Rumblings: Feelers out for Soderberg, Niemi, Skinner

Carl Soderberg is up for grabs in this year's free-agent market. Brace Hemmelgarn/USA TODAY Sports

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Thursday kicked off the opening of the six-day window when pending unrestricted free agents can talk to other teams and, of course, vice versa.

One name that’s under the radar, but shouldn’t be, is 29-year-old Swedish center Carl Soderberg.

In what is otherwise a fairly mediocre UFA July 1 crop, at least by the standards of past years, Soderberg could be one of the top catches. He is a versatile, two-way player whose 44 points (13 goals, 31 assists) tied for third in Boston Bruins scoring this past season.

The cap-strung Bruins couldn't come close to matching the kind of money he will make on the open market and traded his rights to the Avalanche on Thursday for a sixth-round pick.

As many as seven or eight teams are believed to be interested in him and can now talk to him officially. Word is that Soderberg's camp is looking for $5 million per year. He may not get that, but there’s no harm in trying.

Speaking of UFAs

Isn't it funny, with all the talk of goalie trades this week, that there's a pending unrestricted free agent sitting there with four 30-plus-win seasons and a Stanley Cup under his belt?

OK, so Antti Niemi is coming off a subpar season, but the San Jose Sharks just weren’t that good.

It'll be interesting to see which teams reach out to the 31-year-old goaltender.

"I have to think he’s going to be one of the most sought-after goalies on the market," his agent, Markus Lehto, told ESPN.com.

Lehto expects to hear from other teams now that the free-agent interview window has opened, but Niemi hasn’t slammed the door shut on San Jose.

"It’s still wide-open," said Lehto. "We haven’t closed the door there."

Skinner is available

I tweeted Wednesday that the Carolina Hurricanes have talked to teams this week and let them know that winger Jeff Skinner is available.

The talented and speedy forward, with a history of head injuries, is an intriguing name. If he can stay healthy, he’s a dynamic force. But can he?

He also has four more years left on a contract that pays him $6 million per season and carries a $5.725 million cap hit.

Skinner doesn’t have a no-trade clause currently active in his deal; it kicks in a few years from now. So Carolina is free to move him wherever there’s a deal to be had.