CLOSE

The real star of the expansion draft wasn’t Marc-Andre Fleury or James Neal, it was George McPhee. The general manager’s draft has set Vegas up to be contenders sooner rather than later.
USA TODAY Sports

NHL free agency opens Saturday at noon ET. While teams will look to boost their roster, the free agent crop is lacking in difference-making talent. That means there figures to be a number of questionable signings.

Here are five players teams should be wary of overpaying: 

Winger Patrick Marleau: He is still a very useful player and a durable one. But he will be 38 at the start of the season and shouldn’t get a multi-year deal with the expectation that he will be a top-six forward. The trends he’s exhibiting are common for older players. Marleau finished 106th in points per 60 minutes (1.47) among forwards with at least 1,000 minutes of even-strength ice time and his per-game point production and shot volume have decreased in each of the past three seasons. But he is a reliable 20-plus goal scorer and those are not easy to find.

MORE NHL:

Defenseman Karl Alzner: He is ripe for too many years and dollars. At 28, he is one of the few established free agent defensemen under 30 and has generally been healthy in his career. The problem is in this era of increasing appreciation of mobile defenseman, describing one as “shutdown” often means he is one-dimensional. Alzner’s career high in points is 21, he doesn’t drive possession (46.3% Corsi last season, -7.5% corsi relative) and he is more of an average shot suppressor than plus one. He’s also logged 655 games in his career. These types of players don’t age well.

Defenseman Michael Stone: The 27-year-old is certain to be a beneficiary of a dearth of right-handed defensemen on the market, and one still in perceived growth mode. Some will say Stone has been stuck in a bad situation with the Coyotes for most of his career. Others will say he has been given more opportunities because of said bad situation — and the results have been just OK. The fact is Stone is not a strong defensive player and his possession driving is marginal. General managers will likely be intrigued because of a 36-point 2015-16 campaign. But Stone is best suited in a bottom-pair role.

Winger Thomas Vanek: The wariness for the team that signs Vanek has less to do about…