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MN Wild Free Agency Master Guide: An Overview

We take a look at free agency from a Wild and NHL perspective. Check out the list of pending UFAs and kick off arm-chair GM season in style.

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

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

Center

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.

Wings

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.

NHL UFAs

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)