Top Free Agents
What's for play on the market this offseason?
It's the best time of the year for those shitty GMs who like to build through free agency. It's also the best time of the year to be on the sidelines while you watch all the drama unfold. Who will leave the chat first? Who will claim they are quitting at seasons end?. Fun fact, the BRHL loses it's most GMs during free agency, if you are reading this, will that be you?
Before we get into the article, here is some advice to anyone new to the process, or maybe you just forgot the rules. If one of your players is a UFA, he doesn't belong to you anymore, you can't cry when you lose him.
Don't assume that you have a player locked up when there is only 5 minutes left in his bid. Some GMs can be nasty and prolongue the process, and this is where most of the fights happen. Sometimes a GM has a bid freed up last minute and will outbid you, so expect that to happen as well.
Dont waste time, go big early. History has proven the later in FA you sign players, the worst value there contacts become. You don't want to be paying guys like Brooks Orpik, Jordie Benn and Trevor Daley's over 5 million per season because you wasted too much time on another defensemen.
Now, let's begin..
Top 10 UFA Forwards
Anze Kopitar – He has proven to be one of the most consistent two way players over the course of his career. There is no reason to think that Kopitar, who will be 34 years old next season, cannot continue his great two way production. In fact, it may get better as LA is starting to turn the corner and have some great players coming into their own.
Blake Wheeler – This scumbag continues to play great hockey and is surrounded by a great core in Winnipeg. Wheeler still has a few good seasons left in him and should continue to be a big play maker for Scheifele and/or Connor. No reason to think the 35 year old can’t continue to be productive moving forward.
Nick Bonino – He has always been a good two way player, but every now and then he shows flashes of brilliance. He’s had a few good years in a row now but there are some question marks about his future. He will be 34 years old next year and one has to wonder if he can continue playing the best hockey of his career. Solid ratings should you look into him as a rental, but buyer beware for anything more.
Alex Killorn – Another good, but not great two way player. Killorn has been a model of consistency. You know you are going to get good two way ratings out of him every season. At 32 years old, there is still some gas in the tank. His future may be uncertain in Tampa, and he could potentially find himself in Seattle. That could do wonders for his production and BRHL stock. Should be a good option for both a short or long term contract.
Patrick Kane – Finds himself being a first time UFA in the BRHL. That should be fantastic news for GMs who want a piece of one of the best offensive players throughout his career. While his goal totals went down this year, he was still a very productive members of the Blackhawks. Toews coming back next season should increase his stock a bit. A good long term play here who is sure to get paid.
Logan Couture – Doesn’t get much love around here, always seems to move for a 2nd round pick. Couture is a great two way player and his ratings this year indicate it. He should be a top priority for a lot of teams who are looking for an 80+ SC and DF player. Injuries have to be a concern, but Couture should have some good years ahead of him still.
Steven Stamkos – He may be a shell of his former self, but Stamkos can still do one thing very well, and that’s score. One of the only 90+ Scorers available in free agency, Stamkos is sure to get a lot of interest. He will only be 32 years old next season, so time is still on his side, but injuries have slowed him down. Could be a risky play here long term, but could also pay off in spades if his contract is lower then the likes of Kane, Wheeler and Crosby.
Phil Kessel – The ‘Thrill’ had a bounce back season for the Coyotes. After putting up abmyssal numbers in his first season in Arizona, he scored at a solid pace last season. Phil has been playing some of his best hockey as he hit his early 30s but that got derailed when he moved on from Pittsburgh. At 33 years old, he still has time, but a move from Arizona would help him a lot.
Sidney Crosby – Another 90+ scorer, Crosby has already been talked about as the centerpiece for a lot of teams this year. There is a chance Sumit loses out on him this off-season and we all wonder if he pulls a Rich and cries about leaving the league, or if he bounces back with a strong offer on the many other good free agents out there. We last heard he wants to go back to Ottawa.
Marcus Foligno – Is this the right Foligno?. Well if you guessed Nick, or even Mike, you’d be wrong. The younger Marcus had himself a hell of a season in Minnesota this year. At only 30 years old, he is playing the best hockey of his career. Nearly became only the 2nd 80+ SC and DF player available on the UFA market this year.
Top 10 UFA Defensemen
Brent Burns – It seems the worse the Sharks are, the better Burn’s ratings become. There has to be some correlation there. Clearly the more Burns plays on the PK, it has a negative effect on the team overall. His BRHL ratings are the best of the bunch though, and with Erik Karlsson basically being dead, there is no sign that they will slow down. At 37 years old, there should be a couple more productive seasons ahead.
Jeff Petry – Zombie memes aside, Petry continues to be the heartbeat on the Habs blue line. While Weber gets all the accolades, he wouldn’t be the same player without Petry in the lineup doing a lot of the grunt work. His BRHL ratings are good yet again, but at this point appears to be a poor man’s version of Brent Burns. A good consolation prize.
Tyler Myers – Myers had himself a resurgence type of year in Vancouver and was a fantasy gem, with that said his offensive production will never be what it once was in his early career. Daddy longneck will only be 32 years old next season and should continue to get a good opportunity to eat minutes.
Mark Giordano – Early on this season it looked like Giordano lost a big step in his game, his 2nd half surge has really helped his BRHL ratings. Giordano is not the 74 point defensemen he was 2 seasons ago, but he is still a 0.5 PPG guy who gets a lot of PK time. He will be 38 years old, so anything more then a 2 year contract could be risky.
Alex Edler – His offensive game plummeted this season, Edler was always a BRHL darling rating wise, but is now just one dimension defensemen. You cannot argue with the defensive side of his game. At 36 years old, a longer term contract can be risky, but I can see a guy like Edler playing hockey until his early 40’s if his body holds up.
Zdeno Chara – Another free agency, another opportunity to bid on Chara. The King of 1 year contracts at this point in his career, Chara was yet again a pretty solid option on the blue line. He is a 1 dimensional player at this point, but still very effective on the defensive end of the puck.
Niklas Hjalmarsson – See above, just 6 years younger. Hjalmarsson is a main stay in free agency. Never good enough for a multi year contract, but good enough to be a top PK type defensemen. Maybe this is the year he signs his last BRHL contract.
Duncan Keith – One has to wonder if the rumors are true, at this point in his career, Keith could benefit from a trade to a team like the Seattle Kraken. Not quite the offensive player he once was, he is still an effective defensemen. He is 38 years old though, and his time to hang them up is coming soon, whether he likes it or not.
John Carlson – Carlson has somewhat of an off year, but is young enough to still have a lot of good hockey ahead. He very well could be the only defensemen on this list to receive a 4+ year contract. Should be top priority for any team not looking for a rental this off-season.
Ryan Suter – A common theme here, defensemen who were once great, but are aging quickly. Much like Keith and Giordano, father time is catching up to Suter. He has been surpassed as the go-to guy on the Blue Line in Minnesota now. The possibility of Matt Dumba moving on could be just what Suter needs to be a productive player for another season. A 2 year contract could be the sweet spot for him this off-season.
Top 5 UFA Goaltenders
Philipp Grubauer – While Grubauer won’t be the crème of the crop for goaltenders this off-season, he is a great 2nd place prize. There is a possibility he gets more interest then Fleury simply because of age. He is a goaltender you would want to sign long term.
Marc-Andre Fleury – He should get a pay day this offseason, on a 1 year term. Hard to say how Vegas handles their goaltending next season, but no one wants to be stuck with another Khudobin from last off-season. Some crazy 1 year contract most likely gets the deal done.
Jaroslav Halak – At this point of his career, he is a solid 1B goaltender. He was in the perfect situation in Boston, but with a few young goalies making their way into the NHL, Halak will have to find himself as a 1B somewhere else. There is still a lot of potential for a great value contract here.
Cam Talbot – He’s back, after a few mediocre teams, it took the Minnesota Wild to re-surge this guys career. Bryce’s hard on just got bigger when he found out Talbot was a UFA. Expect a bid from the Aves this off-season.
Petr Mrazek – A very under-rated goaltender who’s ratings this year aren’t the best. Much like Frederik Andersen, anyone putting in a bid of Mrazek would be doing so in order to get a bounce-back year out of him. Unfortunately Nedelkovic may be the man in Carolina now. Could be a risky play unless the salary was decent.
Top Poison Pill Players
Mika Zibanejad – Having a player like Zibanejad on the open market was a risky play by Jesse. Perhaps he has a deal worked out already, but he is the prime poison pill target available this year.
Boone Jenner – One of two potential Winnipeg Jets that could be on the wrong side of a contract offer. Jenner has been pretty consistent throughout his career, but at this point he’s just a very good 3rd liner. I don’t expect too much interest here.
Ryan Johansen – Another Jet without a contract. Johansen may be best served as a long term play. I don’t believe his career is over by any means, but he needs a change of scenery. Perhaps there is some GM out there who will take the chance on that happening.