The NHL's unrestricted free agent period begins at noon ET on July 5.
Under the new CBA, pending unrestricted free agents are allowed to be interviewed by any team 48 hours prior to the start of free agency.
As a result, some of the best available players could have contracts in place with new teams before the free agent market officially opens, though they cannot be signed until then.
With that in mind, here's a look at this year's crop of notable unrestricted free agents and the clubs that could pursue them.
Daniel Briere: Briere (who'll turn 36 in October) has attracted interest from clubs seeking an experienced scorer. The Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, Nashville Predators and Montreal Canadiens are among those reportedly pursuing him.
Jarome Iginla: Having come up short in his attempt to win a Stanley Cup as a playoff rental with the Pittsburgh Penguins, the 36-year-old Iginla must seek championship glory elsewhere. The Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins (whom he spurned to be dealt to Pittsburgh) could come calling.
Nathan Horton: The 28-year-old reportedly seeks a quieter hockey market. He visited with the Columbus Blue Jackets, while Nashville, Tampa Bay, Dallas and Phoenix could also have interest in him. Horton's injury history (concussion, shoulder) and rumored six-year, $36-million asking price could scare off some suitors.
David Clarkson: The 29-year-old's physical style should attract considerable interest, though it's believed his preference is to stay in the Eastern Conference. Maple Leafs fans are salivating over the prospect of the Toronto native joining their team. The Ottawa Senators and Boston Bruins could also seek him out.
Stephen Weiss: The Panthers haven't given up trying to re-sign him, but he appears headed to the free agent market. The Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings and Dallas Stars reportedly enquired about his negotiation rights last month. The Wings could have the most interest, though the Leafs will likely make a serious bid if Tyler Bozak heads to market.
Tyler Bozak: The Maple Leafs hoped to re-sign him, but his reported asking price (eight years at just under $5-million per season) could push him to free agent waters. Bozak will get interest from teams seeking depth at center, but could balk at investing more than four years in him.
Ilya Bryzgalov: The 33-year-old goaltender has a much-hyped reputation for being offbeat and outspoken. Given the lack of quality goalies available this summer, however, Bryzgalov could be attractive to clubs (New York Islanders, Calgary Flames) in need of an affordable veteran starter.
Mike Ribeiro: If the Leafs or Red Wings lose out in the bidding for Briere and Weiss, they could give the 33-year-old Ribeiro a call. Another suitor could be the Dallas Stars, where he had his best seasons before he was dealt to the Capitals. Ribeiro reportedly sought a four- or five-year contract from the Capitals, but he could get more via free agency.
Valtteri Filppula: The Detroit Red Wings wanted to re-sign the 29-year-old, but not at his asking price of $5 million per season. A versatile forward who can play a wing position or center, Filppula could be a good fit with the Dallas Stars or Phoenix Coyotes.
Ray Emery: He and the Blackhawks were reportedly still in contract talks this week. Emery hasn't played as a starter since 2010, but could get an opportunity elsewhere (Islanders, Flames) if he goes to market. For clubs with young starters (Flyers, Oilers), he could be a good mentor and backup.
Michael Ryder: His inconsistency after joining the Montreal Canadiens in a mid-season trade cost him a shot at re-signing with the Habs. For teams seeking a scoring winger (Senators, Bruins), Ryder could prove a suitable, short-term option.
Tim Thomas: After a season-long sabbatical, the former Bruins goalie is apparently ready to return to NHL action. The 39-year-old was reportedly “intrigued” about the Flyers, but is uncertain if he'd be a good fit there. Three teams have reportedly contacted his agent.
Ryane Clowe: Injuries hampered his performance this season, but his physical style should make him attractive for teams seeking grit and leadership on their forward lines.
Keith Ballard: The Vancouver Canucks recently bought out the remaining two years of Ballard's contract. He struggled through injuries during his tenure in Vancouver and wasn't a good fit there. The Carolina Hurricanes and Minnesota Wild could give Ballard a call.
Daniel Alfredsson: The Senators currently have around $43.5 million in payroll for next season, are in the market for a top-six winger, have Patrick Wiercioch and Erik Condra to re-sign and wish to keep payroll under $50 million. Several teams have reportedly contacted Alfredsson's agent, but odds are the Senators will re-sign their long-time captain.
Rumor Roundup appears weekdays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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