2011 NHL Free Agency Roundup: Centers

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jason arnott blues

 

TOP NHL CENTER FREE AGENTS

 

There is no real baseball being played right now, despite what Bud Selig wants us to think.  There is no action in the NBA or NFL with both locked out and barred from their sport.  The only real sport still rolling is the NHL.  With the free agency period a little more than a week and a half old, the top players of the class have been signed to the big contracts, the accompanying pieces have been signed, and we have a general sense of what every NHL team’s line ups come this fall.  It’s time to take a look at where  the top players signed  and what more to expect this NHL offseason.  To see who the top centers are and where they went, continue after the jump.

 

Bryan Vickroy

 

Let’s take a look at the top ten free agents at the center position, and who they’ve signed new contracts with this offseason.  Green font indicates a player who has not yet been signed.

 

 

 

Centers

 

richards rangers

 

1.  Brad Richards

Dallas Stars ->New York Rangers ( 9 years, $60 mil)

Richards was considered the top unrestricted free agent this offseason, and let his former team, the Dallas Stars, know that he would be leaving and testing the open market.  After entertaining up to a half dozen teams over a two day period, Richards chose the Rangers as his new team.  New York gets a big time center to hopefully return Marian Gaborik to his goal scoring ways.

 

 

2 Tim Connolly

Buffalo Sabres -> Toronto Maple Leafs (2 years, $9.75 mil)
Connolly is a hard working centerman who will give the Maple Leafs some of the toughness and grit they’ve been lacking for years now.   For the heat GM Brian Burke took for being in Afghanistan on the opening day of free agency, the Leafs came out with one of the better players available.

 

 

3.  Tomas Fleischmann

Colorado Avalanche -> Florida Panthers (4 years, $18 mil)

Fleischmann essentially hit the lottery this year.  With the Panthers needing to spend a lot to get to even the salary floor this season, a cap hit 0f $4.5 mil over four years is quite generous for a player who has never score more than 23 goals.  But he showed he had some skill when given playing time in Colorado, and now will be given plenty of opportunities to earn his paycheck in Florida.

 

 

4.    Marcel Goc
Nashville Predators -> Florida Panthers (3 years, $5.1 mil)

Goc also found a way to cash in down in Miami, but not as big.  Goc is a skilled two way player who will give the Panthers some discipline up the middle of the ice.  Will instantly make Florida better defensively and more efficient when he’s on the ice.

 

 

5. Rob Niedermayer

Buffalo Sabres -> Switzerland

In something of a surprise move, Niedermayer will play the next season for Lugano in the Swiss pro league.  Perhaps there wasn’t much interest for him in the NHL, or the money just wasn’t right.  In any event, it looks like we’ve seen the last of the Niedermayer brothers in the NHL.

 

 

6.  Michal Handzus

Los Angeles Kings -> San Jose Sharks (2 years, $5 mil)

Handzus is big and experienced, and a pretty sure bet to get between 15 and 20 goals in a season.  Mostly brought in for his skills at the face off dot and discipline in his own zone.  Unfortunately, he doesn’t bring much playoff experience or playoff intensity, something the Sharks desperately need.

 

 

max talbot

 

7.   Max Talbot 

Pittsburgh Penguins -> Philadelphia Flyers (5 years $9 mil)

Talbot is considered one of the more “annoying” players in the game, which in hockey circles, is actually something of a term of respect.  While you may not like him, his game can speak for itself, and he has shown dynamic presence during the playoffs, especially the Stanley Cup.  This contract may be voided, as it apparently violates the CBA, and will need to be restructured.

 

 

8. John Madden

Minnesota Wild -> UNSIGNED

Madden had said during last season that he would like to either retire or return to the Minnesota Wild.  When it became clear the Wild were looking to move in a younger direction, it appeared Madden would retire.  But he still has the will and drive, and has decided to continue looking for an opportunity to play in the NHL this coming season.

 

 

9.   Eric Belanger

Phoenix Coyotes -> Edmonton Oilers (3 years, $5.25 mil)

Belanger isn’t one of the better players in the league, but he contributes both offensively and defensively, and is one of the more highly regarded players in the game.  Brings 15 goals a year and a high face off percentage to a team getting ready to make the jump.

 

 

10.  Jason Arnott

Washington Capitals -> St. Louis Blues (1 year, $2.8 mil)

Arnott is an experience veteran who has made his way around the league.  He has 400 career goals and 900 career points, and will help guide the young Blues roster through this season.  Arnott is a proven winner, and gives the Blues a true leader, something they’ve been missing while remaking the roster the past year.

 

 

 

 

bryan vickroy the sports bank

 

Bryan Vickroy has an addiction to hockey, and is willing to partake in all its forms.  He is skating extra shifts for The Sports Bank, covering the Minnesota Wild, the NHL, and NCAA hockey all year long.  Look for new articles throughout the week.  He can be followed on Twitter at @bryanvickroy.  If you’d prefer to speak in more than 140 characters at a time to him, he can be reached at bryan.vickroy@gmail.com .

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