Four intriguing players who become unrestricted free agents because they did not receive qualifying offers



4. Jordan Schroeder

Drafted 22nd overall in 2009, Schroeder was considered one of the most dynamic offensive players in that draft class and was highly coveted in fantasy hockey. When he ended his college career just one year later to turn pro, poolies were tripping over themselves to acquire him. Four years later, any fantasy owner can have him. And now, any NHL team can too. Schroeder has had a tough time staying healthy, and his numbers as a pro haven't come near what they were in the NCAA. A fresh start and, most importantly, injury-free for a full season, could work wonders. Let's not forget - the guy is just 23 years old.


3. Michael Del Zotto  

This guy is on every fantasy owner's radar right now, to some extent. Because he was actually thriving in the NHL and on track to be one of the best hitter/producer defensemen in the game before crashing and burning. Did MDZ really peak at the ripe old age of, um, 22? Another Cam Barker? Where he goes is key. His agent needs to identify the three or four best fits for Del Zotto to salvage his career, and then offer him up for an affordable salary. The Penguins would be ideal because both Olli Maatta and Derick Pouliot are out until December recovering from surgery. It would give Del Zotto over two months to get back on track on a team with a lot of offensive weapons. But a rebuilding team that is thin on defense would also be a good fit. He's hanging by his fingernails - and truly has to get this right.


2. Cory Conacher

When Conacher was traded to the Senators, it was quickly apparent that he wasn't a fit. His ice time each game, when plotted on a graph, looked like a ski slope. Moving to the Sabres didn't help, as he just didn't seem to be a Ted Nolan guy. In each case, his production had fallen off sharply from what it was with Tampa Bay and Syracuse (AHL). He's stands 5-8, so he's not going to have the red carpet rolled out for him. He not only has to earn it, but he has to get lucky.


1. Mathieu Perreault

Technically, he may not become a UFA. This is because the Ducks still gave him an offer. Just not one that qualifies him as a restricted free agent. Why $1.1 million (what the Q.O. needed to be) was too rich for the Ducks blood, well that's beyond me. But Perreault is a player who makes things happen. Granted, he scores in bunches, but he hasn't been given the steady linemates and ice time to work through that stuff. Most teams would be happy to have this guy as a third-line center because he still has some scoring line upside and he's responsible in his own zone.

The key trait that links the three forwards above? Size. All three are considered undersized.

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