Last summer, Mason Raymond didn’t sign his contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs until Sept. 23. He went on to score 19 goals and got a three-year deal with the Calgary Flames on July 1. Ron Hainsey completed his deal with the Carolina Hurricanes on Sept. 12, and the Canes were so pleased with his play he earned a three-year contract extension in June.
The late offseason was dotted with nice value deals signed by teams that took advantage of a tight cap space. Guys like Dustin Penner or Tim Thomas who weren’t snapped up in the initial frenzy ended up making contributions to their teams both during the season and at the trade deadline.
It’s gone quiet right now in hockey, but teams are now starting to look at the best of what’s left on the free-agent market. Nashville grabbed two centers this week, Derek Roy and Mike Ribiero. The New York Rangers gave a two-year deal to Matthew Lombardi.
Teams aren’t necessarily waiting until September.
“There’s a few players that teams are starting to call on to round out the roster,” said one agent on Wednesday. “They go through the initial blast of free agents, then it gets quiet. Then they get into arbitrations and qualifying offers.”
The players remaining have question marks, but that’s why they’re still out there. And that’s why there’s potential for value in a cap world where every dollar counts. Here’s a look at the latest on some of the best unrestricted free agents on the market.