The potential is there for a good crop of UFAs on July 1.
The group on the blue line isn't as strong because there's no Zdeno Chara available, but Florida's Jay Bouwmeester, Montreal's Mike Komisarek and Vancouver's Mattias Ohlund will get attention.
Up front, if Marian Hossa doesn't re-sign in Detroit and Martin Havlat doesn't stay with the Hawks, they're both going to get a lot of attention.
Hossa is studying the possibility of staying with the Wings, while Havlat has been talking about a long-term contract in the Windy City.
Forwards Daniel and Henrik Sedin will be hot commodities if the Canucks don't come to their senses and sign both.
The farther the Blackhawks go in the playoffs, the more the value of goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin will rise.
"You don't have the premier defenceman available this year because there's no Zdeno Chara on the market," said a league executive. "If Havlat and Hossa get there, they're going to have a lot of teams after them."
All eyes will be on Toronto GM Brian Burke. He has $44 million US committed in salaries next season, but the belief is he'll either free up cash with trades or simply bury some players with the AHL's Marlies to make room for the Sedin twins.
"The best team in hockey is the Detroit Red Wings. They get the cap number they want and they recognize the risks involved," said Glenn Healey, the director of player affairs for the NHLPA. "They make their choice because they owe it to their fans to give them their best team."