With the draft and free agency quickly approaching, trade season has already begun and moves have started to be made. A few players, Matt Cooke included, have been bought out of their contract as teams struggle to keep under the salary cap of $71M. The Wild have roughly $12M available and have pending free agents they'd like to sign in Devan Dubnyk, Mikael Granlund, Erik Haula and Christian Folin. Considering Chuck Fletcher always leaves a couple of million dollars for in-season opportunities, and all 4 of those guys have to be signed for $10M or less.
We are going to take a close look at the top free agents at each position to give an overview of what else may be available in free agency when the market opens on July 1. Some of these names could come off the board if they re-sign with their current team. Today we are going to look at the Wild's pending Unrestricted Free Agents and what their futures look like as well as covering the market for available forwards. We'll take a look at Defense and Goalies tomorrow. We have also included a list of NHL UFAs for your reference.
Minnesota Wild UFAs
1. Devan Dubnyk
In case you completely missed last season, this guy saved the Wild's season and got them into the playoffs with his outstanding play. He's a great fit for the Wild's system and wants to return, but very well could have earned himself a contract that moves him out of Minnesota. Rumors are that he is seeking $5M per year, which would leave the Wild with less than $5M to re-sign Mikael Granlund, Christian Folin, and Erik Haula. If it happens, look for this deal to get done in the range of 3 yr/ $15M to 4 yr/$16M.
2. Chris Stewart
Chris Stewart brought some size and grit to the Wild's first line after his arrival. His skills as a power forward matched up well with Mikko Koivu and Jason Zucker and solidified the top 6. The Wild would do well to find someone like Stewart to continue this trend (Charlie Coyle?), but it likely won't be Stewart, whose due raise isn't likely to fit with the Wild's cap constraints. Stewart also completely disappeared in the post season, and missed the last few games with a separated shoulder.
3. Sean Bergenheim
Added at the trade deadline to help a mounting injury situation, Bergie never really found his fit on this team. He had just a couple of flashes of what the Wild expected when they acquired him, but didn't settle in and ultimately spent a lot of time in the press box. Bergenheim should find a job next year, it just won't be in Minnesota.
4. Kyle Brodziak
The third-longest tenured member of the Wild completed his second consecutive 3-year contract with Minnesota. His offensive production has fallen off over the last couple years, but he filled the role of 4th liner perfectly, and added elite PK numbers. #21 most likely will not return, but could if some salary is moved off the books and he is willing to take a substantial pay cut, as the coaching staff loves his ability to play the system.
5. Ryan Carter
Carter began his Wild career with a flourish, potting a couple goals early in the season. He was solid throughout the year but was another odd man out as the Wild had an abundance of forwards down the stretch. A prototypical 4th line grinder with offensive upside, he could be another victim of the cap, but the Wild could also find a way to bring him back inexpensively. The emergence of Jordan Schroeder may prohibit this, however.
6. Jordan Leopold
Ravaged by the mumps, injuries and suspensions throughout the season, the Wild's defensive depth was exposed. Leo was picked up at the deadline to add a little veteran presence to the 3rd pair, and he played well, never relinquishing the role to Nate Prosser when he returned from injury. He's #OneOfUs and has a bond with Matt Dumba. It would be wise of the Wild to find a way to bring him back on an inexpensive deal for one final year before he retires.
7. Keith Ballard
The State of Hockey collectively cringed as we saw a Matt Martin hit likely end Ballard's career. Already dealing with a history of concussions, Ballard suffered another one plus several facial fractures and still hasn't recovered to the point he can take the ice on consecutive days. It's a terrible way to go out, but Ballard is likely to retire.
8. Nate Prosser
Prosser returned to the Wild after being cut by the Blues in the preseason. He was supposed to be the 7th defenseman, but got more than his share of time due to injury and illness. He likely set a record for Time on Glass/60 as the term #Prossered trended each time Prosser was demolished behind his own net. This also cost him several games down the stretch as one of those hits ended with a groin injury. Though he is #OneOfUs and knows the system, there is likely a better option than bringing back Prosser.
9. Josh Harding
A second sad story of a career ending, Harding is expected to retire this offseason as his battle against Multiple Sclerosis carries on. He hasn't been able get into serious game time over the last two years, and his contract has come to an end.
NHL UFAs by Position
1. Shawn Horcoff
Horcoff is a cagey veteran, but at 36 is reaching his twilight years in the NHL. He put up 29 points for Dallas last year and is a solid all-aroud player. However, at this age his biggest value is likely his leadership and ability to mentor younger players.
2. Mike Fisher
Fisher is coming off an injury-shortened season, posting 39 points in 59 games. He also missed 3 games in the opening round of the playoffs against the Blackhawks. Fisher has never been a explosive offensively, but is a solid 2-way center. Nashville listed re-signing Fisher as their top priority of the off-season, and at 34 he is likely due one last big payday, which he will likely find returning to Nashville.
3. Daniel Briere
There is speculation that the 17 year vet and his 696 points and 53 career playoff goals will retire. He finished the season with a foot injury after having a rough go in his only season with Colorado, posting just 13 points in 57 games. At 37, with his numbers in decline, it will be tough for him to find a new job.
4. Antoine Vermette
Following a strange Stanley Cup run in which he was scratched for a few games but returned and scored 3 game winners, Vermette may have earned himself a nice payday, but will likely be overpaid due to his heroics in the playoffs. He struggled to transition to a new role in Chicago, no longer being 1C and his game suffered. He has always been known for showing up in big moments though. At 32, he will likely hit the open market and find a (likely overvalued) payday.
5. Matt Cullen
Having just finished his 17th year in the league, Cullen said that if he plays, he wants to be close to his Minnesota home and would consider "a few" teams to play on. Cullen is a versatile player who still skates well at 38 and has generally scored between 30 and 50 points per year. He could be useful for a team looking for a bottom-6 forward role, but would have to take a major paycut from the $4M he earned in Nashville last year.
6. Jarret Stoll
Stoll is a bottom-6 grinder who was infamously busted with cocaine and MDMA entering a Las Vegas casino following the Kings non-playoff season. He won't be brought back to LA, but is just 32 and could catch on with another team, who would benefit from his salary requirements falling due to his trouble with the law.
7. Rich Peverley
Peverley has not played a game since he collapsed on the Dallas bench in March of 2014, delaying the game as both the team and fans were stunned. His future is likely in coaching.
8. Jiri Tlusty
Tlusty is an up-and-coming forward, and at 27, one of the youngest players in this list. He is versatile, having played mostly Left Wing following his trade to Winnipeg. His ceiling isn't likely that high, projecting to be a 40 point per year type of player, which is disappointing for a former first-round pick known as a sniper.
9. Kyle Brodziak
Brodziak is a grinder and defensive specialist. He has shown offensive upside in the past, but that has waned over the last few seasons as he has settled into a shutdown PK role. Just 31, Brodziak would be a good fit for a team looking for a veteran presence in their bottom-6 that can stabilize the PK while mentoring youth and winning a few faceoffs.
10. Olli Jonkinen
Jokinen is an NHL journeyman who began his career 16 years ago under the wing of a guy by the name of Gretzky. He has shown huge offensive upside, scoring as many as 91 points in a season. Unfortunately, that was almost 10 years ago an more recent years have not been as kind. At age 36, Jokinen should be able to carry on his career with a couple of 1 year deals with teams seeking veteran talent at a reasonable rate.
11. Brad Richards
Richards was was signed to shore up Chicago's second line, and reviews were positive. He didn't post a ton of points with 37 on the year, but proved to be an effective 2C, while also playing well in the playoffs. He is known as a two-way center and should have a line of suitors this summer, including incumbent Chicago. This is a solid player that still has a lot to offer at age 35.
1. Martin St. Louis
St. Louis turned 40 on June 18th but the man is ageless on the ice. In first full season with the Blue Shirts, Marty scored 21 goals and contributed 31 helpers for 52 points. St. Louis managed only one goal and seven assists in his 19 game playoff run with the Rangers but if MSL decides to play another year he will have plenty of suitors. He is still a bonafide top-6 wing and is as dynamic as ever come game-time.
2. Justin Williams
Williams will be highly sought after by contenders if he reaches free agency. He is clutch, 25 points in 26 games during LA's 2013-14 Cup run, and consistently checks in around the 20 goal mark during the regular season. Williams turn 34 shortly into the 2015-2016 NHL season but is still a valuable top-6 winger.
3. Drew Stafford
In 50 games for the Buffalo Sabres Stafford had nine goals and 15 assists for 24 points. In 26 games for the Jets Stafford had nine goals and 10 assists for 19 points. Simply put, in the right situation (a team actually trying to win games) Stafford can be a solid secondary scoring option with upside that also brings a physical game. He should be compensated well in free agency as one of the better wingers available.
4. Michael Frolik
Frolik has put up 42 points in each of his past two seasons in Winnipeg, producing much more offense than his two and half seasons in Chicago, and should be an attractive option for team's seeking top-6 help in free agency. Frolik is sound defensively and at 27 years old has plenty of good years ahead of him.
5. Matt Beleskey
Beleskey enters unrestricted free agency at 27 and does so coming off a a career year in Anaheim. The scrappy left winger potted 22 goals and 10 assists in 65 regular season games for the Ducks and continued his hot hand in the playoffs by scoring eight goals and adding an assist for nine points in 16 post-season contests. Beleskey looks primed receive a significant increase of his previous two-year 2.7 million deal come July 1st if he hits the open market.
6. Steve Downie
Much like the Wild's own Matt Cooke, Steve Downie is a player that needed to figure out how to toe that fine line of physical play in order to continue his NHL career. Downie has done that and become a valued bottom-6 asset as a hard-nosed, agitating winger that can chip in offensively. Downie is the type of player built for a playoff team and should be inked to a new contract shortly into free agency.
7. Erik Cole
At 36 years old Erik Cole is still a productive and versatile NHL player. Cole brings some grit and physicality but his 21 goals in 68 games, split between Dallas and Detroit, last season shows he can still score at this level too. Cole would be a nice add to a team seeking bottom-6 and secondary scoring help as well as providing a veteran presence.
8. Joel Ward
Yet another quality bottom-6 winger on the list. Ward brings size, grit, and some scoring touch evidenced by his 19 goals and 34 points last season. Adding to Ward's resumé is that he has been a solid playoff contributor over his career and continued that trend with nine points in 14 playoff games for the Caps this past playoff.
9. Curtis Glencross
Glencross continues the trend of solid bottom-6 wingers that should hit the free agent market. This past season Glencross put up 35 points between Calgary and Washington and also scored a goal in 10 playoff games for the Capitals. Glencross won't be a headline signing but he provides leadership and is a dependable 3rd/4th line player with offensive upside.
10. Erik Condra
At just 28 years old Condra should be a relatively reasonable addition, financially, for a team looking for 4th line help. Given the other names available, assuming they all hit free agency, Condra will likely be the bargain option that could exceed expectations. His 23 points last season show he can provide some offense and +13 rating indicates he's defensively responsible.
|Player||Pos||Team||Age||Cap Hit||FA Status|
|Mike Green||D||WSH||29||6,083,333||2015 (UFA)|
|Martin St. Louis||RW||NYR||39||5,625,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Shawn Horcoff||C||DAL||36||5,500,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Paul Martin||D||PIT||34||5,000,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Lubomir Visnovsky||D||NYI||38||4,750,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Sergei Gonchar||D||MTL||41||4,600,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Erik Cole||LW||DET||36||4,500,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Tomas Fleischmann||LW||ANA||31||4,500,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Martin Erat||RW||ARI||33||4,500,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Mike Fisher||C||NSH||35||4,200,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Andrej Meszaros||D||BUF||29||4,125,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Daniel Briere||C||COL||37||4,000,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Drew Stafford||RW||WPG||29||4,000,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Christian Ehrhoff||D||PIT||32||4,000,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Antti Niemi||G||SJS||31||3,800,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Antoine Vermette||C||CHI||32||3,750,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Sheldon Souray||D||ANA||38||3,666,667||2015 (UFA)|
|Justin Williams||RW||LAK||33||3,650,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Bryan Allen||D||MTL||34||3,500,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Matt Cullen||C||NSH||38||3,500,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Francois Beauchemin||D||ANA||35||3,500,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Scottie Upshall||LW||FLA||31||3,500,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Michael Ryder||RW||NJD||35||3,500,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Johnny Oduya||D||CHI||33||3,375,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Cody Franson||D||NSH||27||3,300,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Michael Frolik||RW||WPG||27||3,300,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Jarret Stoll||C||LAK||32||3,250,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Rich Peverley||C||DAL||32||3,250,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Jan Hejda||D||COL||36||3,250,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Barret Jackman||D||STL||34||3,166,667||2015 (UFA)|
|Bryce Salvador||D||NJD||39||3,166,667||2015 (UFA)|
|Tomas Kopecky||RW||FLA||33||3,000,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Robyn Regehr||D||LAK||35||3,000,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Joel Ward||RW||WSH||34||3,000,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Jiri Tlusty||C||WPG||27||2,950,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Viktor Fasth||G||EDM||32||2,900,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Eric Brewer||D||TOR||36||2,867,500||2015 (UFA)|
|Kyle Brodziak||C||MIN||31||2,833,333||2015 (UFA)|
|Karri Ramo||G||CGY||28||2,750,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Andrej Sekera||D||LAK||29||2,750,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Sean Bergenheim||LW||MIN||31||2,750,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Curtis Glencross||LW||WSH||32||2,550,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Olli Jokinen||C||STL||36||2,500,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Michal Neuvirth||G||NYI||27||2,500,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Tyler Kennedy||C||NYI||28||2,350,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Ryan Wilson||D||COL||28||2,250,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Michal Rozsival||D||CHI||36||2,200,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Chris Stewart||RW||MIN||27||2,075,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Brad Richards||C||CHI||35||2,000,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Zbynek Michalek||D||STL||32||2,000,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Marek Zidlicky||D||DET||38||2,000,000||2015 (UFA)|
|John Erskine||D||WSH||34||1,962,500||2015 (UFA)|
|Josh Harding||G||MIN||30||1,900,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Jonas Gustavsson||G||DET||30||1,850,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Jordan Leopold||D||MIN||34||1,750,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Mike Weaver||D||MTL||37||1,750,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Shawn Matthias||C||VAN||27||1,750,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Jim Slater||C||WPG||32||1,600,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Gregory Campbell||C||BOS||31||1,600,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Adam McQuaid||D||BOS||28||1,566,667||2015 (UFA)|
|Brenden Morrow||LW||TBL||36||1,550,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Keith Ballard||D||MIN||32||1,500,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Michael Santorelli||C||NSH||1,500,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Eric Fehr||C||WSH||29||1,500,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Daniel Cleary||RW||DET||36||1,500,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Matt Carkner||D||NYI||34||1,500,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Martin Havlat||LW||NJD||34||1,500,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Peter Budaj||G||WPG||32||1,400,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Matt Beleskey||LW||ANA||27||1,350,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Daniel Paille||LW||BOS||31||1,300,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Patrick Kaleta||RW||BUF||29||1,250,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Mark Letestu||C||CBJ||30||1,250,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Jhonas Enroth||G||DAL||26||1,250,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Erik Condra||RW||OTT||28||1,250,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Matt Bartkowski||D||BOS||27||1,250,000||2015 (UFA)|
|James Sheppard||C||NYR||27||1,200,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Tim Gleason||D||WSH||32||1,200,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Marcel Goc||C||STL||31||1,200,000||2015 (UFA)|
|David Schlemko||D||CGY||28||1,187,500||2015 (UFA)|
|Brad Richardson||RW||VAN||30||1,150,000||2015 (UFA)|
|B.J. Crombeen||RW||ARI||29||1,150,000||2015 (UFA)|
|David Booth||LW||TOR||30||1,100,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Maxim Lapierre||C||PIT||30||1,100,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Mike Ribeiro||C||NSH||35||1,050,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Carl Soderberg||C||BOS||29||1,008,333||2015 (UFA)|
|Dany Heatley||LW||FLA||34||1,000,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Anton Volchenkov||D||NSH||33||1,000,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Scott Hannan||D||SJS||36||1,000,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Matt Irwin||D||SJS||27||1,000,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Thomas Greiss||G||PIT||29||1,000,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Steve Downie||RW||PIT||28||1,000,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Ray Emery||G||PHI||32||1,000,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Derek Roy||C||EDM||32||1,000,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Jesse Joensuu||LW||EDM||27||950,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Anders Lindback||G||BUF||27||925,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Colton Orr||RW||TOR||33||925,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Dan Ellis||G||FLA||34||900,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Patrick Dwyer||RW||CAR||31||900,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Lee Stempniak||RW||WPG||32||900,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Jay Beagle||RW||WSH||29||900,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Jayson Megna||C||PIT||25||874,125||2015 (UFA)|
|Manny Malhotra||C||MTL||35||850,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Aaron Ness||D||NYI||25||826,875||2015 (UFA)|
|Danny Kristo||RW||NYR||24||826,875||2015 (UFA)|
|Matt Donovan||D||NYI||25||826,875||2015 (UFA)|
|Devan Dubnyk||G||MIN||29||800,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Peter Harrold||D||NJD||32||800,000||2015 (UFA)|
|David Moss||RW||ARI||33||800,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Andre Benoit||D||BUF||31||800,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Aaron Johnson||D||OTT||32||800,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Korbinian Holzer||D||ANA||27||787,500||2015 (UFA)|
|Matt Hackett||G||BUF||25||750,750||2015 (UFA)|
|Tom Sestito||LW||VAN||27||750,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Brian McGrattan||RW||CGY||33||750,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Brian Gibbons||C||CBJ||27||750,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Jason LaBarbera||G||ANA||35||750,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Andrew Desjardins||C||CHI||28||750,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Devin Setoguchi||RW||CGY||28||750,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Jack Skille||RW||CBJ||28||750,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Matt Halischuk||RW||WPG||27||725,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Ryan Carter||C||MIN||31||725,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Jason Missiaen||G||NYR||25||715,000||2015 (UFA)|
|Paul Carey||C||BOS||26||715,000||2015 (UFA)|