Jarret Stoll, Alexander Semin among those on the NHL bubble

Jarret Stoll and Alexander Semin are running out of chances, albeit for diffferent reasons. Getty Images

Is there such a thing as a last-chance situation in the National Hockey League, or do we only know about last chances after the fact?

For instance, was last summer's signing of Mike Ribeiro by the Nashville Predators really the troubled center's last chance at employment in the NHL?

It's a moot point when it comes to Ribeiro because after being bought out of his contract by Arizona and signing a one-year deal with the Preds, he responded with a strong 62-point season that this summer earned him a two-year deal worth a total of $7 million.

Are there players like Ribeiro who will find a new lease on hockey life in the coming season?

Or are there players more like Ryan Malone, who earned a tryout with the New York Rangers last fall and then played in only six games before leaving the game?

Here's a look at some players whose careers may be hanging in the balance.

Jarret Stoll

A member of two Stanley Cup-winning teams with the Los Angeles Kings, Stoll saw his production decline from 27 points two seasons ago to just 17 last season, though his points totals are secondary to his strong two-way presence on the ice.

Stoll didn't figure into the Kings' long-range plans as a free agent, though, and now the question is whether Stoll fits into any team's plans after he was discovered with cocaine and other drugs at a Las Vegas resort pool shortly after the regular season ended. Stoll pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges and was sentenced to community service, and while there are teams interested in his skills, at this writing he remains without a contract.

Perhaps he will find a new home before the start of training camp or maybe he will have to earn a roster spot via a training camp tryout, but either way this ranks as a make-or-break season for the 33-year-old.

Mike Richards

Speaking of the Kings, Richards also won two Cups with Los Angeles but is also a man without a team as July turns to August. Trade talks were ongoing as the draft approached, but the Kings backed away from the deals after Richards was involved in an incident at the Canada/U.S. border. The Kings claimed Richards materially breached his contract and then terminated it, and as of now the NHL Players' Association had not appealed the team's decision, which makes Richards an unrestricted free agent.

Will the uncertainty over that incident dissuade teams from taking a chance on Richards? If the NHLPA does file an appeal of the termination (they have 60 days from the day the team announced termination), would that inhibit Richards' ability to find employment elsewhere if he does not return to the Kings? And what of the fact that Richards pledged a year ago to get in better shape but was sent to the minors midway through the season?

Does the 30-year-old former Philadelphia Flyers captain get one more chance to prove he's not done? Would a team like the Edmonton Oilers be interested in Richards as a short-term, low-dollar experiment? However the contract issue shakes out, it's hard to imagine this isn't a turning-point season for the hard-nosed center who was a key part of the Kings' first Cup win in 2012.

Brenden Morrow

If the last we see of Brenden Morrow as an NHL player is skating off the ice on the losing end of the Stanley Cup finals last June with the rest of the disappointed Tampa Bay Lightning players, well, that's not so bad, is it? Problem is, when you get that close to your first Cup at 36 years old, it whets the appetite for one more run at a ring.

Morrow has bounced from the Pittsburgh Penguins to the St. Louis Blues to Tampa in the past three seasons, but right now he's mulling whether 991 regular-season games, plus 118 more in the postseason -- all played with in his hard-nosed style -- are enough. Morrow did not record a point in the Lightning's 24 postseason games this year, playing mostly fourth-line minutes under Jon Cooper, and a similar role with another contender could be the right fit.

Alexander Semin

So much has been written over the years about the immense talent Semin possesses and how he has only revealed that talent for maddeningly short periods, and almost never when it matters most -- in the playoffs. After his contract was bought out by the Carolina Hurricanes this summer, it took a while before the Montreal Canadiens stepped forward with a one-year deal worth $1.1 million.

The Habs needed more help down the middle as opposed to on the wing, but if Semin can produce a 60-point season with 25 to 30 goals -- something eminently within his reach -- the experiment would be considered a wild success and could propel the Canadiens to the top of the Atlantic Division. Of course, Semin and his sometimes laconic attitude toward preparation and two-way hockey could just as easily drive head coach Michel Therrien around the bend. In that case, Semin ends up where he spent much of last season: in the press box. One way or another, this is a pivotal season in the career of the oft-battered Semin.

Viktor Stalberg

Remember when Stalberg was a speedy, skilled big man with 20-goal potential for the Chicago Blackhawks? Yeah, it does seem like a million years ago, even though it was only 2011-12 when the Stockholm native scored 22 times for Chicago. Since then, he has not managed a season with even a double-digit goal total in his time bouncing between the NHL and the Predators' affiliate in the AHL.

Stalberg signed a one-year deal worth $1.1 million with the New York Rangers as the Blueshirts try to plug some holes created by Martin St. Louis' retirement and Carl Hagelin's trade to Anaheim. In short, opportunities are there for Stalberg, 29, to prove that his earlier 20-goal campaign was not a fluke.

Cody Hodgson

No player who just turned 25 is ever anywhere close to last-chance status in the NHL, but the former 10th overall pick of the Vancouver Canucks (2008) certainly has not lived up to his billing as a potential front-line center. Hodgson was eventually dealt to the Buffalo Sabres, who bought out the final four years of a six-year, $25.5 million contract this summer and made Hodgson an unrestricted free agent. He then signed a one-year deal with the Predators worth $1.05 million.

Like with Ribeiro last season, the Predators are hoping a new chance will yield positive results for the Toronto native. And while the team has Ribeiro and Mike Fisher under contract, there's no doubt that the Predators will be looking for more offense from a variety of sources, and Hodgson, who saw his goal totals dip from 20 two seasons ago to just six last season, will get ample opportunity under head coach Peter Laviolette to prove he's not a first-round bust.

Chris Stewart

Once upon a time, Stewart was an 18th overall draft pick and a key part of a blockbuster deal between the Colorado Avalanche, the team that drafted him, and the St. Louis Blues. Since that February 2011 deal, Stewart has failed to stick with the Blues, the Sabres or the Minnesota Wild. At times, he has shown flashes of being a prototypical power forward and of being able to replicate a sophomore season in Colorado that saw him score a career-best 28 goals. But those flashes have become fewer and further between over the years.

After Stewart came to Minnesota at last season's trade deadline and then failed to score in eight postseason games for the Wild, Anaheim took a chance on the 27-year-old and signed him to a one-year deal worth $1.7 million. The Ducks are thinking Stanley Cup, and Stewart will no doubt get a look from Bruce Boudreau in terms of where he might fit into the top nine forwards on the team. Indeed, depending on Patrick Maroon's start to the season, it's not too much of a stretch to imagine he could play some with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf on the team's top line. Like Dany Heatley a year ago, though, Stewart's leash will be a short one, given the team's depth up front.

Ruslan Fedotenko

We have to admit, we figured that last call had been rung for the 36-year-old native of Kiev, Ukraine, who has 863 NHL regular-season games to his credit, scored 12 goals during the Lightning's run to the 2004 Cup, and was a serviceable member of the Pittsburgh Penguins' 2009 Stanley Cup-winning squad. But there was Fedotenko showing up on the news wires this summer, having signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Minnesota Wild. General manager Chuck Fletcher was the assistant GM in Pittsburgh during Fedotenko's two-season tenure with the Pens, and he likely figures that having a guy with Fedotenko's experience isn't a bad thing, whether he plays up with the big club or with the kids in the AHL. Still, it's hard to believe that this won't be the real last call for the affable Fedotenko.