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Above the 49: Top 5 free agents that could draw Canadian interest
By Daniel Fung, Sports Network Columnist
Vancouver, BC (Sports Network) - The NHL free agency period is nearly a month old, but the frenzy that existed during the opening few days of the open market period has significantly died down in the last several weeks.
While the majority of the top-tier superstars who hit the unrestricted market, including the likes of Nathan Horton, Vincent Lecavalier and David Clarkson, have comfortably found new playing destinations for the 2013-14 season, there are more than a handful of quality NHL veterans that are still stuck in limbo with the opening of training camp not too far down the road.
Here is a look at five of the top free agents still available, and some of the teams north of the border that might want to take a long, hard look at them.
Brad Boyes - RW
2012-13 salary: $1 million; 2012-13 team: New York Islanders
Boyes had a bounce-back campaign last season after taking a sizeable pay cut while playing alongside John Tavares and Matt Moulson. The former 40-goal scorer demonstrated he can still be a decent offensive contributor, and is still relatively young at 31-years-old, but the fact that he's likely looking for a pay increase is what has kept him from finding a home.
The Senators might be a good fit for the right-winger as they seek to replace the void filled by the departure of former captain Daniel Alfredsson. Adding depth at the right wing position would allow the Senators to use the newly- acquired Bobby Ryan on the left side where he has experience playing if they so chose.
Brenden Morrow - LW
2012-13 salary: $4.1 million; 2012-13 team: Pittsburgh Penguins
Morrow's offensive numbers aren't quite what they were five years ago, but his leadership and work ethic more than make up for any slowdown in production. That said, it's not as if Morrow isn't capable of making an impact both on the scoresheet and with his physical, gritty play.
He had 14 points in 15 regular season games after joining the Penguins last season via trade from the Dallas Stars and, during the Pens' run to the Conference Final, was among the team leaders in hits with 40.
The Oilers and Flames, two teams that are clearly in need of a veteran presence and trying to fill a leadership void, should have Morrow high on their list. The Canadiens could also be in the mix.
Peter Mueller - RW
2012-13 salary: $1.725 million; 2012-13 team: Florida Panthers
Once a highly-regarded prospect, Peter Mueller's rise to the top has been significantly stalled by injuries, in particular his history of concussions. But at just 25-years-old, there might be teams that would be willing to take a risk on the Minnesotan who has a knack for piling up points.
He might come at a reasonable price as well as he looks to land an NHL gig for the upcoming season. A team with some concerns about their scoring depth and are in a cap crunch, like the Canucks, might be willing to take a flyer on the former first-round pick.
Ryan Whitney - D
2012-13 salary: $5.5 million; 2012-13 team: Edmonton Oilers
From being a top offensive defenseman when he broke into the NHL, to a frequent healthy scratch in his latest NHL season, Whitney's career trajectory has taken quite a dip since leaving the Penguins during the 2008-09 season.
However, even as he's dealt with struggles particularly in his own zone and injury concerns, he still has been able to demonstrate an ability to put up points.
A team like the Flames, who dealt away one of their top offensive defenseman in Jay Bouwmeester last season, might be able to find a spot for the ex-Oiler, especially as a power play specialist. The Maple Leafs might also have some interest in Whitney as well if the price is right, and they aren't able to come to terms with their leading point producer from the blue-line, Cody Franson, from last season.
Mason Raymond - LW
2012-13 salary: $2.275 million; 2012-13 team: Vancouver Canucks
Inconsistency has been the biggest knock on Raymond throughout his entire NHL career, but it's hard to imagine there aren't teams out there that would like to add the speedy winger to their depth chart. A former 25-goal scorer, Raymond still managed to put up 10 goals and 22 points in 46 games played last season while splitting time between the second and third lines.
There was a lot of interest on the part of the native of Cochrane, Alberta - a half-hour drive from Calgary - to sign with the Flames, although the feeling hasn't been reciprocated. The Jets and Maple Leafs are two teams that could also use a speedy winger like Raymond to add to their depth up front, but it would have to be at the right price.
07/31 11:45:36 ET