We are now into mid-August, the dog days of the hockey season, but there are still a number of pretty solid NHL players that are available as un-restricted free agents, including Nikolai Zherdev who was let loose by the NY Rangers today. That got me to thinking, if we took the best of the currently unrestricted free agents, what might the team look like. Here is one possibility.
|Left Wing||Center||Right Wing|
|Alex Tanguay||Robert Lang||Nikolai Zherdev|
|Vaclav Prospal||Dominic Moore||Petr Sykora|
|Todd Bertuzzi||Manny Malholtra||Jason Williams|
|Miroslav Satan||Rob Niedermayer||Mike Grier|
|Blair Betts||Maxim Afinogenov|
|Matthieu Schneider||Dennis Seidenberg|
|Martin Skoula||Marc-Andre Bergeron|
|Christian Backman||Jassen Cullimore|
That is actually not all that horrible of a team. Every one of the forwards on the projected top 4 lines had at least 10 goals with 9 of them getting at least 15. Blair Betts is a nice reserve defensive specialist and Afinogenov has great speed and some skill that went missing last season but certainly has 15-20 goal offensive upside, if not more. On defense you have three defensemen with at least 30 points and some decent depth, though nothing exceptional. All totaled, those 18 skaters accounted for 253 goals and 646 points which isn’t too shabby considering the Stanley Cup champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins, only had 258 goals and 706 goals. Accounting for the fact that the above all-UFA team didn’t total the typical number of man-games that a normal team would have (i.e. 12*82=984 for forwards, and 6*82=492 for defensemen) and the all-UFA offensive production is more like 260 goals and 668 points.
The goaltending is clearly a little weak but if Fernandez can remain healthy enough to play 40+ games it may not be too bad. MacDonald had a decent year for the Islanders last year as well.
So my question(s) to you all is this: How many teams in the NHL as their rosters current sit are worse than the above team? Islanders? Kings? Avalanche? Lightning? Thrashers? Could the above team compete for a playoff spot in the eastern Conference?