Gallery: NHL's top 20 free agents

 

With the NHL trade deadline 24 days away, there are way more buyers than sellers because there are few teams that are definitely out of the playoff picture, barring a miracle run — the Columbus Blue Jackets, Florida Panthers, Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and Buffalo Sabres. Here are the top 20 unrestricted free agents who could move on April 3, mostly as rentals.

 
 
 
 
<div id="page1">Corey Perry of the Anaheim Ducks falls under the Marian Hossa, Ilya Kovalchuk umbrella, only Anaheim is a much better club than Atlanta ever was when they traded their studs in their prime at the deadline.</div>
 

Corey Perry of the Anaheim Ducks falls under the Marian Hossa, Ilya Kovalchuk umbrella, only Anaheim is a much better club than Atlanta ever was when they traded their studs in their prime at the deadline.

Photograph by: Getty Images, Postmedia News

 
<div id="page1">Corey Perry of the Anaheim Ducks falls under the Marian Hossa, Ilya Kovalchuk umbrella, only Anaheim is a much better club than Atlanta ever was when they traded their studs in their prime at the deadline.</div>
Calgary Flames Jarome Iginla is 35, Perry is 27. There&#8217;s a big difference in compensation. The Flames captain has a no-trade clause in his contract and has never wanted to play anywhere else, but if Calgary is out of the playoffs, I&#8217;m betting Jay Feaster will come to him and says, &#8220;Here&#8217;s three teams that want you. Take your pick.&#8221; He&#8217;d be a nice rental for the Boston Bruins or Pittsburgh Penguins.
San Jose Sharks right wing Ryane Clowe Only 30, he&#8217;s a prototypical snarly power forward, although his stats are nothing to jump up and down about this season. Clowe of two years ago was a better buy, but it&#8217;s tough to knock his ability to get to the blue paint.
The Red Wings have to make a decision on the Finnish centre, who likely wants considerably more than the $3 million he&#8217;s making now. They&#8217;ll be in a playoff race, so GM Ken Holland may want to hold on to him because he takes pressure off Pavel Datsyuk, but if he walks in July, it&#8217;s not a good move.
We can&#8217;t fathom the Devils moving the best of the power forwards David Clarkson at the deadline, somebody only 28, because he&#8217;s a unique player who has evolved into a top-six guy. They may roll the dice and hope he&#8217;ll be loyal and stay, but they thought UFA winger Zach Parise would stay at the last trade deadline, and he moved to the Minnesota Wild.
The only way Daniel Alfredsson is on the move is if he gives the green light. He&#8217;s a Senator through and through, and at 40, this could well be his last NHL year. If the Sens are in the playoff hunt, he won&#8217;t want to go anywhere.
New York Islanders captain Mark Streit, 35, would give some team a power-play point man. I guess you could say the same for teammate Lubomir Visnovsky at the deadline. The Isles are usually in sell-off mode.
Brenden Morrow has a big heart and seems to have overcome last year&#8217;s run of injuries. But the Stars are going younger, except for Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney. He would be an ideal rental for a contender. The Canucks would be perfect landing spot.
Buffalo`s Robyn Regehr has slowed down from his days in Calgary, but everybody is looking for defencemen at the deadline and the Sabres are overloaded with them. He&#8217;s only 32.
Nik Antropov of the Winnipeg Jets is the type of big-body winger/centre teams are looking for. Better than Alexei Ponikarovsky, who was traded back to New Jersey few weeks ago. Antropov has Stanley Cup contender pickup written all over him.
Ron Hainsey of the Winnipeg Jets is one of the NHLPA&#8217;s most vocal collective bargaining agreement guys has some offensive chops, in the short term. He&#8217;s overpaid at $4.5 million, but would make a third-pairing blue-liner on a good team.
Ryan Whitney of the Edmonton Oilers should have listed higher, but somebody will give him a look for a few months as a rental. The St. Louis Blues need a D-man, so do the Carolina Hurricanes.
Nikolai Khabibulin of the Edmonton Oilers would be excellent insurance in net with a Cup win in Tampa Bay. He&#8217;s 40, but until he got groin problems, he was terrific. Somebody will trade for him if he&#8217;s back and playing.
Minnesota Wild's Pierre-Marc Bouchard is not the player he once was &#8212; a skilled, crafty, small guy &#8212; because of concussion issues, a little tentative but for a Cup contender might be worth a third-round draft pick. He&#8217;s been healthy scratch this season.
Matt Cullen of the Minnesota Wild was a rental once before in Ottawa and did a terrific job. He&#8217;s a pro&#8217;s pro, and still has something left in him. He&#8217;s a very good faceoff guy.
Red Wings defenceman Ian White has been a healthy scratch six straight games on the back end, beaten out for ice-time by rookie Brian Lashoff. Wonder if the Hurricanes would take him back or are White and Joe Corvo the same player?
The Edmonton Oilers like right-winger Ryan Jones and want him back, but if they&#8217;re out of the playoffs, will they send him on his way and hope they can sign him in July?
Jordan Leopold of the Buffalo Sabres. See Regehr. Same age, serviceable third pairing guy on good team.
Ryan O&#8217;Byrne of the Colorado Avalanche is a big body D-man, who can play 15 minutes a game on a contender.
Florida's Stephen Weiss would have been in top-five free-agents list as a No. 2 centre on a Cup threat, but had wrist surgery and is out for the season. With Florida spinning its wheels, they&#8217;ll be in sell-off mode. Goalie Jose Theodore would have gone too, but he has a bad knee.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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