Bob Murray has been pretty inactive this free agency period, and that's understandable. A few marginal players have inked some pretty ridiculous deals. (Tim Connolly and James Wisniewski come to mind.) Despite Murray only signing an AHL player and swapping disappointing D, props to him for saving half a mil in cash. All is not lost. There's still reason for Ducks fans to be optimistic. Normally, Murray's bargain hunting is a nuisance, since you usually get what you pay for. This off-season, there are a few guys who trying to repair bad reps, or are simply flying under the radar. If Murray goes after some of these players, Ducks fans might still be able to get their hopes up for next season.
The Ducks need to upgrade their bottom 6, but how should they do it? I've been an advocate for acquiring more gritty 2-way and defensive forwards. Still, the Ducks might consider scoring upgrades in order to ice a true third scoring line and pressure Jason Blake from below. This is a list of players who might fit either role.
Zenon Konopka: Say what you want about the penalties, the guy can win faceoffs. With Todd Marchant leaving, the Ducks desperately need another 4th line center. They've let Chipchura walk, so Konopka should be a no brainer.
Rob Niedermayer: Would Niedermayer be willing to come back to the place where he and his brother hoisted the Cup? Maybe not after we unceremoniously ditched a guy who might be one of the key reasons we won the Cup in the first place. He's only 35 and he played well for Buffalo last year. The other Niedermayer still has something in those legs.
Alexander Frolov: He's one of the most intriguing options. He failed in his one year bid to get a better contract and can't command the 3 million dollar salary he received last year. But he might see a Ducks team that is very weak on the left side and wonder about opportunities for advancement. If he plays over 70 games, he's probably worth close to 50 points. If he plays 70 games with Saku and Teemu, I'd almost guarantee 50 points. A contract with bonuses for GP and Points might convince him to take the smaller salary. It could be a very wise gamble.
Sergie Samsonov. He's pretty much the same as Frolov; a player trying to convince everyone he can still play. He played well for Florida at the end of the season, picking up 14 points in 20 games. He's another LW, who might be able to come on the cheap and provide the Ducks with a little offensive depth
Ryan Carter: What if the prodigal son was someone that nobody cared about? Then he'd be Ryan Carter. I still think Carter is a pretty responsible centerman, and, given a consistent amount of ice time, has a lot to offer a team like the Ducks. He could be a Steve Rucchin for guys like DSP and Etem, or center the 4th line. Not as gritty as others, he's still a good option up the middle at a good age.
Jamie Langenbrunner: He's played with Koivu and Selanne on the Finnish national team, sometimes on the same line. He brings valuable veteran leadership, and still has a few goals left in him. He's not really a defensive upgrade, and not really an offensive upgrade. He's just a really good hockey player. You can always find a job for good hockey players.
Defense: I know the acquisition of Foster is supposed to have settled our top 6, but Murray has never been one to shy away from having eight-too-many defensemen. There are still good ones available for the taking in case he wants to give Foster some competition. Most likely, Brookbank is stuck as the 7th man on D.
Shane O'Brien: The acquisition of Shane would give up much needed muscle on the back end. He WILL clear the net. Penalties are a concern, but Carlyle's system is pretty easy on the blue liners. I've wanted him to come back for two years now, and am still convinced that he's a great bottom pair option for the Ducks
Scott Hannan: He's a prime aged defender who is known for physical play. He did well in Washington and the only reason I can think that he's still available is that he wants too much money. He'll soon give up on that and that's when Murray will finally be interested.
Ruslan Salei: 10 points and an even rating is pretty good for a stay at home guy that costs less than a million per season. Is he the old Salei? Of course not. Is he still an NHL caliber defenseman? Definitely. Not a bad option for a team that's till unsure of who is going to be the final guy on the back end.
These are some options for all of you to mull over. I tried to not include players who might be too expensive or just probably wouldn't come here, like Tomas Kaberle. It's much more likely the Ducks will have to explore upgrades via trade, and that market only recently went open for business. Murray will make a move soon; let's all just focus on hoping it's a good one.