Five free-agent signings with potential for big payoffs:
Mike Ribeiro, Phoenix Coyotes, four years, $22 million: The shifty center was 12th in NHL scoring last season with 49 points (13-36) in 48 games, and he brings exactly what the Coyotes need. The club was 21st in goals per game last season and 25th on the power play; Ribeiro will inject some offensive creativity into a lineup that knows how to keep the puck out but needed more help in creating offense. He's a perfect fit.
Rob Scuderi, Pittsburgh Penguins, four years, $13.5 million: The Penguins' blue line just was never quite the same ever since Scuderi left Pittsburgh after the team's 2009 Stanley Cup triumph and signed in L.A. Highlighted by that four-game sweep at the hands of the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference finals, tightening up on the back end had to be a priority for GM Ray Shero, and he struck gold by bringing back dependable playoff warrior Scuderi.
Viktor Stalberg, Nashville Predators, four years, $12 million: This might be pushing it, but it's just a gut feeling that Stalberg, who often found the Chateau Bow Wow with Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, will find his stride in the Music City. It's a team that needed to find more offense, and this guy has natural offensive talent that's ready to come out with the proper role. He has found it in Nashville.
Stephen Weiss, Detroit Red Wings, five years, $24.5 million: Weiss replaces Valtteri Filppula (now with the Tampa Bay Lightning) as the team's No. 2 center, and he's an upgrade in that regard, a player who can bring a little more offense and more size in that role. This should be a great fit for the Wings.
Derek Roy, St. Louis Blues, one year, $4 million: Just four years ago, Roy was among the who's who invited to Canada's Olympic summer camp. It has all gone south since then, injuries and inconsistency lowering his profile. But he's primed for a bounce-back season, and, surrounded by great talent in St. Louis, he will do just that.