Ted Kulfan’s top 25 NHL free agents

Ted Kulfan, The Detroit News

Go through the gallery to see Ted Kulfan’s top 25 NHL free agents. (Go here if you have trouble viewing the gallery.)

Remember when future Hall of Famers would be available to sign and hockey fans across North America would spend the first day of free agency glued to their computers in search of news?

Those days are long gone.

Saturday’s start to the free-agent market will have a bunch of useful players ready to be signed by anxious teams — but none are considered franchise changers.

Most are simply complementary pieces.

These days, NHL teams tend to draft, develop — and if they feel the asset is a keeper — sign young players to long-term contracts that usually keep them out of the UFA market in their prime years.

So, what you have these days are older players looking for one more big payday — or good, but not necessarily great, players who still will get paid like great players.

The Red Wings, and the rest of the league, will pick through the list and likely be as prudent as they can be, not wanting to get stuck in long-term, expensive contracts.

There could be bargains to be had.

Players such as defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and forward Alexander Radulov will attract most of the attention and possible big-money contracts, with many other average players capitalizing on the generosity of desperate general managers.

But after that first wave of signings Saturday, there will be players who miss out on the bigger money and will have to settle for short-term deals for significantly less money.

For the salary cap-strapped Red Wings, that’s when they’ll likely begin shopping.