With NHL training camps about a month away there are still many NHL free agents looking for a new home. Among them are some distinguished veterans. They have won awards, Stanley Cups and Olympic medals and most of all are respected throughout the league. Critics were shrugging their shoulders at the premiere of the hollywood relase The Expendables, with an aging cast including Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and cameos by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis. The Expendables showed that those veterans still had a lot to offer action movie fans as it took first place at the box office for its first two weeks in theatres. Here is a list of ten veteran NHL free agents still on the market. Some are still productive, some have left their best years behind them. But they all in their own way could help the right NHL team. They are all hoping to prove, like Sly and the gang, that they are anything but Expendable.
Doug Weight (age 39): Career (1220 games, 276 goals, 748 assists, 1024 total points)
How can the recent Islander not be looked at as a positive veteran presence in any dressing room. One of the premier set-up men in his prime Doug Weight is now more of a role player and team leader as he was most recently as the captain of the New York Islanders. His best years behind him Weight still contributed to the Carolina Hurricanes Stanley Cup championship in 2006 and would either be a nice contributor to a team close to contending or a solid veteran leader on a youth oriented club.
Owen Nolan (age 38): Career (1200 games, 422 goals, 463 assists, 885 total points)
Owen Nolan only knows how to play the game one way, and that’s like a bull in a china shop who’s only goal is to score while knocking anyone and everything over in his path. Although injuries have always been a problem, primarily with Nolan’s back, he has always proven to be an effective player. An impact physical player who can still produce (25 and 16 goals the past two seasons with Minnesota) a healthy Nolan would certainly boost the hopes of an emerging contender.
Paul Kariya (age 35): Career (989 games, 402 goals, 587 assists, 989 total points)
The knock on Paul Kariya has always been his size. Many didn’t seem to mind when he was one of the premier snipers in the NHL from the late 90’s to the early 2000’s. The last few years, however, Kariya has been more a power play specialist and second line winger. He managed to pot 18 goals in 75 games with the St. Louis Blues last year after only playing 11 games the year before. On the right team, and specifically the right power-play, Kariya can still be a boost offensively. His character is never in question as is his sportsmanship, Kariya has won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy twice.
Bill Guerin (age 39): Career ( 1263 games, 429 goals, 427 assists, 856 total points)
The one thing Bill Guerin brings to any team is experience. The two time Stanley Cup champion (1995 with NJ, 2009 with PIT) is a gritty performer who can create more space for a skilled linemate while still being able to put the puck in the net. Guerin would work well as a mentor on a young team (similar to his role with the Islanders from 2007-09) however I feel like after winning Lord Stanely again in Pittsburgh he’ll be looking to hitch his wagon to a Stanley Cup contender.
Brendan Morrison (age 35): Career (829 games, 187 goals, 360 assists, 547 total points)
Dependability and durability are really the best two ways to describe the classy veteran centre. Always more of a playmaker than a scorer, Morrison is more than adequate in the offensive zone while playing responsible in his own end of the ice. Once a member of one of the most feared lines in the NHL (with Todd Bertuzzi and Markus Naslund in Vancouver) Morrison is still a strong 3rd line centre who can jump up to a top two role in a heartbeat.
Manny Legace (age 37): Career (365 games, 187 wins)
Mostly just a strong backup other than a few seasons in Detroit and St. Louis, Legace has always been a reliable saviour when his team’s number one goaltender has been injured. He has done nothing lately to prove he is anything but a reliable second option, however he is at the point now where he can help a team by playing behind youth and helping mentor a young up and coming goalie.
Jonathon Cheechoo (age 30): Career (501 games, 170 goals, 135 assists, 305 total points)
At age 30 you would think he’s still a bit young to be on this list, but Cheechoo plays like a guy who is closer to his 40’s. The Maurice “Rocket” Richard Tropy winner just a few years ago (2005-06) Cheechoo’s injuries have taken their toll and completely stalled his scoring touch. It was thought a fresh start in Ottawa would be the ticket but when Cheechoo fizzled early he spent 25 games in the AHL and was bought out at the end of last year. There are some that believe in the right situation, and if truly healthy Cheechoo can still contribute a 20 goal campaign. He may become a cheap stop-gap option that pans out.
Willie Mitchell (age 33): Career (586 games, 19 goals, 100 assists, 119 total points)
Really posting Mitchell’s stats are laughable because the guy really isn’t a point producer. He is however, one of the strongest shut down defensemen in the NHL. He is physical, positionally sound, a strong shot blocker and a born leader. Mitchell’s problem seems to be staying healthy although he isn’t resting on his laurels and travelling to interested teams (Washington, L.A., Vancouver) and working out for them in an effort to prove he still has some gas left in the tank.
Jose Theodore (age 33): Career (548 games, 245 wins)
I’m not sure anyone knew when Jose Theodore won both the Hart Memorial Trophy and the Vezina Trophy with the Montreal Canadiens in 2002 that it would be as good as it gets. A solid regular season goaltender who seems to struggle in the playoffs, Theodore was surplanted two playoffs in a row by the younger, less experienced Simeon Varlamov in Washington. With the goaltending market seemingly dry it will be interesting to see what path Theodore’s career takes next.
Miroslav Satan (age 35): Career (1050 games, 363 goals, 372 assists, 735 total points)
The one thing Satan has always been able to do is score. The enigmatic winger has often left fans wanting, however has always been able to light the lamp. He finally won a Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh in 2009 and proved again last season with the Bruins as a mid-season additon that he can still help kick start an offense scoring 9 goals in only 38 games. Satan then added 5 goals and 5 assists in 13 playoff games for the Bruins proving he can produce in the playoffs as well. Satan is pretty much a one-dimensional player but the one thing he does, score goals, he does really well. He could be a boost to a team looking to add a little pop to their offense.