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Ryan Miller could be top free agent with Alex Steen off market

Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller (left) makes a save on Ottawa Senators forward Clarke MacArthur...

Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller (left) makes a save on Ottawa Senators forward Clarke MacArthur during NHL action at First Niagara Center. (Timothy T. Ludwig/USA TODAY Sports)

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:22 PM ET

Christmas came early for St. Louis Blues forward Alex Steen.

Enjoying a career year with 24 goals — matching his previous season-high — he signed a three-year, $17.4 million extension with the St. Louis Blues the other day, taking him out of the unrestricted free agent mix this summer.

The 29-year-old (30 in March) was shaping up as one of the best of the class (assuming Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dan Boyle will re-sign with the San Jose Sharks, which is the prevailing thought right now).

Which brings us to the rest of the players who are poised to be unrestricted free agents next summer: their Christmas will come in July and in a big way.

As the salary cap era has evolved, teams have been locking up their stars to long-term deals with the effect each summer there have been fewer and fewer elite talents on the market.


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