Top 5 NHL Free Agents by Position
Up front, this offseason’s free agents are weak, but the defense is loaded for any team looking to rebuild their backend for the upcoming season. The group also features four goalies that could potentially hit the market that could be starters next year.
1. Mike Ribeiro
2015 stats: 82 GP, 15 G, 62 points
With his 11th straight 45+ point season, Mike Ribeiro is set for a huge pay upgrade this offseason. He spent most of the year on Nashville’s top six, being a workhorse and not missing a game (at a very low 1.0m deal). It is likely Ribeiro will stay in Nashville, but will certainly be one of the better offensive players available if he reaches free agency.
2. Antoine Vermette
2015 stats: 82 GP, 13 G, 38 points
Vermette was the most highly sought after piece at the trade deadline, and will gain interest from the same group of teams come July 1st. His faceoff ability and defensive skill are his best assets, and would slot in nicely as a second or third center on a contending team.
3. Mike Fisher
2015 stats: 59 GP, 19 G, 39 points
After missing the start of the season with a torn Achilles, Fisher came back to add a necessary piece to Nashville’s dynamic offense. Fisher and Nashville have already begun contract extension talks and are nearing an agreement.
4. Carl Soderberg
2015 stats: 82 GP, 13 G, 44 points
Soderberg is caught up in Boston’s salary cap disaster, leaving him to explore free agency. He is a solid two-way center who could get upwards to 4.5 million on the market, but he may prefer going back to Europe if the situation is not right.
5. Brad Richards
2015 stats: 76 GP, 12 goals, 37 points
Richards’ future depends a lot on how far Chicago goes this offseason. If they can make it to the Finals and win it all, Richards may pursue other options now that he has another Cup. If not, you could see him back in Chicago playing alongside Patrick Kane on another minimal contract
1. Matt Beleskey
2015 stats: 65 GP, 22 G, 32 points
Beleskey is an interesting name this offseason, because after his 20-goal campaign, plus a significant playoff performance, he could be in for some major money this offseason. He is most likely to hit free agency, but teams need to be weary about his stats before this season (35 goals in 264 career games). I submit to you Exhibit A, David Clarkson.
2. Shawn Matthias
2015 stats: 78 GP, 18 G, 27 points
Matthias is a perfect bottom-six guy that you want on your team, and Vancouver may not be able to or willing to keep him come July 1st. Matthias is a low-risk, high-reward kind of signing for any team that could get him on a one or two year deal.
3. Jiri Tlusty
2015 stats: 72 GP, 14 G, 31 points
Not the most enticing stats, but Tlusty still gets it done as a middle-six player in the league. Tlusty will most likely be a cheap signing, around the one to two million mark for a contending team, or so that is my guess.
4. Daniel Winnik
2015 stats: 79 GP, 9 G, 34 points
A solid checker and defensive oriented player, Winnik is the perfect player to round out your bottom-six group with. Bring it all and leaves it all on the table every night, and is perfect for a team in need of penalty kill help.
5. Sean Bergenheim
2015 stats: 56 GP, 9 goals, 19 points
Bergenheim had a rough year, but has had continual 20-point seasons in the past. He could either be a low risk, high reward signing this year, or go to Europe to make more mone His call.
1. Justin Williams
2015 stats: 81 GP, 18 goals, 41 points
Mr. Game 7 kept with his yearly 40 point pace again this year, although the Kings did not make the playoffs. Williams is a solid top-six veteran for any team looking for another, such as Florida or New Jersey. The price will be high, however, as he is considered to be one of the top if not the top winger in free agency.
2. Martin St. Louis
2015 stats: 74 GP, 21 goals, 52 points
St. Louis is getting up there in age and his production is lacking, evident by his one goal in 18 games playoff performance so far this year, but is still good enough to make it as a top-six guy in this league. The Rangers have to decide how long they will bring him back for and at what price (if they are willing to pay it, too). If he goes to free agency, St. Louis will have minimal options if he wants to keep his family in the same area.
3. Joel Ward
2015 stats: 82 GP, 19 G, 34 points
Maybe Ward isn’t known for his regular season numbers, but he sure gets it done in the playoffs. A gritty top-six kind of player that can get it done on all fronts, Ward had 9 points in 14 playoff games this year, and some huge goals in there. He would be a perfect fit on any playoff team who loves to check and play a gritty game.
4. Drew Stafford
2015 stats: 76 GP, 18 G, 43 points
Stafford was part of the big Myers/Kane trade back in the middle stages of the regular season, and will most likely be hitting free agency. Stafford is a solid player but nothing special, and will get around 3.5 million on the market.
5. Michael Frolik
2015 stats: 82 GP, 19 G, 42 points
Frolik enjoyed his most successful season since 2008-2009 this season, putting up 42 points. Frolik will be looked to be re-signed by the Jets, although the price may be to high, as he could get around 4-5 million on July 1st.
1. Mike Green
2015 stats: 72 GP, 10 G, 45 points
If you want an offensive defensemen, Mike Green is your guy. More known for his points than his defense, Mike Green will be up there for most money earned this offseason. Washington will look to re-sign him, if he’s comfortable with a lower pay and role, and there have even been rumors of him possibly moving up to forward.
2. Jeff Petry
2015 stats: 68 GP, 7 goals, 22 points
Petry isn’t a flashy defenseman, but rather one who does his job and does it well. Perry’s first option is Montreal, but is due for a big payday no matter what he does. One of the more well rounded defensemen of the class.
3. Paul Martin
2015 stats: 74 GP, 3 G, 20 points
Much like Petry, Martin is a very solid all around defenseman. He gets the job done physically if he needs to and was one of Pittsburgh’s only defensemen this year to stay healthy. Losing him would be an huge blow to them.
4. Cody Franson
2015 stats: 78 GP, 7 goals, 36 points
Although he was awful in Nashville, Franson’s play in Toronto was good enough to get him on this list. Franson will attract interest from many teams, and he isn’t ruling out a return to Toronto. Vancouver is also one of his preferred destinations.
5. Francois Beauchemin
2015 stats: 64 GP, 11 goals. 23 points
One of the most underrated defensemen on the Ducks and in the league, Beauchemin will be sought after hard by the Ducks (in terms of re-signing him). If not, Beauchemin will make some team very, very happy for the upcoming years.
1. Devan Dubnyk
2015 stats: 27-9-2, .936 SV%
We all know what Dubnyk did this year for Minnesota, and he is the most important free agent in the league this year. He was the reason Minnesota made the playoffs, and it’s best for both if he re-signs there, which has a very high likelihood.
2. Antti Niemi
2015 stats: 31-23-7, .914 SV%
Niemi’s days in San Jose could be numbered, and he along with his Stanley Cup ring will be hitting the market. Niemi would easily be the most wanted goalie out there if Dubnyk does in fact re-sign with Minnesota. This departure, however, would leave San Jose with a huge gap to fill.
3. Michal Neuvirth
2015 stats: 6-17-3, .918 SV%
Those stats are with Buffalo prior to the trade deadline, because he was awful with the Islanders after that. He thinks he is a starting goalie and will most likely fulfill his hopes somewhere this offseason, and that’s why he’s likely to hit free agency. Edmonton, Buffalo, San Jose are options.
4. Kari Ramo
2015 stats: 15-9-3, .912 SV%
Ramo will most likely be back with Calgary next season in the 1A/1B format with Hiller, but there’s always a chance he slips to free agency. He stole the starting job from Hiller in the playoffs and could look to continue that streak at the start of next season.
5. Thomas Greiss
2015 stats: 9-6-3, .908 SV%
Reliable backup, not much more. Will still find a job this year, whether back in Pittsburgh or elsewhere.
Stay tuned this week for our mock draft and thanks for reading.