Top 5 best/worst NHL free-agent deals 

July, 9, 2010
07/09/10
10:26
AM ET

Believe it or not, this is our sixth class of free agents since the lockout ended in July 2005. It doesn't seem that long, does it? In that time, GMs have thrown around some big bucks searching for the player, or players, who might put them over the top. Or, in some cases, club execs were looking for an extra skater or two to get them above the salary cap floor.

When I look back, more often than not, the teams didn't find the solutions they were hoping for on the open market. It seems like it was more bust than boom. As I prepare for a little down time, I thought I'd leave you with my top five best and worst free-agent signings in the post-lockout era.

TOP 5 BEST FREE-AGENT SIGNINGS

1. Scott Niedermayer, Anaheim Ducks (2005)
The addition of the game's ultimate winner brought immediate credibility to Anaheim. In just two seasons, he helped the Ducks to their first Stanley Cup. The New Jersey Devils haven't been the same since he bolted to the West Coast. The Ducks won't be able to replace him, either.

E.J. Hradek

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
E.J. Hradek is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, joining the staff prior to its launch in 1998. He began covering hockey as a writer/editor for Hockey Illustrated in 1989.

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