With the shortened 48 game season flying under our nose – getting lost under Brad Marchand’s – and the trade deadline approaching with just about a month away (April 3rd). I figured I would take a look at current players who could be free agents after this season.
This is part one of two as I am still waiting to see how teams fair out over the next few days or so. As you may already know, the next few days will be a deciding factor for a lot of teams as to whether they will be resigning or trading off pieces to their puzzle.
Most of these players I mention will most likely be resigned by their current team and a few of them will most likely be dealt before the trade deadline. Then that leaves a few teams who will lose their player(s) and get nothing in return during the off-season.
The 2013-14 season the cap space is supposed to drop from the current hit of $70,200,000 all the way down to $64,300,000. With that being said, you can expect a lot of teams to start dumping off players to get under this cap. For example: Philly, Minnesota, San Jose, Chicago and Vancouver all will most likely be the teams that need to start dumping contracts. In that order those teams currently lead the NHL with the highest cap hits.
I based this list strictly on contract status, and only looked at the one who are going to be free agents both unrestricted and restricted. Of course there will be players with contracts going through next season, who will also probably get moved, but let’s just take a look at these puckers for now.
Philadelphia Flyers – Simon Gagne (could take a hike)
The Flyers just reacquired Gagne this week but he’s set to become a free agent at season’s end. With that being said, I find it very hard to believe the Flyers will not resign Gagne. Being right up against the cap this season with not a dime to spare as pucking usual, something will have to give. If Philly can’t run Danny Briere out of town, it’s just possible we see Gagne take a walk…you just never know with Paul Holmgren.
Minnesota Wild – Niklas Backstrom (stays in Minny)
If the Wild want to compete every year and not remain the laughing stock of the NHL, they will find a way to resign Backstrom. He currently has a .918 SV% this season with a .911 SV% in the playoffs for his career.
Maybe if Josh Harding wasn’t going through scoliousis we could see Backstrom taking a hike, but not this time around.
Vancouver Canucks – Mason Raymond (takes a hike)
It doesn’t help Raymond that he’s playing on the Canucks third line this season, but he also doesn’t help his case for being a joke in the playoffs. In 51 games with the Canucks in the playoffs he has 16 points with a -6 rating. So in reality, he has just 10 points if you want to look at it like that. And don’t even blame it on Roberto Luongo.
The Canucks are one of those teams right up against the cap hit, and next season they will need to find a way to get under. Expect Mason Raymond to take a hike, he’s a UFA and will most likely get traded before the trade deadline.
San Jose Sharks – Ryane Clowe (takes a hike)
Like Raymond, Ryan Clowe is currently playing on the Sharks 3rd line and only has 6 points this season with a -1 rating. And like the Canucks, the Sharks are one of those teams up against the cap and next season will be a tight pucking squeeze.
I’m sure Clowe will be looking for something in the $4M range, but $4m to play on the third line? Nah, can’t see it happening. I don’t care how gritty you are. The Sharks are better off resigning Gomez for peanuts and throwing him on the 3rd line. Expect Clowe to be traded before the trade deadline.
Chicago Blackhawks – Ray Emery (could take a hike)
This one will be interesting. I have always been a Ray Emery fan and was a sour puss when the Flyers let him go. Emery has proven himself when he carried the Ducks into the playoffs when they were on the border line, winning just about the last 7 games of the regular season. And now he’s in Chicago with an incredible 9-0 record.
At this point, I would expect Ray Emery to start asking for a deal longer than 1 year for at least $3M. But with Corey Crawford in town, I don’t see the Hawks resigning Emery. They probably won’t deal him before the trade deadline only because Emery and Crawford are a great 1, 2 punch in net. Expect Emery to become a free agent this summer finally landing a decent contract. Which is well deserved.
New York Rangers – Derek Stepan (stays in the big apple)
The Rangers need help up the middle and letting Stepan go would be a big mistake. He is set to become a RFA so the Rangers have time to work with him. But how much is he going to be expecting? Playing on the second line with 10 points this season and having a +9 rating, he’s going to get paid.
It’s going to be a tight squeeze to stay under the cap, but I can see Stepan getting around $3M next season. Then once they dump off Gaborik next season, things will be much better for the Rangers.
Calgary Flames – Jarome Iginla (takes a hike)
Iginla is by far the biggest free agent this off-season and I’m sure he wants out of Calgary. The bottom line is, Iginla needs a center, a top line center to play alongside with. He’s currently not getting that in Calgary and won’t be getting it any time soon.
He is set to become a UFA and you can bet your house he will be traded before the trade deadline. The Flames aren’t making the playoffs this season and they need a complete rebuild. Iginla has 15 points this season so far playing alongside Matt Stajan, imagine if he had a real center to play with. Oh let’s say…Crosby or Krejci?
Boston Bruins – Nathan Horton, Andrew Ference and Tuukka Rask (bye, bye, stays)
Speaking of Jarome Iginla, how great would he look in a Bruins uniform? Taking the right wing spot on the top line which is currently filled by – soon to be – UFA Nathan Horton. If the Bruins can land Iginla, say good bye to Horton and his $4M cap hit. There’s no doubt that the Bruins will trade for Iginla which will involve Nathan Horton somehow, some way.
As for Andrew Ference I’m not so sure he stays in Boston. Currently buried under guys liked Chara, Boychuk, Seidenberg, and up comer Hamilton, Andrew Ference would shine elsewhere. Where…oh I don’t know…the Philadelphia Flyers would be a decent choice. Expect a team in need of defense to sign him when he becomes a UFA this summer.
Tuukka Rask will be a RFA this summer and will resign with the Bruins. Not even sure why I’m wasting my time talking about him.
New Jersey Devils – Patrick Elias, Dainius Zubrus, Alexei Ponikarovsky (stays, bye, stays)
Patrick Elias has a NTC and is set to become a UFA this summer. The Devils are playing well and need his help in the playoffs. With that being said, no way Elias gets traded before the trade deadline. Will he stay with the Devils though? Who knows, depends on their playoff run. In my opinion, I think Elias resigns for one more year then goes elsewhere after that. Unless of course the Devils win the Stanley Cup this season, he will walk in the summer and sign elsewhere.
Zubrus or Ponikarovsky is the question. Which of the two do the Devils resign? I guess it will all depend on how Ponikarovsky plays the rest of the season out and how he performs in the playoffs. I will say this, if Zubrus wasn’t such a fragile risk, he would be resigning. Expect Zubrus to take a walk this summer, he won’t be dealt before the trade deadline.
Anaheim Ducks – I need a 46” monitor to write this one out. Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu.
Those are some big names and this one could get ugly. The Ducks are rolling and are one of the hottest teams in the NHL right now. Which makes this one that much more difficult to figure out.
I’ll start with Selanne since he’s the easiest. I would imagine this is his last year in the NHL especially after he has a deep playoff run this season. Yes, I just said that, deep playoff run. He came back knowing Getzlaf, Perry and Koivu were all in their last year of their contracts and it was a make or break season.
As for Saku Koivu, he’s another I’d expect to be done after this season as well. 38 years old and not getting any younger, he retires after this season OR signs elsewhere as a depth player playing a mentor role.
Now for the hard predictions, Getzlaf and Perry. With Selanne’s and Koivu’s cap hits coming off the table, that leaves about $15,161,869 of available cap space the Ducks have to play with. I can almost guarantee both Getzlaf and Perry will be looking for a big contract in the $6.5 per year range, or more. With that being said, one has to go and one will stay.
I expect Ryan Getzlaf to stay in Anaheim getting that big contract but as for Cory Perry, he walks in the summer. Getzlaf is a center and they’re hard to come by today, with Bobby Ryan playing center on the second line – capable of playing the first – there’s just too much of a hole down the middle if they were to lose Getzlaf. The Ducks will try to keep them both, but with the way they’re both playing they’re both going to want Anze Kopitar money.
There’s no way Perry gets traded before the trade deadline though, he’s playing too good right now and they need him for the playoffs. As long as Anaheim sees the cup rising again, they will be OK with Perry walking and getting nothing but a Stanley Cup banner in return.
Carolina Hurricanes – Alexander Semin (stays)
$7M is a lot for a player who doesn’t make the players around him better…or wait..does he? Semin has 12 assists this season and just 4 goals. WITH A +11 RATING! Troy Brouwer, eat your heart out.
The Hurricanes are playing really well this season and they expect nothing less than a playoff appearance. Being in such a weak division, they should have no problems making it into the playoffs. With that being said, Alex Semin is going to play a BIG role and will be the deciding factor for the Hurricanes come playoff time.
There’s no way the Hurricanes trade him before the trade deadline and there’s no way they let him walk in the off-season getting nothing in return. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Semin has a bad rep from the Capitals piss poor media but they should probably take a look at their own captain for a change. The numbers don’t like, and they all point at Semin being a great hockey player. Semin resigns in Carolina.
Well, there you pucking have it. Part 1 of my craziness. Comments are welcomed, so be sure to share your thoughts!
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