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Signed with St. Louis JASON ARNOTT Position: Center (Credit: AP)

Signed with St. Louis
JASON ARNOTT
Position: Center
Last team: Washington
Age: 36
2010-11 cap hit: $4.5 million
Arnott had six points in nine games in last year's postseason, so he can still play in addition to being a good veteran presence. The young Blues, who also added former Devils teammate and captain Jamie Langenbrunner as a free agent, should benefit from both players' leadership. Both received one-year deals of about $2.8 million.

NHL free agent rankings and signings

Free agency begins July 1, so we ranked the top free agents available, with commentary from Newsday's Arthur Staple and Newsday.com's Mike Casey. We added each player's cap hit from last year so you can get a better idea of their value. And, just for fun, we added six restricted free agents at the end, some of whom could attract offer sheets from rival clubs.

Signed with Rangers BRAD RICHARDS Position: Center Last
(Credit: Getty Images)

Signed with Rangers BRAD RICHARDS
Position: Center
Last team: Dallas
Age: 31
2010-11 cap hit: $7.8 million
Update: The jewel of the 2011 free agent class was pursued by the Flames, Lightning, Leafs and Kings, but ultimately agreed to a nine-year, $60 million contract. The deal will carry a cap hit of about $6.667 million. The Rangers did what they said they wouldn't by giving Richards a lengthy mega-deal, but if the years aren't reasonable, the cap hit is. The playmaking center will join winger Marian Gaborik and former coach John Tortorella to try to carry the Rangers to the top of the NHL.

NICKLAS LIDSTROM Position: Defenseman Last team: Detroit Age:
(Credit: AP)

NICKLAS LIDSTROM
Position: Defenseman
Last team: Detroit
Age: 41
2010-11 cap hit: $6.2 million
It’s either the Wings, a victory lap in his native Sweden or retirement for the greatest European player ever to set foot in the NHL. He won’t make a one-year stab at a Cup elsewhere after 19 incredible seasons in Detroit.

Traded to and signed by Philadelphia ILYA BRYZGALOV
(Credit: AP)

Traded to and signed by Philadelphia
ILYA BRYZGALOV
Position: Goaltender
Last team: Phoenix
Age: 30
2010-11 cap hit: $4.25 million
Update: The Coyotes waived the white flag on June 8, trading Bryzgalov's exclusive negotiating rights to the Flyers for enforcer Matt Clackson and a third-round pick. On June 23, the Flyers signed Bryzgalov to a nine-year contract with an annual cap hit of $5.667 million, a deal made possible by the trades of highly paid centers Jeff Carter and Mike Richards.

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TEEMU SELANNE Position: Right wing Last team: Anaheim
(Credit: Newsday / Ana P. Gutierrez)

TEEMU SELANNE
Position: Right wing
Last team: Anaheim
Age: 40
2010-11 cap hit: $4.5 million
Much like Lidstrom, the ageless Selanne’s choices are simple: Another year in Anaheim, where his incredible season will allow him to write his own ticket, or back to Finland to retire or play.

Traded to, then signed with Buffalo. CHRISTIAN EHRHOFF
(Credit: Getty Images)

Traded to, then signed with Buffalo.
CHRISTIAN EHRHOFF
Position: Defenseman
Last team: Vancouver
Age: 28
2010-11 cap hit: $3.1 million
The Islanders made a bold move, acquiring Ehrhoff's negotating rights for a fourth-round pick, but he wasn't interested, so the Isles traded him along to Buffalo, recouping a fourth-round pick. Ehrhoff then agreed to a 10-year, $40-million deal with Buffalo. The Sabres get themselves a very good offensive defenseman who benefitted from an outstanding power play in Vancouver the last couple of years. Let's see if he can do it on a team with less firepower.

Signed with Washington TOMAS VOKOUN Position: Goaltender Last
(Credit: Getty Images)

Signed with Washington
TOMAS VOKOUN
Position: Goaltender
Last team: Florida
Age: 35
2010-11 cap hit: $5.7 million
Update: Wow. One day after the Caps got the steal of the summer by getting a first- and second-round pick from Colorado in exchange for Semyon Varlamov, they one-upped themselves by landing Vokoun for a paltry $1.5 million. Vokoun, who put up solid numbers year after year on a bad Florida team, should finally give Washington some stability in net. He'll also take the pressure off young Michael Neuvirth, who proved in last year's playoffs that he is talented, but not quite ready to lead a team to the Stanley Cup.

Signed with Carolina TOMAS KABERLE Position: Defenseman Last
(Credit: Getty Images)

Signed with Carolina
TOMAS KABERLE
Position: Defenseman
Last team: Boston
Age: 33
2010-11 cap hit: $4.25 million
Update: Kaberle was OK, but not great in helping the Bruins win the Stanley Cup. He's been a solid power play guy throughout his career, but his relatively pedestrain postseason forced him to wait out a market that was very generous towards other defensemen with big offensive numbers. He signed with Carolina on July 5; the 'Canes then traded Joe Corvo to Boston for a fourth-round pick. Kaberle essentially replaces Corvo as their No. 1 power play guy.

Re-signed with Montreal ANDREI MARKOV Position: Defenseman Last
(Credit: Getty Images)

Re-signed with Montreal
ANDREI MARKOV
Position: Defenseman
Last team: Montreal
Age: 32
2010-11 cap hit: $5.75 million
Update: The Habs re-signed Markov, one of six unrestricted free agents on their blue line, to a three-year deal after an injury-decimated season. The contract, agreed upon on June 23, carries an identical $5.75 million cap hit to his previous contract. Even though he is a top offensive defenseman when healthy, that seems a bit steep, given his recent serious knee troubles.

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Signed with Philadelphia JAROMIR JAGR Position: Right wing
(Credit: Newsday / Paul J. Bereswill, 2007)

Signed with Philadelphia
JAROMIR JAGR
Position: Right wing
Last team: Avangard Omsk (Russia)
Age: 39
2010-11 cap hit: N/A
Jagr is 39 and hasn't played in the NHL since 2007-08. But the big Czech, whose 1,599 NHL points are ninth all time and tops among active players, can still put the puck in the net. The Flyers, whose offense took a hit when they traded their top two centers this summer, swooped in and signed Jagr to a one-year, $3.3 million deal when the Pens, Wings and Canadiens were believed to be likelier destinations. Jagr scored five goals in nine games in this year's World Championships and averaged better than a point per game this season for Avangard Omsk of the KHL.

Traded to and signed by Columbus JAMES WISNIEWSKI
(Credit: Getty Images)

Traded to and signed by Columbus
JAMES WISNIEWSKI
Position: Defenseman
Last team: Montreal
Age: 27
2010-11 cap hit: $3.25 million
Update: The affable young guy pieced together a nice season between the Isles and Canadiens, but he and the Habs couldn't agree on an extension. Montreal traded his negotiating rights to Columbus, who signed him to six-year deal with an annual average of $5.5 million on July 1. He should help the Jackets' power play, which now also includes Jeff Carter.

Signed with Florida TOMAS FLEISCHMANN Position: Left wing
(Credit: AP)

Signed with Florida
TOMAS FLEISCHMANN
Position: Left wing
Last team: Colorado
Age: 26
2010-11 cap hit: $2.6 million
Update: Another major, major contract for a player with issues -- Fleischmann has twice had blood clots in his lungs, but he's still only 26. That said, four years and $18-million? He was only getting that from Florida, which is now within shouting distance of the cap floor with a truly strange collection of players.

Re-signed with Vancouver KEVIN BIEKSA Position: Defenseman Last
(Credit: Getty Images)

Re-signed with Vancouver
KEVIN BIEKSA
Position: Defenseman
Last team: Vancouver
Age: 29
2010-11 cap hit: $3.75 million
Update: The Canucks re-signed the hard-hitting Bieksa on June 27 to a five-year deal that will pay him $4.6 million annually, taking him off the market.

Re-signed by Carolina JONI PITKANEN Position: Defenseman Last
(Credit: Christopher Pasatieri)

Re-signed by Carolina
JONI PITKANEN
Position: Defenseman
Last team: Carolina
Age: 27
2010-11 cap hit: $4 million
Update: Few outside of Canes Country are familiar with Pitkanen, but he’s been among the top 15 defensemen in ice time three years running. His secret will stay safe with Carolina as he has reportedly re-signed for three years at an average of $4.5 million per year.

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Re-signed with Pittsburgh TYLER KENNEDY Position: Right wing/center
(Credit: Newsday / Paul J. Bereswill, 2008)

Re-signed with Pittsburgh
TYLER KENNEDY
Position: Right wing/center
Last team: Pittsburgh
Age: 24
2010-11 cap hit: $725,000
Update: After they declined to make him a qualifying offer, the Penguins risked losing Kennedy to unrestricted free agency. But they were able to work out a two-year, $4 million deal just before noon on July 1. Kennedy seized on the opportunity afforded by injuries to Pens stars Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby last season, scoring 21 goals and 45 points. The Pens reportedly did not give him a qualifying offer because they felt Kennedy could have taken them to arbitration and won.

Signed with Buffalo VILLE LEINO Position: Left wing
(Credit: AP)

Signed with Buffalo
VILLE LEINO
Position: Left wing
Last team: Philadelphia
Age: 27
2010-11 cap hit: $800,000
Update: Leino's skill and willingness to do the dirty corner work helped him land a sweet deal. The Sabres signed him to a six-year, $27-million contract ($4.5 million per year). It was the second big contract the Sabres shelled out in two days (Christian Ehrhoff's monstrous 10-year deal being the other), as Buffalo's new owner tries to prove his team can compete with the moneybags in the big cities.

Re-signed with Carolina JUSSI JOKINEN Position: Left wing
(Credit: Jim McIsaac)

Re-signed with Carolina JUSSI JOKINEN
Position: Left wing
Last team: Carolina
Age: 28
2010-11 cap hit: $1.7 million
Update: Solid performer stayed put, signing a three-year, $9 million deal ($3 million cap hit). He's scored 49 goals over the past two seasons and 117 points in that span. He also proved his worth in the 2009 playoffs, when he had seven goals in 18 games.

Re-signed with Tampa Bay DWAYNE ROLOSON Position: Goaltender
(Credit: Christopher Pasatieri)

Re-signed with Tampa Bay
DWAYNE ROLOSON
Position: Goaltender
Last team: Tampa Bay
Age: 41
2010-11 cap hit: $2.5 million
Update: After a great postseason, Roloson cashed in with a one-year, $3 million deal on June 29 that should make both the 41-year-old goalie and his team happy.

Signed with Dallas MICHAEL RYDER Position: Right wing
(Credit: Christopher Pasatieri)

Signed with Dallas
MICHAEL RYDER
Position: Right wing
Last team: Boston
Age: 31
2010-11 cap hit: $4 million
Update: The Stars got Ryder to agree to a pay cut from his previous average salary, with a two-year deal worth $7 million. Ryder doesn't bring a lot to the table besides goal-scoring, and he has just 18 in each of the last two seasons. But he has a knack for scoring big goals, highlighted by his eight tallies in the 2011 playoffs for the Cup-winning Bruins.

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Signed with St. Louis JASON ARNOTT Position: Center
(Credit: AP)

Signed with St. Louis
JASON ARNOTT
Position: Center
Last team: Washington
Age: 36
2010-11 cap hit: $4.5 million
Arnott had six points in nine games in last year's postseason, so he can still play in addition to being a good veteran presence. The young Blues, who also added former Devils teammate and captain Jamie Langenbrunner as a free agent, should benefit from both players' leadership. Both received one-year deals of about $2.8 million.

Signed with Los Angeles SIMON GAGNE Position: Left
(Credit: Getty Images)

Signed with Los Angeles
SIMON GAGNE
Position: Left wing
Last team: Tampa Bay
Age: 31
2010-11 cap hit: $5.25 million
Update: Not an ideal consolation prize for missing out on Brad Richards, but the Kings, who had already acquired Mike Richards, needed to spend some more money to boost their talented young core. They gave Gagne a two-year deal with a $3.5 million average annual value. Gagne had a solid postseason for Tampa, but the guy who scored 47 for the Flyers the year after the lockout isn’t coming back. He's had too many injuries and scored only 17 goals in each of the last two seasons.

Re-signed with Calgary ALEX TANGUAY Position: Left wing
(Credit: AP)

Re-signed with Calgary
ALEX TANGUAY
Position: Left wing
Last team: Calgary
Age: 31
2010-11 cap hit: $1.7 million
Update: Tanguay had a hard time finding a home last summer and took the best deal that was offered. He turned that into a surprisingly good season for a mess of a roster. His 69-point season was rewarded with a five-year, $17.5-million contract with a $3.5-million cap hit. That's a big commitment to a 31-year-old, borderline first-liner, but GM Jay Feaster clearly didn't see it that way.

Signed with Montreal ERIK COLE Position: Right wing
(Credit: AP)

Signed with Montreal
ERIK COLE
Position: Right wing
Last team: Carolina
Age: 32
2010-11 cap hit: $2.9 million
Update: Montreal and Cole agreed to a four-year, $18-million contract on July 1. The 'Canes let Cole, a speedy, gritty member of their top line with Eric Staal, walk three summers ago and brought him back at the deadline. With cap space to burn, it's surprising they'd let him get away again. His cap hit rises from $2.9 million to a still-manageable $4.5 million.

BRYAN MCCABE, Defense Islanders (1995-1998): 220 games, 18
(Credit: Christopher Pasatieri)

BRYAN MCCABE, Defense
Islanders (1995-1998): 220 games, 18 G, 45 A, 63 PTS
Rangers (2010-2011): 19 games, 2 G,4 A, 6 PTS

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Re-signed with Colorado MILAN HEJDUK Position: Right wing
(Credit: AP)

Re-signed with Colorado
MILAN HEJDUK
Position: Right wing
Last team: Colorado
Age: 35
2010-11 cap hit: $3 million
Update: Hejduk signed a one-year contract with Colorado on May 11 worth a reported $2.6 million, with incentives up to $3 million .

Signed with Toronto TIM CONNOLLY Position: Center Last
(Credit: MCT)

Signed with Toronto
TIM CONNOLLY
Position: Center
Last team: Buffalo
Age: 29
2010-11 cap hit: $4.5 million
Update: Spurned by Brad Richards, the Leafs addressed their center woes with the talented but oft-injured Connolly. The former Islander put up points consistenly when healthy, but seems to be one big hit away from calling it a career. Even though the Leafs gave him big money ($4.75 million cap hit), the term of the contract (two years) reflects a firm grasp of Connolly's fickle well-being.

Re-signed by Washington BROOKS LAICH Position: Center Last
(Credit: Jim McIsaac)

Re-signed by Washington
BROOKS LAICH
Position: Center
Last team: Washington
Age: 27
2010-11 cap hit: $2.067 million
Update: The Capitals know that if they're ever going to break through and win a Stanley Cup, they need a guy like Laich (ooh, a homophone!). He is still young, can score, plays in all situations and wins faceoffs. What’s not to like? The Caps gave him a hefty six-year deal worth an average of $4.5 million per year.

Re-signed with Tampa Bay ERIC BREWER Position: Defenseman
(Credit: AP )

Re-signed with Tampa Bay ERIC BREWER
Position: Defenseman
Last team: Tampa Bay
Age: 32
2010-11 cap hit: $4.25 million
Update: The Lightning liked Brewer's steadying presence during last season's playoff run after they picked him up from St. Louis in February. Locking him up to a four-year deal with a cap hit of $3.85 million seemed like a wise move. The physical, stay-at-home defender gives the Bolts toughness on a deep blueline.

Signed with Florida ED JOVANOVSKI Position: Defenseman Last
(Credit: Getty Images)

Signed with Florida
ED JOVANOVSKI
Position: Defenseman
Last team: Phoenix
Age: 35
2010-11 cap hit: $6.5 million
Update: After two straight injury-plagued seasons, Jovanovski agreed to a four-year contract with the Florida Panthers, with whom he reached the Cup finals in 1996. The deal will pay him $4.125 million per year, which is a heck of a lot for a guy who will be 39 when the deal ends. But the Panthers have oodles of cap room and apparently aren't shy about using it. Even if it means ending up with a team full of big, bad contracts.

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VINNY PROSPAL Position: Center Last team: Rangers Age:
(Credit: Jim McIsaac)

VINNY PROSPAL
Position: Center
Last team: Rangers
Age: 36
2010-11 cap hit: $2.48 million
He’ll play next season, but probably not for the Rangers, who need more reliability from their few veterans. His knee was a problem even after he returned for the final 29 games; if he’s healthy enough, he’ll get a one-year offer from a team like Florida that needs to fill holes on a young squad.

SCOTT HANNAN Position: Defenseman Last team: Washington Age:
(Credit: AP)

SCOTT HANNAN
Position: Defenseman
Last team: Washington
Age: 32
2010-11 cap hit: $4.5 million
Why the Avalanche gave this role-player $18 million back in 2007 is still a head-scratcher, but his weaknesses were exposed when he played too many minutes for the Caps when they were swept by Tampa. Doubt he gets much more than a two-year deal a few days into July, likely back in the Western Conference.

Signed with Ottawa ZENON KONOPKA Position: Center Last
(Credit: Jim McIsaac)

Signed with Ottawa
ZENON KONOPKA
Position: Center
Last team: Islanders
Age: 30
2010-11 cap hit: $600,000
Update: Had a good season with the Isles, but despite his popularity in the locker room, our take is that Garth Snow wasn’t sold on Konopka as a veteran leader. Faceoff, fighting and penalty-killing skills earned him a slight raise at one year, $700,000.

Signed with Columbus RADEK MARTINEK Position: Defenseman Last
(Credit: Jim McIsaac)

Signed with Columbus
RADEK MARTINEK
Position: Defenseman
Last team: Islanders
Age: 34
2010-11 cap hit: $1.5 million
Update: Martinek is a steady defenseman when healthy, which isn't a given for him. In nine seasons with the Isles, he was quiet locker-room presence. The Blue Jackets gave him a very nice, one-year, $2.2-million deal, which pretty much guarantees him a spot on the Columbus' young blueline. He joins former Islander James Wisniewski and former Ranger Fedor Tyutin on the Jackets' defense.

CHRIS DRURY Position: Center Last team: Rangers Age:
(Credit: Jim McIsaac)

CHRIS DRURY
Position: Center
Last team: Rangers
Age: 34
2010-11 cap hit: $7.05 million
With his buyout finalized, the Rangers captain joins the free agent pool. There are only a few teams who'd be interested in his services, especially after he scored just one goal last season while battling injuries. But if his knees are OK, he can still win face-offs, block shots, play on the penalty kill, offer leadership and score in a limited capacity. Former employers Buffalo and Colorado may kick the tires.

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STEVEN STAMKOS Position: Center Last team: Tampa Bay
(Credit: AP)

STEVEN STAMKOS
Position: Center
Last team: Tampa Bay
Age: 21
2010-11 cap hit: $3.725 million
Reports had the Flyers, who traded away their top two centers this summer, trying to clear more cap space so they could sign Stamkos to a mega-offer sheet. But that died down after the Lightning said they'd match any offer for Stamkos (96 goals in the past two seasons). It's a very long shot he'll be anywhere but Tampa.

SHEA WEBER - Restricted free agent Position: Defenseman
(Credit: Wikipedia Commons)

SHEA WEBER - Restricted free agent
Position: Defenseman
Last team: Nashville
Age: 25
2010-11 cap hit: $4.5 million
The Predators have so few stars, there’s no chance he’ll reach the open market.

DREW DOUGHTY - Restricted free agent Position: Defenseman
(Credit: Jim McIsaac)

DREW DOUGHTY - Restricted free agent
Position: Defenseman
Last team: Los Angeles
Age: 21
2010-11 cap hit: $3.475 million
His game slipped slightly this season, but Doughty is part of L.A.’s foundation. The Kings would match any offer sheet tossed Doughty’s way.

ZACH PARISE - Restricted free agent Position: Left
(Credit: Christopher Pasatieri)

ZACH PARISE - Restricted free agent
Position: Left wing
Last team: New Jersey
Age: 26
2010-11 cap hit: $3.125 million
The only possible wild-card among the RFAs, but Parise is arbitration-eligible, so expect a one-year deal if he can’t agree with the Devils on a long-term contract. With the CBA expiring after next season, the Devils will surely find a way to lock up one of their stars for a long while.

RYAN CALLAHAN - Restricted free agent Position: Right
(Credit: Christopher Pasatieri)

RYAN CALLAHAN - Restricted free agent
Position: Right wing
Last team: Rangers
Age: 26
2010-11 cap hit: $2.3 million
The heart and soul of the Rangers, plus he’s not that young in the world of the RFA -- no team is taking a risk to lose multiple first-rounders to add him.

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BRANDON DUBINSKY - Restricted free agent Position: Center
(Credit: Jim McIsaac)

BRANDON DUBINSKY - Restricted free agent
Position: Center
Last team: Rangers
Age: 25
2010-11 cap hit: $1.85 million
See Ryan Callahan for a similar explanation. Both of them will stay put, and expect the numbers to be in the $4 million per year range for 4-5 years.

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