NHL Free Agents 2013: Best Players Available for Lockout-Shortened Season

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 6, 2013

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 20:  Pavel Kubina #13 of the Philadelphia Flyers skates against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on April 20, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

With the NHL lockout apparently over and the salary cap set, teams can now return to signing free agents.

Almost all of the top targets have already found new homes, signing new deals during the summer, before the lockout went into effect.

With the new proposed Collective Bargaining Agreement, the salary cap will be set around $64.3 million (per Yahoo! Sports). That's the same amount as the cap last year.

Owners were pushing for a $60 million cap, but the new cap allows a little more wiggle room for teams to improve as they see fit.

Here are three of the best free agents still available.


Pavel Kubina, D

The interest in defenseman Pavel Kubina was lukewarm during the period before the lockout. As a result, he signed with HC Vitkovice of the Czech Extraliga, with whom Kubina started his career. He also played for them during the lockout in 2004-05

Kubina spent the 2011-12 NHL season with the Philadelphia Flyers and Tampa Bay Lightning, playing 52 games in Tampa and 17 in Philadelphia.

He isn't the kind of attacking threat anymore that he was in years past, but the 35-year-old Kubina has a lot left in the tank. Kubina can add vital depth for a team that is a little thin when it comes to defense.


Brian Rolston, LW

Much like Kubina, Brian Rolston is an experienced veteran who could provide some depth if necessary. The 39-year-old left-winger has scored 342 goals and notched 761 points over his 17-year career.

During the 2011-12 season, Rolston scored only seven goals while adding another 17 assists. His play with the New York Islanders was particularly poor, but it picked up after he moved back to the Boston Bruins, where he had previously spent almost five seasons.

He is an ideal fit for a team that has a short-term hole at the offensive end of the ice.


Kristian Huselius, LW

It's been a couple years to forget for Kristian Huselius. While a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Huselius tore a pectoral muscle. The winger claims the Blue Jackets rushed him back (via USA Today).

He ended up playing about half the season.

Then after playing only two games for during the 2011-12 season, Huselius pulled a groin muscle. It was an injury that shouldn't have kept him out very long, but it cost him the rest of the season.

According to the player, he was slow to recover because of the fact the team rushed him back to the ice.

Huselius should be healthy now. If he can get back to his best, a team could be getting a player who could add 15-20 goals and 30-40 assists.