The offseason is always an exciting time in the NHL. Teams looking to rebuild after a disappointing year and those looking to strengthen their already deep rosters greet free agency with glee.

Here, Andrew Roland takes a look at five of the best free agent signings in the NHL so far this season and how these players will contribute to their new teams...

Vincent Lecavalier - Centre: Philadelphia Flyers 

Lecavalier was the cornerstone player of a successful Tampa Bay franchise for 14 years, leading the Lightning to their sole Stanley Cup triumph in 2004, but that didn't stop the organisation buying out Vinnie's contract and sending him into the free agents pool.

It's not often a player of the calibre of Lecavalier is available and as many as 10 clubs vied for the former Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy winner, but it was the Flyer's that convinced the former Lightning captain to sign for them.

Vinnie will be expected to fill the role of second line centre for the Flyers but will add more than goals and assists to the Flyers this season. 

Lecavalier will add a huge amount of experience to a relatively young group the Flyers currently possess in the forwards. The Centre's leadership skills will also be vital to a Philadelphia team looking to bounce back from missing the playoffs last time out.

Nathan Horton - Right Wing: Columbus Blue Jackets

After a couple of solid seasons on a hugely successful Bruins team Nathan Horton, after 19 points and a league best plus-20 rating in 22 Stanley Cup Playoff games, decided it was time for a change. 

On the day of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Horton's representatives confirmed that he had informed Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli that he would not be re-signing with Boston.

That meant that Horton was available for any team to sign and it was the Columbus Blue Jackets who acted quickest and signed the power forward to a seven-year $37.1 million contract.

Horton figures to be an important piece in the Blue Jackets rebuild which, after just missing out on an appearance in last season's Stanley Cup Playoffs, seems to be bearing some fruit.

The Blue Jackets hope the big right wing will offer a similar presence on the ice as former Columbus hero Rick Nash and will add a goal scoring threat, offensive skill and a physical edge to a team hoping to break into the elite this coming season.

Daniel Alfredsson - Right-Wing: Detroit Red Wings

Alfredsson had spent his whole 18-year NHL career with the Ottawa Senators and spent the last 14 of those as the club's captain and leader, but the veteran of 1,178 games decided he wanted a change of scenery in 2013/14 and signed with the Detroit Red Wings.

Joining his countrymen Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson, and despite being 40-years-old, the Swede will probably take up a place on one of the Red Wings two top forward lines and will offer skill, experience and leadership in abundance.

Alfredsson has swapped an up and coming team in the Senators for a team full of talented veterans like Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterburg, perhaps signalling this as a last hurrah in an attempt to claim that elusive Stanley Cup title.

Jaromir Jagr - Right-Wing: New Jersey Devils

After the devastating news that Ilya Kovalchuk was retiring from the NHL ages just 30 and after 830 points in 830 games the Devils were in desperate need of a big name signing to remind the hockey world that they are still a major player.

That signing was Jaromir Jagr, after four years away the future hall of famer returned to the NHL in 2011/12 with the Flyers and proved he still has what it takes to make an impact. 

Subsequent stints at the Dallas Stars and Boston Bruins have also proved successful for the 41-year-old Czech.

Jagr is the only player to play in the Stanley Cup Finals as both a teenager and a 40-plus year old; the Devils hope Jagr's skill and proven track record of success will help their team rebound from a season where they missed the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Mike Ribeiro - Centre: Phoenix Coyotes

Coming off the back of a season as second highest scorer, with 49 points in 48 games, on a Washington Capitals team that won the Southeast Division, and as one of the two best centre's available during free agency interest in Ribeiro figured to be high.

After much deliberation Riberio decided to sign with the Phoenix Coyotes in order to link up with former coach Dave Tippet again. 

Announcing the signing Coyotes general manager Don Maloney said: "Mike is an elite playmaker who has exceptional vision and creativity on the ice. He has tremendous offensive skills with great patience with the puck."

Hopes are obviously high for the talented 33-year-old. Riberio will add creativity to a rugged Phoenix roster and will get the chance to prove himself with plenty of minutes, probably centring the Coyotes top line. 

 

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Topics:
NHL
NHL Playoffs
NHL Draft
Stanley Cup