephen Weiss, Martin Erat, Daniel Briere, Michael Ryder, Tomas Fleischmann, Brad Boyes, Jiri Tlusty, Curtis Glencross, Mike Santorelli, Derek Roy and Lee Stempniak are the notable forwards still unsigned. There’s been nothing new on Weiss since his buyout by the Detroit Red Wings on June 30. There’s also been very little contract news regarding Erat, Ryder, Tlusty, Fleischmann, Glencross, Santorelli and Stempniak.
After 18 NHL seasons, Briere is facing retirement. Roy’s agent suggested teams with cap issues are one reason why his client hasn’t been signed yet. TSN’s Travis Yost last month wondered why Boyes was still unsigned, considering him a useful and affordable option for teams in need of forward depth.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A few of these players could end up signing inexpensive one-year deals before training camps open in September. The rest will either have to accept training-camp tryout offers, move to Europe to continue their playing careers or retire.