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Autonomous players: Tomas Tatar among those still available

It’s already been almost a week since the NHL free agent market opened. Obviously, the excitement of the opening is now behind us, but there are still a few signings being made.

Pierre-Édouard Bellemare, for example, has just signed with Seattle.

That said, even though a large number of players have found buyers, there are still several more than interesting names on the market. We’ve obviously talked a lot about the cases of Patrick Kane (who could wait several weeks before signing) and Vladimir Tarasenko (who just changed agents), but there are other guys still waiting to sign a contract.

One of them is well-known in Montreal: Tomas Tatar. The Slovak forward is coming off an interesting season with the Devils (20 goals and 48 points in 82 games, +41 differential), and at 31, he seems to have a few more good field hockey years in him.

One wonders if his repeated under-performance in the playoffs is scaring off teams (he picked up just one point in 12 games last spring), but even so, he’s still an interesting guy.

And obviously, there are plenty of experienced forwards on the market: even if you exclude Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci (Boston or retirement for them) and even Zach Parise (same situation, but with the Islanders), guys like Jonathan Toews, Phil Kessel, Eric Staal, Paul Stastny and Derick Brassard are still free as a bird.

Among the older forwards, Oskar Sundqvist, Nick Ritchie and Pius Suter are interesting depth guys. And let’s not forget guys like Denis Gurianov (whose signing was expected earlier), Maxime Comtois, Jesse Puljujärvi and now Filip Zadina, who are interesting projects.

On defense, Matt Dumba is the best player still available, but youngsters Caleb Jones, Ethan Bear and Cal Foote are younger options who could bring depth to a defensive brigade.

And in front of the net, it’s pretty thin: Martin Jones and Jaroslav Halak are the best-known names, but we’re talking about guys who are mostly backup goalkeepers.

In short, we’ll be watching to see if these players sign contracts in the days or weeks to come, but some of them may have to settle for a professional tryout when training camps open.

And apart from a potential return of Gurianov, I don’t see any of them coming to Montreal, although I wouldn’t be against the idea of picking up one of the two young right-handed defensemen in Bear and Foote.

In brief

– Already a year since that great day for Slovak field hockey.

– Have a good listen.

– The National has some great stories in store for us in the MLB. My text on the subject.

– No, it’s not a fake!

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