Tomas Vokoun has rejected a contract offer from the Florida Panthers and will almost certainly head to free agency Friday afternoon. But that doesn't necessarily mean Vokoun, 34, won't return to the Panthers; he is just going to explore all of his options.
It's hard to blame Vokoun, who is by far the most attractive free-agent goaltending option likely to be available when the market opens at noon ET on Friday.
Although he has little playoff experience (he has played in just 11 NHL postseason games), Vokoun has proven to be a workhorse, playing 60 games or more five times in his career. He played in 57 games this past season and turned in a sparkling .922 save percentage.
If GM Dale Tallon cannot come up with a dollar figure and term that interests Vokoun, it's hard to believe the Colorado Avalanche won't be knocking on Vokoun's door.
It's also hard to imagine the Phoenix Coyotes, still under the control of the NHL, would have enough financial wherewithal to lure Vokoun, especially with the uncertainty surrounding the team's future in the desert.
And is there another team that could shift gears and take a run at Vokoun. We have long wondered whether Vokoun would be a good fit in Washington even though the Caps are stocked with good young goaltending talent in Michal Neuvirth, Braden Holtby and possibly Semyon Varlamov pending his apparent interest in jumping to the KHL.
Stranger things have happened on July 1.
No word on whether the ageless Teemu Selanne will return to the NHL for another go-round as he approaches his 41st birthday Sunday. The effervescent winger had his left knee scoped in Finland this week, but the sense is it was more exploratory than anything else and the procedure isn't expected to impact Selanne's decision unless it reveals some sort of significant injury.
That said, don't look for Selanne to be making his decision until later in the summer.
Ultimately, The Finnish Flash must decide whether he wants to prepare for another NHL season and is prepared for the inevitable ups and downs of an 82-game grind (he has endured significant injuries in recent seasons). His production hasn't slipped; he scored 31 goals in 73 games this past season on the heels of back-to-back 27-goal campaigns.
Let's be honest, after Brad Richards it's a long, long drop to the next level of free-agent centers available Friday.
But one of the interesting names to consider is former Nashville pivot Marcel Goc, who wasn't able to come to a new agreement with the Predators in advance of free agency. On the plus side, Goc was the team's top center for much of last season and played a top two-way game even if he produced just nine goals and 24 points in 51 games.
And therein lies the problem for Goc: durability. He suffered a shoulder injury that required surgery and ended his season prematurely in 2010-11. In three of the past four seasons, he's played fewer than 60 games.
He is still a skilled player that could blossom in the right situation. And given the paucity of centers available, the right situation could be just about anywhere.