A Brief Look at Available Free Agents
The NHL’s free agency period begins Tuesday at noon, learn more about who is available.
The NHL’s free agency period begins Tuesday at noon.
Below is a list of some of the big name unrestricted free agents (broken down by position and listed in alphabetical order) that are expected to be available.
The Finnish winger is a shootout specialist and power-play savvy forward who has recorded 414 points in 660 career games in a career that has taken him from Dallas to Tampa to Carolina and, most recently, to Pittsburgh. This season, he was good for 21 goals and 57 points and saw nearly 185 minutes of power-play ice time. In 13 playoff games this spring, Jokinen notched 7 goals and 10 points. Impressively, three of those playoff goals were game winners. Jokinen notched a career high in goals (35) and points (65) in 2009-10 as a member of the Hurricanes.
Typically in the conversation whenever one is discussing the league's pure goal scorers, the 30-year old Moulson has thrice recorded 30 goal campaigns. He scored 28 goals in a nomadic 2013-14 season that saw him suit up for the New York Islanders, Buffalo Sabres and Minnesota Wild. With 141 goals and 275 points in just under 400 career games, Moulson will likely have a few incoming calls from potential suitors when noon rolls around on Tuesday.
Viewed by many as a trade deadline target, Cammalleri stayed put in Calgary for the entire 2013-14 season and when all was said and done he was the team’s leading scorer with 22 goals. It was the sixth 20-goal season for the gifted winger with a quick release. “Cammie” has twice broken the 80-point plateau and has averaged a point per game in 32 career playoff contests. The pending UFA is 32 years old.
A one-time 35-goal scorer, the 29 year old Michalek is a speedy winger who has eclipsed the 20-goal plateau five times. He spent much of the past season on a line with Ottawa center Jason Spezza, and scored 17 goals to go along with 22 assists. Michalek's best season was 2006-07, when he put up 66 regular season points as a member of the San Jose Sharks and also notched 6 points in 11 playoff games that spring.
There is only one left winger available on the market who has scored over 20 goals in nine straight NHL seasons, and his name is Thomas Vanek. The Austrian sniper sent his first eight years with the Sabres before being traded twice this season; first to the Islanders and then, in the waning seconds of deadline day, to the Montreal Canadiens. Vanek, who broke the 40-goal mark in just his second NHL season, seems to always find the right spot on the ice to make himself dangerous and get in position to score. He is coming off a contract with an average annual value of over $7 million.
A 20-game stint with the Ottawa Senators at the end of the season went a long way towards boosting Ales Hemsky’s value on the free agent market. Hemsky tallied 26 points (9-17-26) in 55 games with the Edmonton Oilers before being traded to Ottawa where he was nearly a point-per-game player recording 17 points (4-13-17) in 20 contests. The Czech Republic native has two 20 goal seasons on his resume, with his best season coming in 2008-09 when he registered 66 points (23-43-66) in 72 games.
After five seasons with the Montreal Canadiens (four as captain) it looks like Brian Gionta may test the free agent market. The 35 year-old tallied 40 points in 81 games last season (18-22-40) with the Habs, and reached the 40-point milestone for the seventh time in his career. The 5’7” forward’s best season came in 2005-06 with the New Jersey Devils when he scored 89 points (48-41-89) in 82 games.
Jarome Iginla will celebrate his 37th birthday on July 1, and he may also be celebrating a new contract. Many teams around the league would love to add the prolific scorer who hit the thirty goal mark for the 12th time in his career last season with Boston. With 560 goals and 1,167 points in his 17-year career, Iginla is a pure scorer that will one day have his name bandied about by the Hall of Fame selection committee.
At 27 years of age, Kulemin is one of the younger free agent right wings that will be available on Tuesday. He has a 30-goal season on his resume (2010-11 with Toronto) and represented Russia at the 2014 Olympics, playing on a line with his close friend Evgeni Malkin.
Teams looking for a consistent scoring presence on the wing will likely make Radim Vrbata one of their top targets. The 33 year old has settled in the league as a player who will approach the 20 goal mark on an annual basis. Last season with the Arizona Coyotes, Vrbata recorded 20 goals and 51 points while leading the team in shots with 263. Vrbata is coming off contract that paid him $3 million per year, a price that any team would be more than willing to pay him moving forward.
After a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals, the New York Rangers used a compliance buyout on Brad Richards, making the 34 year old center with a Stanley Cup to his name (Tampa Bay, 2004) an unrestricted free agent. Over the course of his 14 year career, Richards has crossed the 50-point threshold 11 times since making his debut with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2000. Richards tallied 20 goals and 31 assists last season, marking the tenth time he has reached the 20 goal plateau.
A big, two-way center who can kill penalties and has a Stanley Cup winning goal to his name, Bolland will be sought after on Tuesday. Bolland played in 23 games last year with the Toronto Maple Leafs before his season was cut short by injury. His best season came in 2008-09 as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks, when he recorded 47 points (19-28-47) in 81 games.
After 15 seasons with the Nashville Predators, Legwand was sent to the Detroit Red Wings at the 2013-14 trade deadline. He recorded 14 goals and 37 assists in 83 games last year and has posted career highs of 27 goals and 63 points, both in the 2006-07 season with the Predators. A Michigan native with 977 regular season NHL games under his belt, the 33 year old will be a valuable veteran addition to his new club.
With three years remaining on his contract, the Arizona Coyotes used a compliance buyout on Mike Ribeiro, making the 34 year old an unrestricted free agent. With 16 goals and 31 assists last year with the Coyotes, Ribeiro has now recorded at least 45 points in ten straight seasons. His best season came in 2007-08 when he put up 83 points (27-56-83) in 76 games. He traditionally is used often on the power play.
One of the most sought after players on the free agent market, Paul Stastny will likely have his pick of suitors to choose from. The 28 year old has hit the 20 goal plateau in all six of the seasons in which he has played over 50 games. He found the back of the net 25 times last season and his best year came in 2009-10 when he tallied 79 points (20-59-79) in 81 games. The 6’0” center is one of the younger players available on the free agent market and will likely command a deal with significant term length.
A trade deadline deal saw Meszaros go from the Philadelphia Flyers to the Boston Bruins, but aside from the change in scenery, it was another consistent season for the 28 year old. Meszaros recorded 22 points (7-15-22) in 52 games, which is right in line with his production during his nine year NHL career.
Stralman’s offensive numbers do not jump off the page (he recorded 13 points in 81 games this past season with New York and has only reached the 20 point mark once in his career). However, he is expected to be one of the most sought after D-men on Tuesday for his defensive prowess. His impressive possession stats, which include a relative Corsi rating this past year of “+6%”, have made him a favorite son to the analytics community. Logging significant minutes on a team that made it to the Stanley Cup Final shouldn’t hurt his market value either.
A member of Team USA in back to back Olympics, and holder of one Stanley Cup ring (with Pittsburgh), the 6’2” Orpik will receive a long look from teams that value his experience and rugged style of play. A 10-year vet (all with the Penguins), Orpik logged over 1500 minutes of ice time this past season.
Veteran defenders who play solid defense, and can contribute offensively do not grow on trees and when they pop up in free agency, they are a hot commodity. Christian Ehrhoff meets these qualifications and then some. The German blueliner racked up 33 points (6-27-33) in 79 games for the Buffalo Sabres last season and has tallied at least 20 points in nine straight seasons.
It appears that one-time Panther Dan Boyle will test out the free agent market after all. The New York Islanders sent a conditional fifth round pick to the San Jose Sharks for the rights to negotiate with the 37 year old defenseman but no deal could be agreed upon. Boyle has displayed an offensive knack during his career, hitting the 50-point mark five times and the 20-goal plateau once (a rare feat for defensemen).
The 27 year old enjoyed a breakout season last year with the Pittsburgh Penguins, tallying 46 points (10-36-46) in 81 games. His stock rose even more during the playoffs, as he he amassed nine points (2-7-9) in 13 games and frequently helped quarterback the team’s power-play.
The 32 year old is coming off another typically consistent 2013-14 season with the Ducks, in which he put up a record of 29-13-7-5. He finished the year with a 2.48 GAA, five shutouts and a .911 save percentage. In his seven seasons in the NHL, the Swiss netminder has never posted a save percentage lower than .910 or a GAA higher than 2.73.
At 42 years old, Brodeur’s time in a Devils uniform may finally be coming to an end. The Montreal native is the NHL’s all-time wins leader (688) for a reason and he could be a smart addition to a club looking for a legend to split time with and help mentor a young goaltender.
The St. Louis Blues acquired Ryan Miller from the Buffalo Sabres in late February in a blockbuster deal that saw five players change uniforms. Since making his debut in 2002, Miller has been one of the toughest goalies to beat. In 559 regular season games played, Miller has a 2.59 goals against average, 29 shutouts and a .915 save percentage.