Monday, June 29, 2015

Top 10 NHL UFA's

When the National Hockey League free-agent doors swing open July 1, buyers won’t see stocked shelves with high-end items.
There will be some intriguing names, however, who could fill gaps on NHL rosters.
Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli will scrutinizing the free agents, especially in the defenceman category, even after adding Eric Gryba and Griffin Reinhart to the team in trades at the draft.
Here’s a look at 10 free agents on the market:
1. Mike Green, Washington Capitals
He made $6.08 million last year and was Washington’s No. 5 defenceman. The Caps would bring him back for about half that price, but Green, 29, is moving on. The Detroit Red Wings will make the biggest push because he could play with Niklas Kronwall and they sorely need a power play guy.
2. Justin Williams, Los Angeles Kings
He’s 33, but he has three Stanley Cup rings. He also won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2014, but the Kings can’t squeeze him into their salary cap. The Pittsburgh Penguins seem the most logical destination. They need a winger for Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, and general manager Jim Rutherford worked with Williams in Carolina.
3. Joel Ward, Washington Capitals
The 34-year-old winger had a terrific playoffs for the Caps with nine points in 14 games and is a bull in the corner He wants a three-year contract and the Caps are only offering two. They have to sign younger forwards Evgeny Kuznetsov and Marcus Johansson. A team like Montreal, with small forwards, would be ideal for Ward.
4. Francois Beauchemin, Anaheim Ducks
The defenceman is a steady influence in Anaheim as No. 4 guy but the Ducks only want him if he’ll take a one-year deal. They have Clayton Stoner who could take his spot and they may want to give young Josh Manson a spot in their top six. Beauchemin would look good in Edmonton as a mentor for Oscar Klefbom, Justin Schultz and Darnell Nurse.
5. Antoine Vermette, Chicago Blackhawks
After a lukewarm start with the Hawks after his trade from Arizona, the 32-year-old had three playoff game-winners in a third-line role. He’s a No. 2 centre almost anywhere else and an excellent faceoff guy. Somebody will give him $5 million or more.
6. Cody Franson, Nashville Predators
Youngest of the free agent defencemen, Franson often leaves you wanting more. He’s a second-pairing D, not a first, but he has a big shot and he’s a rightie — something everybody’s looking for. Would the Oilers go five years for him at $5 million? Maybe, because of his age and power play possibility.
7. Karri Ramo, Calgary Flames
Makes highlight reel saves, but scouts feel he may not be as technically sound or consistent as other goalies. On the other hand, he’s a battler and had strong games for the Flames down the stretch last season. The San Jose Sharks are still looking for goalie, and the Philadelphia Flyers need a backup for Steve Mason.
8. Matt Beleskey, Anaheim Ducks
The 27-year-old left-winger is coming off 22 goals. Is that the tip of the iceberg for the versatile forward or a one-off? Bryan Bickell got four years at $16 million after a big playoff for Chicago and they regretted it.
9. Michael Frolik, Winnipeg Jets
He had 41 points for the Jets (19 goals) and his speed, along with his ability to move up and down the lineup, is a hot commodity. But, is he worth $4 million a year as a role player? That might be a stretch, although he’s only 27.
10. Jarret Stoll, Los Angeles Kings
Even before his drug arrest after the season, Stoll, 33, was in tough to return to the Kings because of salary cap problems. He’s dynamite on faceoffs and he’s right-handed, something every team’s looking for. He is a solid third line NHL centre.

(Edmonton Journal)

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