The Stanley Cup has finally been won, congratulations Chicago, and now it is time for teams to start looking towards the future. July 1st is right around the corner and, although the crop is thin this year, there is talent to be had. There are a lot of storylines going into free agency, can Chicago keep their core together? Does Pittsburgh have money to keep it’s stars? What do the Flyers do to stop the revolving door of goaltenders?
Here are just some of my free agency predictions and where they will be lacing up their skates next season.
Ray Emery – Goaltender, Chicago Blackhawks
Ray Emery has resurrected his career during his time in Chicago, much like the mythical phoenix, but know it is time for Emery to become a number one netminder once again. In 24 games played with the Stanley Cup champs, Emery recorded a 1.94 GAA and is still relatively young at age 30.
The Flyers are said to be interested in Emery, a team he played for in the 2009-10 season. When Emery started his comeback in 2011, Emery stated that Philadelphia would be his first choice of teams. The Flyers goaltending situation is murky at best with Steve Mason and the absence of Ilya Bryzgalov.
Do the Flyers even have money to spend on Emery? Their salary cap situation is difficult and the signing of Mark Streit just exacerbates it, but it’s clear that the Flyers need some goaltending. Emery would be cost effective, but again does Philly have the dough?
The New York Islanders are another team to watch for. While there is no current link between the Islanders and Emery, I think he would be a great fit on Long Island. The Isles are a team on the rise and need some solid goaltending and Emery, I believe, could be the guy.
When the dust settles, the Flyers will be the team to swoop in and snatch Ray Emery.
Prediction: Philadelphia Flyers
Nathan Horton – Winger, Boston Bruins
Nathan Horton is a talented hockey player, that’s for certain. However, Horton’s past injury concerns may raise some red flags and cause teams to think twice about signing him.
Horton has concussion issues dating back to the 2011 Stanley Cup Final after a hit for Aaron Rome and also needs shoulder surgery this offseason. The question is, is Horton healthy enough to be productive?
The news of the Bruins not retaining Andrew Ference or Jaromir Jagr creates more room for the Bruins to re-sign Horton. Horton, when healthy, has been a productive player for Boston, he scored 19 points during the playoffs this year. Peter Chiarelli wants Horton back, but does Horton want to come back? Only time will tell us.
Prediction: Boston Bruins
Daniel Alfredsson – Right Wing, Ottawa Senators
Daniel Alfredsson has been the face and the captain of the Ottawa Senators for years and years now, but that could all be changing very soon. Alfredsson is expected to tell the Senators of his future plans on Friday. Whether that be staying in Canada’s capital, heading to a contender, or riding off into that sunset, we will know by Friday.
In my opinion, Alfredsson leaves Ottawa. It’s going to be a tough decision for Alfredsson as he is the best player the Senators have ever produced and being the leader of that team for so long. Without Alfredsson’s presence, the Senators absolutely miss the playoffs the past two years, his presence is huge and will be sorely missed in Ottawa.
I don’t think he retires, either. Alfredsson wants a shot at winning the Stanley Cup and he is very deserving of hoisting the Stanley Cup at least once in his illustrious career. So, where does he go then?
Alfredsson is going to look for a contender to finally win that coveted Cup. I think a team like Pittsburgh will work for him. The Penguins are filled with a team of captains with Sidney Crosby, Jarome Iginla, and Brandon Morrow, Alfredsson would fit right in. He would sign for a pretty cheap deal just for a chance to win, so , Pittsburgh nabs him and tries to make another run.
Prediction: Pittsburgh Penguins
Pascal Dupuis – Left Wing, Pittsburgh Penguins
Pascal Dupuis is a very talented player, but has played underneath the shadow of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in Pittsburgh. Dupuis is a very underrated player and is looking to prove that he is capable of a lucrative contract.
If Dupuis wants to be paid like a top line player, he might want to start packing his bags now. Pittsburgh has too much money invested in other players to sign Dupuis to a lucrative deal. His skillset is worthy of a hefty deal, but how much of that is talent or just playing with the likes of Crosby, Malkin, or James Neal?
Dupuis wants to remain in Pittsburgh, but in order to do that he will need to take a “hometown discount”. It’s going to be difficult for the Penguins to re-sign Dupuis. A lot of pieces have to be moved around in order to bring the productive winger back and I just don’t see it happening.
Prediction: Leaves Pittsburgh for greener pastures
Jarome Iginla – Right Wing, Pittsburgh Penguins
Jarome Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis Iginla is perhaps the best player today that has not won a Stanley Cup. That is a travesty to me. He tried like hell this past season spurning the Boston Bruins to join the more talented Penguins. The move didn’t work out so well as the Penguins were swept by the very same Bruins that he turned down.
Iginla is hungry for the Cup. His next move will be to a contender because time is seriously running out for Iginla to win the Stanley Cup. Iginla will sign with a perennial contender and that team will be the Chicago Blackhawks. Why the Blackhawks you may ask? Iginla based his trade decision on who he felt had a better team and this time around the Blackhawks are clearly the best team in the league and has a very good chance to repeat next season.
Of course that just means that Chicago will be swept in the Stanley Cup Final next season to… the Pittsburgh Penguins. Oh, well.
Prediction: Chicago Blackhawks
There are many more players that I could write about, but that would be pages and pages long. Did I miss somebody or just not agree with my predictions? Comment below or contact on Twitter, @MarkWGraham.