The Calgary Flames should be a busy team this upcoming offseason. With the contracts of their future stars, in Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan ending this season. The bet is that they will sign them, to long term contracts, to lock up and solidify the future here in Calgary. Do you look at moving the captain? At 33 years old, he is getting almost to that non-productivity stage in his career, where he will be making $6.75M per season. My opinion, possibly move him, for a younger and more valuable asset.
Do the Calgary Flames go after some of these upcoming free agents when the time comes? If so, they will need to make moves. They need to clear up some cap; The Flames have a lot of options to work with. They should be busy at the deadline, moving overpaid players for draft picks, or prospects. The Flames should free up as much space as they can, because of the fact that there is a unbelievable list of upcoming FA’s that could change, and help any team. It never hurts to be the team with the most cap space, to get the player in which you think fits you most.
Dennis Wideman – $5.25M Cap hit (2 Years left)
Deryk Engelland – $2.9617M Cap hit (2 Years left)
Ladislav Smid – $3.5M Cap hit (2 Years left)
David Jones – $4.00M Cap hit (Upcoming UFA)
Mason Raymond – $3.15M Cap hit (2 Years left)
Jiri Hudler – $4M Cap hit (upcoming UFA)
Jonas Hiller – $4.5M Cap hit (Upcoming UFA)
Karri Ramo – $3.8M Cap hit (Upcoming UFA)
=$31.1617M Cap space free’d up
Role players and depth defensemen are going to be the biggest currency of the day Wednesday when the 2015 NHL free agent market opens.
A big reason for that is most of the impact players who could be free agents have already signed new contracts with their current employers. Players in the free agent class of 2016 can begin signing extensions Wednesday, so it’s time to take a look at the biggest names who can become unrestricted and restricted free agents a year from now.
There are plenty of impact players on these two lists, and any number of them signing a new contract could end up being the biggest news of the day and have the greatest lasting impact on a franchise.
NOTE: The number in parentheses is the player’s age when the 2016-17 season begins.
Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings (29 years old)
Kopitar is one of the top five centers in the world and along with Drew Doughty the dual engines of the Kings. The average annual value on his current contract is $6.8 million, and he’ll receive a significant raise.
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning (26)
Stamkos is one of the two best goal scorers on the planet, and just captained a team to within two victories of the Stanley Cup. He could surpass Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane for the highest AAV in the League, and anything below a max contract would be savings to help the Lightning sign other core players (more on that in a bit).
Jakub Voracek, Philadelphia Flyers (27)
No. 1 centers and No. 1 defensemen are the most valuable skaters, but Voracek is on the short list for best wing in the NHL. He and Claude Giroux can be a dynamic duo for years to come. Among wings drafted in 2007 or later, Voracek is first in points in the past three seasons with 189 (one more than Kane) and fourth in points per game behind Kane, Jamie Benn and Taylor Hall.
Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg Jets (31)
Byfuglien is fine as a power forward when the Jets have put him there, but he’s an elite defenseman, even if the numbers like his play more than the eyeballs do sometimes. Winnipeg has a lot of young talent on the way and is an emerging contender, but what happens with Byfuglien could be critical for the Jets to make a Stanley Cup run in the near future.
David Backes, St. Louis Blues (32)
One of the best two-way centers in the League, but the Blues’ postseason record has probably kept him from being firmly in a group with guys like Toews and Kopitar. Even if he’s just outside the elite, he’s incredibly valuable and a No. 1 center on many teams.
Eric Staal, Carolina Hurricanes (31)
After eight years of averaging 0.85 points per game or better, he’s slipped to 0.77 and 0.70 the past two seasons. He’ll be 32 early in the 2016-17 season, but his value could get a boost from an improved team around him in 2015-16.
Kyle Okposo, New York Islanders (28)
Okposo is an interesting player to monitor. His name was reported as a potential trade candidate before the 2015 NHL Draft. The Islanders have lots of young players who could become frontline guys on a title contender, but Okposo is already such a player. He’s also likely due a hefty raise from his current AAV of $2.8 million.
Andrew Ladd, Winnipeg Jets (30)
One of five captains on this list (Shane Doan is a sixth) who could be UFAs next summer, he can still be a valuable top-six forward and obviously an important member of Winnipeg’s leadership group.
Erik Johnson, Colorado Avalanche (28)
Johnson was having a nice 2014-15 season, and not just because of an inflated shooting percentage, before injury derailed it. He’s not the only key member of the defense corps the Avalanche have to negotiate a contract with.
Alex Goligoski, Dallas Stars (31)
Goligoski has played a lot of minutes in his four-plus years in Dallas, and is an above-average but maybe not elite defenseman. He could be a veteran anchor for an otherwise pretty young defense corps in the coming years for the Stars.
Brian Campbell, Florida Panthers (37)
Campbell went from looking like a huge overpay for the Chicago Blackhawks seven years ago to being properly valued as the cap went up and as advanced stats helped illuminate his worth. His next contract will probably be much shorter in length though.
Milan Lucic, Los Angeles Kings (28)
Now that the Boston Bruins have turned him into a huge haul, the Kings have him for one year at $6 million. He was considered a top power forward, but his production has slipped in two of the past three seasons.
David Perron, Pittsburgh Penguins (28)
His arrival in Pittsburgh started great, but his production cooled as the season progressed. He’s got two of the best centers in the world to play with, which could enhance his value.
Jaromir Jagr, Florida Panthers (44)
He was great as both a mentor and a facilitator for Florida’s group of young forwards after arriving in a trade this past season. He has said he wants to play until he’s 50. If he thinks he can still play in 2016, someone in the NHL will pay him to do so.
There is also a large group of restricted free agents who are already impact players at the NHL level. Teams, and the players, have an interesting decision to make about a long-term contract versus a shorter “bridge deal” as it has become known.
Sometimes the two sides can’t decide on either, and a potential RFA ends up on the move like Hamilton from the Bruins to the Flames this past weekend.
Here’s a list of the top RFAs in the class of 2016:
Nathan MacKinnon/Tyson Barrie, Colorado Avalanche
Johnny Gaudreau/Sean Monahan, Calgary Flames
Hampus Lindholm, Anaheim Ducks
Nikita Kucherov/Alex Killorn, Tampa Bay Lightning
Filip Forsberg/Seth Jones, Nashville Predators
Sean Couturier/Brayden Schenn, Philadelphia Flyers
Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers
Jaden Schwartz, St. Louis Blues
Morgan Rielly, Toronto Maple Leafs
Chris Kreider, New York Rangers
Ryan Strome, New York Islanders
Olli Maatta, Pittsburgh Penguins
Michael Hutchinson, Winnipeg Jets
Jared Spurgeon, Minnesota Wild
Torey Krug, Boston Bruins
Boone Jenner, Columbus Blue Jackets
Petr Mrazek, Detroit Red Wings