By now, the unrestricted free agent market resembles a village ransacked by Vikings.
But astute NHL GMs know there’s always a bargain or two still out there, ripe for the plucking.
In fact, here’s a whole team of yet-to-be signed UFAs who are worthy of a useful role in 2009-10:
Manny Fernandez — While Tim Thomas was earning a Vezina Trophy, Fernandez quietly put up a 16-8-3 record, a 2.59 GAA and .910 save percentage.
Kevin Weekes — Backing up Martin Brodeur is like entering the witness-protection program. But Weekes is a fresh 34.
Martin Skoula — He’ll give you 20 minutes a night, 80 games a year. Like he has for an underrated decade.
Greg de Vries — Veteran works hard in his own zone. At 36, he should have one more contract left in him.
Mathieu Schneider — He’s 40, but whenever a team needs a power-play quarterback at the trade deadline, they turn to Schneider.
Dennis Seidenberg – He set career highs with Carolina last season in games, points and penalty minutes. Not to mention, a goal and six points in 16 playoff games.
Rhett Warrener — Not long ago, he blocked shots like the love child of Brad Marsh and Dikembe Mutombo. Someone should roll the dice and see if he’s fit.
Chris Chelios — Old-time hockey, anyone?
Alex Tanguay — A five-time 20-plus goal-scorer and fired two goals in a Stanley Cup Game 7. He’s only 29 and had 41 points in 50 games for Montreal last season.
Todd Bertuzzi — He wanted to return to Calgary, but the Flames have moved on. It’s not hard to envision 20 goals and 60 points.
Mike Comrie — He could help almost any team as a supplementary scorer as long as he’ll take a pay cut.
Petr Sykora — He’s only 32 and riding 10 straight 20-plus goal seasons. Surely, there’s a little left.
Robert Lang — Need a quiet 20 goals and 50 points? Lang’s your man.
Maxim Afinogenov — He’s the type of second-chance player the Wings usually sign — and then ends up potting 30.
Marcel Goc — A speedy penalty-killer who’s only 25.
Dominic Moore — He’s proven his worth as a depth centre who can check or step into a more offensive role.
Manny Malhotra — A good fit for the third line.
Boyd Devereaux – He’s not going to score very often, but he’ll give you everything he has in heart and hustle.
Rob Niedermayer – He’s big, he’ll hit and he’ll win faceoffs. Plus, whatever team signs him might be able to lure Scott, too. (Not really, but dare to dream.)
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