Ten most promising potential UFA forwards in 2011 (plus a complete list)

Thumbnail image for jumbojoevchicago.jpgWhen a sports team (or group of fans) spouts the “Wait ’til next year” line, they usually mean that the next season could bring better things. Yet after a few days of the free agent frenzy, that saying might also apply to July 2011.

It’s very early to look at future unrestricted free agents – especially since many of them will probably sign extensions at some point before then – but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun picturing different scenarios.

In the next few posts, I’ll go over some of the most promising unrestricted free agents by position.

Let’s begin with the forwards. All of the eligible forwards (listed by CapGeek.com) are included in the spreadsheet below. (Click to enlarge)

ufas2011.JPG

OK, now that you have the full list, here are the 10 best potential 2011 UFA forwards. These aren’t necessarily in order from top to bottom, though the top five are better than the bottom five.

Joe Thornton
Current Age: 31
Previous Cap Hit: $7.2 million

Could Jumbo Joe become the gem of the 2011 summer? That remains to be seen, but even if you think he shrinks from the playoff spotlight, he’s still regularly among the league leaders in assists and points. If he decided to test the free agent market, he could really garner some interest.

Brad Richards
Current Age: 30
Previous Cap Hit: $7.8 million

I often call him Brad “RICHards” for a reason … the one-time Conn Smythe winner landed a ridiculous contract after the Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup. Despite being a great playmaker, Richards isn’t quite worth that money, but he’s still young enough that he could get another good deal or two. Will he stay with Dallas?

Alex Seminsemin2.jpg
Current Age: 26
Previous Cap Hit: $6 million

He’s injury-prone (missed nine games, 20 games and 19 games in the last three seasons), not particularly defensively sound and floundered a bit in the playoffs … but he’s still a dynamic, young scorer. He scored 40 goals and 84 points last season and 34 and 79 in only 62 games in 08-09. He has his warts, but would still be in his prime come UFA time.

Mikko Koivu
Current Age: 27
Previous Cap Hit: $3.25 million

As a member of the offensively stunted Minnesota Wild, Saku’s younger brother flies under the radar a bit but he’s a nice two-way player whose numbers keep improving (from 42 to 67 to 71 points in the last three seasons) as he enters his prime. He could be an under-the-radar gem if the Wild don’t cough up the money to keep him.

Simon Gagne
Current Age: 30
Previous Cap Hit: $5.25 million

When he’s not dealing with concussion problems or other injuries, Gagne is one of the league’s natural goal scorers. He’s already the source of trade rumors in Philadelphia, so chances are another NHL team will be sending him paychecks starting in 2011-12.

After the jump, the next five forwards who could be desirable unrestricted free agents next summer. (Plus some honorable mentions)


Jason Arnott
Current Age: 35
Previous Cap Hit: $4.5 million

He’s getting older, but Arnott is a big center with some offensive zest. He’d garner a nice amount of demand as an unrestricted free agent.

Patrice Bergeron
Current Age: 24
Previous Cap Hit: $4.75 million

It’s hard to believe Bergeron is only 24 right now; it seems like he’s been through a career’s worth of challenges with his injury history. He won’t blow you away with his skills, but he can score a bit, play sound defense and win more than half of his faceoffs.

Mike Knubleknuble.jpg
Current Age: 37
Previous Cap Hit: $2.8 million

Knuble’s had quite the career supporting some of the league’s most talented scorers, spending time with Peter Forsberg and Alex Ovechkin among others. He might be a little too old to command big money next summer, but if he decides to keep playing, he could once again be a great depth signing.

Ville Leino
Current Age: 26
Previous Cap Hit: $800K

If Leino can play like he did for the Flyers during the playoffs, he should see an enormous pay increase from his frugal current deal. Even if this postseason was a bit of an outlier, he should see a raise of some kind.

David Backes
Current Age: 26
Previous Cap Hit: $2.5 million

OK, he hasn’t lit up the world, scoring-wise. Still, Backes is a big body who has a 31 goal season to his credit. I’m going to go out on a limb and say he might be in higher demand than some guys with heftier resumes but grayer hair.

Honorable mentions

Injury prone players: Tim Connolly (a potential point per game guy with atrocious luck on the IR), Steve Sullivan (see: Connolly), Justin Williams, Erik Cole, Marco Sturm

Getting older but still valuable: Jamie Langenbrunner, Cory Stillman, Andrew Brunette

Flighty but skilled: Alex Kovalev, Michael Ryder

Scroll Down For:

    Senators focus on MacArthur’s safety

    EDMONTON, AB - NOVEMBER 13: Clarke MacArthur #16 of the Ottawa Senators in action against the Edmonton Oilers during an NHL game at Rexall Place on November 13, 2014 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
    Getty
    Leave a comment

    The Ottawa Senators were already trying to take a relatively safe approach with Clarke MacArthur, yet he suffered a concussion thanks to a Patrick Sieloff hit during a scrimmage.

    It’s too early to say that MacArthur will be forced to retire after this latest injury. At the moment, the Senators were merely happy to see him at the rink receiving treatment, as Guy Boucher told reporters.

    “At this point in time, it’s not about Clarke MacArthur the hockey player. It’s about Clarke MacArthur the person,” Mark Borowiecki said, according to the Ottawa Citizen’s Ken Warren.

    It’s a thought echoed by Senators GM Pierre Dorion shortly after the check, noting that they’re most focused on MacArthur as a “human being.”

    Many wonder if Sieloff will face repercussions – perhaps even being released – for delivering such a hit during a scrimmage, especially after just being acquired.

    So far, it sounds like he isn’t getting much heat, at least beyond the initial reaction of players getting physical with him right after the check. Boucher said “we’re not pointing fingers at the young kid right now,” according to Warren.

    Here’s video of that hit, by way of Silver Seven Sens:

    Twitter has field day with Oilers’ dead-eyed mascot

    1 Comment

    The Edmonton Oilers started a Photoshopping frenzy on Monday by unleashing their bizarre, dead-eyed mascot “Hunter” onto the Internet.

    Give the team credit; the road to this mascot was paved with good intentions. Apparently thousands of Edmonton-area students aided in choosing “Hunter,” who is a tribute to the team’s original owner.

    Here’s the introductory Tweet itself. Feel free to insert your own screaming noises.

    Let’s bypass the Oilers’ more mundane release for a “bio” written in character by the, erm, “Canadian lynx” itself. Here’s a choice bit:

    Like my lynx family and friends, I only come out at night to hunt, and on one of those nights I actually came across a bunch of kids playing hockey on an outdoor rink. One look at the game and I was hooked. The speed, the skill, the fun! I began climbing up the banks of the River Valley every night during the winter, catching shinny games with everyone wearing their Edmonton Oilers jerseys, both old and new! It didn’t take me long to become a hard core Oilers fan.

    O…K.

    Honestly, there are a lot of elements to unpack here. We almost don’t need people to bat this one around on social media, but then again, Hunter inspires references from “Too Many Cooks” to “Thundercats” and more.

    Let’s gather some of the best bits.

    Futility references

    Hey, did you hear that the Oilers struggle to compete? The Internet sure did.

    They sure did.

    Pop culture references

    More than one Thundercats reference.

    Warning, if you’ve never watched “Too Many Cooks,” you might not want to go down that rabbit hole. (Either that, or you’ll feel like you REALLY missed out … there’s not a lot of room in between.)

    Creepiness

    Sensibly enough, most people hit the highest notes about how specifically terrifying that mascot is. Some of these mix in pop culture references too, but still:

    All in all, it was quite a good time, right?

    /Plans on sleeping with every light on.

    Report: Gaborik (foot) to miss eight weeks

    TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 17: Marian Gaborik #12 of Team Europe celebrates his first period goal against Team USA during the World Cup of Hockey tournament at the Air Canada Centre on September 17, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
    Getty
    3 Comments

    Update: Yikes, the Los Angeles Kings announced that Marian Gaborik will be sidelined for eight weeks with a foot injury, according to the Los Angeles Times’ Helene Elliott.

    ***

    Some bad news for Team Europe and the Los Angeles Kings — Marian Gaborik, who was seen this morning on crutches, is reportedly out of the World Cup of Hockey final and may miss the beginning of the NHL campaign as well.

    The news, first reported by Sportsnet, comes after Gaborik played 17:58 in Europe’s shock semifinal win over Sweden, scoring his team’s opening goal.

    Gaborik took a puck to the foot during the second period, yet managed to finish the game.

    The veteran Slovak had enjoyed a good tournament prior to getting hurt, scoring a pair of goals while getting healthy doses of ice time, including nearly 19 in a win over the Czechs in the group stage.

    With Gaborik out, Mikkel Boedker will (presumably) make his tournament debut. Boedker has been a healthy scratch for the Europeans thus far, though it’s possible he could continue to sit if head coach Ralph Krueger elects to dress seven defensemen — Luca Sbisa would get the call — rather than plug in another forward.

    As for the ramifications for L.A… well, this could be tough. Gaborik, signed through 2021 at $4.875M per, only scored 12 goals and 22 points in 54 games last season — missing extensive time with a lingering knee injury — and the Kings were hopeful he was in line for a bounce-back campaign, especially given how good he looked at the World Cup.

    Sportsnet reports Gaborik is headed back to Los Angeles today.

    ‘Never say never,’ but Krueger’s commitment is to Southampton, not to making an NHL return

    Southampton v Bayer Leverkusen - Pre Season Friendly
    Getty
    Leave a comment

    Ralph Krueger spent one lockout-shortened season in charge of the Edmonton Oilers, before he was unceremoniously fired (via Skype) to make way for the hiring of Dallas Eakins.

    But Krueger’s success at the World Cup, leading Team Europe into the best-of-three final against Team Canada, has a lot of people wondering if he might one day make an NHL return.

    Krueger’s current full-time job is a big one — he’s chairman of Southampton Football Club in the English Premier League.

    Suffice to say, it’s not a job one just leaves for anything.

    “I came in here committed completely to Southampton Football Club and the future of that organization in my role,” Krueger said Sunday. “You can never say never, but at the moment I’m very proud to be back in hockey at this level and to be competing. We are just having so much fun in our room, the coaches, the players, the whole group is enjoying it, and I am, too. But my real life is my commitment to Southampton Football Club at the moment.”

    Kreuger repeated his “never say never” line today, so it sounds like he’s at least open to the possibility. However, he insisted that he didn’t take the World Cup job with the goal of getting another job in hockey.

    Related: Southampton smokes West Ham in London