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It’s June 30… AKA Christmas Eve. We are exactly 24 hours from the free agents hitting the open market. Here are my predictions of where all the top guys will sign. Last summer, I went 9/38 on my predictions… let’s hope this will be better!
1. Marian Hossa Favorites: LA & VAN Dark horse: NYR Final Prediction:Vancouver (6 years, $39 million) Note… I have a feeling Mike Gillis will be busy tomorrow given the Sedins are likely walking away. He’ll start with Hossa…
2. The Sedins Favorites: MTL & TOR Dark horse: LA Final Prediction: Toronto (8 years, $48 million/each) Note… If the Sedins leave VanCity, I’m convinced Brian Burke will table the highest offer.
3. Jay Bouwmeester Favorite: CGY Dark horse: VAN Final Prediction: Calgary (5 years, $32.5 million) Note… The Flames acquired Jay-Bo’s rights on Saturday; I’m confident a deal will get done by Noon ET tomorrow.
4. Marian Gaborik Favorites: LA, NYR & VAN Dark horse: MIN Final Prediction: NY Rangers (5 years, $31.5 million) Note… I have a hunch Rangers’ GM Glen Sather will be in on the big guns again. And he will land another star with another stupid lucrative offer.
5. Martin Havlat Favorites: CHI, LA & WSH Dark horse: ANA Final Prediction: Chicago (5 years, $28 million) Note… Havlat wants to re-sign, and the ‘Hawks want him back. It may take a couple days, but I still expect to see him in the Windy City this fall.
6. Mike Cammalleri Favorite: ANA, MIN & NSH Dark horse: NYI Final Prediction: Minnesota (6 years, $31.5 million) Note… 'Cammer' will have a wide variety of suitors come tomorrow, and the Wild could want him the most. They need a goal-scoring forward to go with Mikko Koivu.
7. Nikolai Khabibulin Favorites: COL & EDM Dark horse: Russia Final Prediction: Edmonton (2 years, $11.5 million) Note… This seems like a match for both sides. ‘Bulin still wants big money and the Oilers have to get a #1 goalie to truly compete for the division title.
8. Mike Komisarek Favorites: MTL, NJ & NYI Dark horse: WSH Final Prediction: NY Islanders (4 years, $20 million) Note… It’s entirely possible he goes somewhere not on the radar; but if he does, I’ll say the Isles land the big defenseman.
9. Brian Gionta Favorites: BUF & VAN Dark horse: TOR Final Prediction: Buffalo (4 years, $16 million) Note… This was my prediction on 6/21, and it hasn’t changed since. Gionta seems like a fit in Buffalo, and they need more punch up front.
10. Mattias Ohlund Favorites: MTL & TOR Dark horse: BUF Final Prediction: Montreal (4 years, $18 million) Note… Like I said a week ago, if the Habs can’t bring Komisarek back, Gainey will go after Ohlund in a heartbeat.
11. Alexei Kovalev Favorites: EDM & MTL Dark horse: WSH Final Prediction: Montreal (3 years, $14.25 million) Note… I have no idea where he’s going, so re-signing with Montreal is the pick. Kovalev could make us a wait a while before he signs.
12. Steve Sullivan Favorites: NSH & NJ Dark horse: WSH Final Prediction: Nashville (2 years, $6 million) Note… Nothing appears close between Sully & the Preds, so he could leave town tomorrow. But as of now, I can’t see him leaving. 13. Alex Tanguay Favorites: LA, MTL & NYR Dark horse: COL Final Prediction: Los Angeles (4 years, $19 million) Note… The Kings are supposed to make a ‘splash’ in the next couple days. Tanguay could be an under-the-radar ‘splash’.
14. Scott Niedermayer Favorite: ANA Dark horse: None Final Prediction: Anaheim (1 year, $6 million) Note… Niedermayer has committed to the NHL next year, but hasn’t officially signed a deal yet. It's most likely with the Ducks.
15. Nik Antropov Favorite: None Dark horses: ATL & MIN Final Prediction: Atlanta (4 years, $16 million) Note… Antropov’s asking price will have to come down if he signs anywhere; Sather said it’s ‘ridiculous’. The Thrashers could overpay to get him…
16. Martin Biron Favorites: COL, EDM & NYI Dark horse: BUF Final Prediction: Colorado (3 years, $11.25 million) Note… I think he’ll go to Colorado as they will make him their #1 man in net.
17. Francois Beauchemin Favorites: ANA, MTL & TOR Dark horse: NJ Final Prediction: Toronto (4 years, $15 million) Note… He’s been a really solid player in Anaheim since the lockout, and could follow Brian Burke to Toronto.
18. Saku Koivu Favorites: ANA & MIN Dark horse: SJ Final Prediction: Anaheim (3 years, $13.2 million) Note… Koivu is likely leaving Montreal. Anaheim is a legit possibility as he could unite with good friend Teemu Selanne.
19. Chad LaRose Favorites: BUF, CAR & OTT Dark horse: PIT Final Prediction: Carolina (3 years, $6 million) Note… I think the ‘Canes are smart enough not to let him get away.
20. Mike Knuble Favorites: ANA, DET & WSH Dark horse: CBJ Final Prediction: Washington (2 years, $5.6 million) Note… Knuble, 36, is still a very valuable forward that can score 20-30 goals a year. A trip to Washington could really help the Caps out.
21. Erik Cole Favorites: CAR, DAL & NYI Dark horse: NSH Final Prediction: Dallas (3 years, $10.5 million) Note… Carolina could be looking to go in another direction. If so, Cole’s best fit could be in Big D.
22. Johnny Oduya Favorites: ATL, NJ & SJ Dark horse: MIN Final Prediction: New Jersey (4 years, $12 million) Note… Oduya should be a hot commodity starting tomorrow, but I think the Devils should be able to lock him up.
23. Dwayne Roloson Favorites: COL, EDM & NYI Dark horse: TB Final Prediction: NY Islanders (1 year, $2.7 million) Note… If the Isles were smart, they’d get a solid goalie as insurance for the oft-injured DiPietro. Roli would be enough for them to at least compete in every game.
24. Rob Scuderi Favorite: None Dark horses: 10-15 teams Final Prediction: San Jose (4 years, $13 million) Note… Scuderi earned his dough in the last couple postseasons. He’ll be highly valued, and the Sharks may need him the most.
25. Bill Guerin SIGNED W/ PITTSBURGH… 1 year, $2 million Note… This is a perfect fit for Guerin as he can still score goals next to Crosby. Good decision by Shero & company to bring him back.
Other notable free agents: Craig Anderson… Toronto Maple Leafs Marc-Andre Bergeron… New York Rangers Todd Bertuzzi… Tampa Bay Lightning Rob Blake… San Jose Sharks Mike Comrie… Ottawa Senators Ty Conklin… Philadelphia Flyers Ruslan Fedotenko… Pittsburgh Penguins Manny Fernandez… Los Angeles Kings Hal Gill… Pittsburgh Penguins Ales Kotalik… Washington Capitals Robert Lang… Atlanta Thrashers Ian Laperriere… San Jose Sharks Jere Lehtinen… Minnesota Wild Jordan Leopold… Dallas Stars Paul Mara… New York Rangers Derek Morris… Florida Panthers Samuel Pahlsson… Detroit Red Wings Taylor Pyatt… Vancouver Canucks Joe Sakic… Colorado Avalanche Mikael Samuelsson… Detroit Red Wings Mathieu Schneider… Montreal Canadiens Brendan Shanahan… Chicago Blackhawks Mats Sundin… No one will sign him Petr Sykora… Russia (KHL) Joel Ward… Nashville Predators Jason Williams… Calgary Flames Greg Zanon… Washington Capitals Sergei Zubov… Columbus Blue Jackets ---
Teams with the most cap space: 1. Montreal ($34.894 mil) 2. Atlanta ($27.837) 3. Phoenix ($26.322) 4. NY Islanders ($25.765) 5. Nashville ($23.163) Teams with the least cap space: 1. Philadelphia ($4.249 mil) 2. Detroit ($5.545) 3. Ottawa ($5.707) 4. Pittsburgh ($5.762) 5. San Jose ($6.974)
Our podcast 'RLD Hockey Talk' is LIVE every Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 ET/Noon CT. Some of our notable guests in past episodes have been Dustin Brown, Doc Emrick, John Buccigross, Dave Strader, E.J. Hradek, Elliotte Friedman and Jay Grossman.