NHL teams can still find value on the open market

GEORGE POPALIS, Sports Network

, Last Updated: 1:46 PM ET

TORONTO -- The 2010-11 NHL season is underway and there are still some intriguing free agents available on the market. Here are a few of the top names that are still unsigned, and could potentially find a home in the league as the season wears on.

FORWARDS

Bill Guerin - '09-10 Pittsburgh Penguins (21 G, 45 P, -9)

After the Penguins decided not to sign the 39-year-old winger this past summer, he tried to catch on with the Philadelphia Flyers on a tryout contract. He was released after an unimpressive preseason that ended with a minus-four performance against the Buffalo Sabres. If he decides not to retire, which is always an option at his age, he could help shore up the offense on a cup contender.

Guerin became the only NHL player to score 20 or more goals with seven different teams after last season's performance in Pittsburgh. Those stats don't grow on trees, and considering he attained the feat only a year ago, he may have another productive season left in him. In a limited role, Guerin could still be a productive offensive specialist.

Owen Nolan - '09-10 Minnesota Wild (16 G, 33 P, -12)

The Belfast native has never won a Stanley Cup and has expressed interest in signing with a contender to make that dream a reality. At 38-years-of-age, Nolan's best days are behind him, but his 16 goals from last season show he can still find the net. He's also a big body that could bring a bruising physical style to a team in need of more toughness. The Olympic gold medal winner played with seven teams in his 18-year NHL career, and he'd like to finish with the San Jose Sharks, where he once served as captain.

Nolan has a home in the San Jose area so it would seem like a logical fit, however the Sharks have denied interest in the gritty veteran and have opted to go the route of bringing in younger players. Retirement is a possibility should he not catch on with a team in the coming months.

Jed Ortmeyer - '09-10 San Jose Sharks (8 G, 19 P, +4)

Coming off his best offensive season in the NHL with the Sharks, the 32-year old winger better known for his defensive acumen would be a good pickup for teams in search of depth. The six-year NHL veteran was released by the New York Islanders earlier this month after signing a tryout contract and may still be feeling the effects of double sports hernia surgery.

One thing that has never come into question is his outstanding work ethic. If Ortmeyer can regain his gritty, checking style of play he could catch on as a fourth-line grinder.

Miroslav Satan - '09-10 Boston Bruins (9 G, 14 P, +8)

Satan recently signed a contract with HC Slovan Bratislava of the Slovakian Extraliga, the top league in Slovakia. The 35-year-old inked a weekly contract that includes an NHL-out clause, so he is still on the market for NHL teams that may want him. The two-time all star played 14 seasons in the NHL winning a Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009. With four 30-goal seasons under his belt, Satan would still be a threat around the net if surrounded by the right pieces.

DEFENCEMEN

Marc Andre Bergeron - '09-10 Montreal Canadiens (13 G, 34 P, -7)

Surprisingly, the 29-year-old was not resigned after putting up decent numbers in 60 games with the Habs. His prowess on the power play would have been a great stop-gap until the injured Andrei Markov got his game together.

So why didn't the Canadians resign a guy that put up seven goals and 15 assists on their power-play unit? It probably had something to do with his -12 rating in the playoffs, by far the worst on the team. He's a liability in his own zone end and Montreal GM Pierre Gauthier is going with a more defensive-minded approach this season. Still, He's enough of a special teams threat that he should find his way on to a team as a power-play specialist before season's end.

Mathieu Schneider - '09-10 Phoenix Coyotes (2 G, 9 P +5)

The potential Hall of Famer is getting pretty long in the tooth. At 41-years- old he would have to prove he has the ability to take a regular shift in the NHL before being considered as a defensive add-on. With a career +66 rating, he could be a token signing for a developing team that wants a veteran player of his ilk to tutor their young defense corps. But barring a situation of that nature, the question may be 'when' and not 'if' he might retire.

Shane Hnidy - '09-10 Minnesota Wild (2 G, 14 P, -6)

During his tryout contract with the Phoenix Coyotes, Hnidy suffered a significant shoulder injury that will require surgery. A nine-year NHL veteran, Hnidy would still be useful as a bottom pairing or depth defender if he can make a full recovery. He will likely remain an unrestricted free agent until he can prove he is healthy enough to bring the physical edge he's accustomed to.

Kim Johnsson - '09-10 Chicago Blackhawks (7 G, 17 P, +10)

Johnsson missed the Blackhawks' Cup run because of a potentially career-ending concussion, but could become the best available defenseman if he can regain his health. With 284 points in 739 games and a career plus-minus rating of +27, the 10-year veteran would be a great asset on almost any NHL team looking for help on the back end.

GOALIES

Ray Emery - '09-10 Philadelphia Flyers (16-11-1, 2.64 GAA, .905 SV %)

The Flyers had big hopes for their new acquisition between the pipes going into last season and Emery was on his way to proving he was the man before a nasty hip injury surfaced. A diagnosis of avascular necrosis cut his season short after only 29 games. Surgery was performed to stop the disease that causes bone deterioration, but there is still no clear timetable for his return to the ice. Latest reports have Emery still at least month away from skating, but if he could make a miraculous recovery, his raw skill is undeniable. There would surely be interest in the 28-year-old netminder.


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