By JD Lagrange – For hockey fans, these are the dog days of summer. The NHL Draft has come and gone. The trades are at a stand still. The free agents’ frenzy is all but over. And the rookie camps are still a month away. As most fans are outside taking advantage of the summer months, some are still zoned in to social medias trying to get the latest news and rumours about their favourite players and teams.
For those, I’ve decided to provide whatever little meat there is left on the free agents board’s bones. That’s right, there are still guys who haven’t put their names at the bottom of a contract. For most, we’re talking about role players, or players who are on the fringe between the NHL, the AHL or who are, by now, entertaining the thoughts of extending their career by playing in Europe. But there are still some useful players available out there.
While most people will sort such lists by points or cap hit, I personally prefer using a statistic that is somewhat more telling and that includes the usefulness of a player: the time on the ice per game played. This way, it includes players who are not necessarily known for their offensive contribution but who will play key minutes in games, and players who have been injured and didn’t play as many games.
|Calvin De Haan||LD||31||69||4||4||8||0.12||-21||18:57|
There are still two players who can still play key roles on teams. Anton Stralman still is, at 35 years of age, a good top-4 defenseman in the NHL. And being right-handed is a rare commodity in today’s NHL so one would think that teams have been calling, and perhaps they are trying to free up the necessary cap space to sign him.
We all know about Nazem Kadri, who is milking his first opportunity to decide where he will be playing next. Kadri has reportedly received a 7-year contract offer from Lou Lamoriello and the New York Islanders, for a value of around $49-50 million. He’s obviously still deciding…
Then you have what I would refer to as the group B at this point. Guys like Calvin De Haan, P.K. Subban, Paul Stastny, Phil Kessel, Evan Rodrigues, Sonny Milano, Jonathan Dahlen and Sam Gagner, who can still help teams in a secondary role. At this point, these guys can be added to a roster at rebate but they still would likely prefer one last kick at the can for a Stanley Cup run.
The last group are guys who are desperately clinging to the hope of landing a job in the NHL, even at minimum wage, but are also starting to contemplate Europe, or even the ever tough decision of retirement as an option.
For the Montreal Canadiens? Only one option would make any sense and that’s Stralman. Signing him would give young players like 20 year-old Justin Barron and 19 year-old Logan Mailloux to properly develop, and would push David Savard and Chris Wideman down to second and third pairing, where they truly belong. But he will likely want a chance to win a Cup, so Habs’ fans better not hold their breath when it comes to UFAs. They better look at trade options, if anything at all.