Free Agency Look: Centers
With the start of free agency around the corner, starting on July 1st, FloridaPanthers.com looks at some of the top free agents at their prospective positions. After last summer's haul in Free Agency to help the team win their first Division title in franchise history, will the Panthers add any of the below players to help in their defense of the Southeast crown. (Rankings based off of CBSSports.com's Eye on Hockey staff)
|Red Wings center Jiri Hudler
Jiri Hudler (Detroit Red Wings)
Jiri Hudler has played his entire NHL career for the Detroit Red Wings. As a restricted free agent in 2009, Hudler filed for arbitration and played a year for the Dynamo Moscow of the KHL. This off-season he is an unrestricted free agent and has free reign on the market.
The Czech born player had 50 points with a plus-ten rating for the Red Wings last season. He is a sharp-shooter who recorded a career-high 25 goals and will improve a team in more ways than one. Hudler also has a Stanley Cup to his credit, which he won in 2008.
Olli Jokinen (Calgary Flames)
Last season, the former Florida Panther had his best season since leaving Florida. Despite playing injured the majority of the season, Jokinen had 61 points, with 23 goals and 38 assists for the Calgary Flames. Jokinen has had 50 or more points the past nine seasons.
Jokinen had surgery in May for an abdominal tear that didn’t keep him out of any games. Jokinen is a tough, old school player who could be an offensive add for any team.
Paul Gaustad (Nashville Predators)
Paul Gaustad, an eighth-year vet, is a serviceable, gritty forward that can win face-offs for a club needing a bottom-six center. The 29-year-old tallied 21 points in 70 games in a season split between Buffalo and Nashville.
Kyle Wellwood (Winnipeg Jets)
Kyle Wellwood proved to be a spark in his first season with the Winnipeg Jets. In 77 games, he totaled 47 points with a rating of plus-three. He is coming off a broken foot he suffered towards the end of last season.
Jason Arnott (St Louis Blues)
The 38-year-old Arnott proved he still had some left in the tank after a solid 2011-2012 season with the St Louis Blues. In 72 games, Arnott had 17 goals and 17 assists for a total of 34 points. Arnott, in fact, has recorded 17 goals in all but two of his 18-year career which shows that he's a nice complemental scoring threat for any team that signs him.