By: Scott Bluni
1. RW Shane Doan (Phoenix)
Now entering the twilight of his career, the 35-year-old captain of the Phoenix Coyotes has the potential to profoundly impact several teams in the NHL. While most people seem to think that Doan will return to Phoenix because he has been playing for them since 1996, it has been reported that upwards of 16 teams have contacted him with hopes of signing him. A handful of teams have also made formal offers for him. Despite not being the offensive threat he was once, Doan has the ability to contribute between 20-30 goals and 50-60 points if he has a good supporting cast of players around him. Last year in 79 games played, he had 22 goals and 50 points. He also brings a physical game and can easily post 200 hits a season. In addition to this, taking into account his captain status in Phoenix, he brings leadership, playoff experience as well as Olympic experience. The guy has been a productive winger who brings intangibles since he joined the league. If any team can grab him this offseason, they’ll be adding an exceptional amount of offense, hitting and leadership to their team.
2. C Jason Arnott (St. Louis)
The 37-year-old center is a top 9 forward who can play a gritty, physical game. Standing at 6’5”, 220 lbs., the guy is built like a middle linebacker who can skate hard and score goals. With 417G in 938 points in 1,244 games played, the guy is a seasoned veteran who has consistently had a scoring touch. Last year he had 17G, 17A and 34 points with a +13 rating with the Saint Louis Blues. He can still put up 30-50 points a season given good health and a solid supporting cast. Arnott brings a great two-way game, veteran experience, leadership and a bit of scoring. The crafty veteran would be a great addition for any contending team.
3. D Carlo Colaiacovo (St. Louis)
Colaiacovo is a top-four defenseman with 9 years of NHL experience. And at the ripe age of 29, he still has a promising future ahead of him. During his four years in St. Louis he has done exceptionally well. In 259 games played, he has been able to move the puck exceptionally well with 88 assists and 106 points overall. The former 1st rounder stands at 6’1”, 205 lbs. and is a versatile defenseman. He can distribute the puck well, make big hits, make smart defensive decisions and can drop the gloves when a team needs him to. Oh yeah, and with 54 career power play points he can also be a valuable asset to a team’s powerplay. Colaiacovo is a solid two-way defenseman who has yet to hit his prime and remains a fantastic top-4 defensive option for several teams this offseason.
4. RW Andrei Kostitsyn (Nashville)
Last season Andrei (the elder Kostitsyn) was traded to the Nashville Predators from the Montreal Canadians at the trade deadline. Kostitsyn had a great amount of success there, scoring 4 goals and 12 points in just 19 games. He ended with 16 goals and 36 points on the entire season. In 6 out of his 7 years in the NHL, Kostitsyn has managed to get to 15 goals or more and stay in the 35-50 point range. He’s a valuable depth-scoring asset, but he does have a bit of an attitude problem. As some of you may remember, last year he and KHL star turned NHL bust, Alexander Radulov, were suspended by the team for a curfew violation during the Predators’ second round playoff loss to the Phoenix Coyotes. The 27-year-old Kostitsyn is a great scorer who can be effective on the power play and has 20-career game winning goals, but he’s got some attitude issues. He’s also fairly young and could possibly play better later on in his career. Kostitsyn would thrive in an environment with stern coaching and a mature, veteran leadership presence.
5. D Matt Gilroy (Ottawa)
Gilroy has had a rough NHL career thus far playing with three NHL teams in his first three NHL seasons, but he has serious potential to be a top-pair defenseman in the right conditions. Being a Boston guy, I love watching Gilroy play and would love to watch him have success. For those of you who don’t know, Gilroy is a NCAA champion with the Boston University Terriers and a Hobey Baker Award winner, which is annually awarded to the top NCAA men’s hockey player. At 27 years old, Gilroy is still young with his best games far ahead of him. Last year he had his most successful NHL season with 3G/17A/20P. He’s a skilled player who hasn’t yet completely brought his game together. However, with time and patience I believe Gilroy will be a fantastic defenseman worthy of a top-slot on any roster. He has the skill, the speed and the size to be one of the more dynamic defensemen in the league. All he needs now is a long-term contract with a good team.