By Allan Muir
This time last summer, there wasn’t much interest in Michal Rozsival. The big defensemen had played well for the Coyotes during Phoenix’s run to the Western Conference finals in 2012, but coming off a contract that had a cap hit of $5 million, he was seen as too old, too limited. He was viewed as a Plan B type. As time passed, he became a Plan C.
Rozsival lingered on the open market longer than most, his value diminishing with each passing day, before he finally signed a one-year, $2 million deal with the Blackhawks on Sept. 11, 2012.
By that point, his signing rated little more than a couple of paragraphs in the Chicago papers. Rozsival was seen as an upgrade over No. 6 defenseman Sheldon Brookbank and insurance in case prospect Dylan Olsen wasn’t quite ready to make the jump to the NHL. But a free agent coup? Not at all.
Rozsival was in and out of the lineup during the season, playing just 27 of 48 regular-season games as part of a bottom-end rotation. But when it came to crunch time in the playoffs, there he was, playing big minutes in key contests against the Kings and the Bruins. There may have been better signings last summer, but how many of them ended up with their names on the Stanley Cup?
That’s just a reminder that in free-agency, it’s funny how things can work out. While most of the attention goes to the players who are signed early to big money and long term contracts, there are still some impact players to be had as the offseason slides from August into September.
Of course, some UFAs are still floating on the market for a good reason. Here’s a look at some of the key names out there and what might lie ahead for each: