When 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.
Note: I’m not even going to put Nicklas Lidstrom on this list, because barring a disaster, he’ll either play the 2011-12 season as a member of the Detroit Red Wings or retire.
Current Age: 33
Previous Cap Hit: $7.5 million
It’s rare that a hockey player can live up to such a huge cap hit, but the Big Z often (dare I say) even exceeded that value. The question is, will the Boston Bruins want to give him another Chara-sized deal once he gets older? If not, he’ll get big money somewhere else.
Current Age: 31
Previous Cap Hit: $5.75 million
Markov is one of the league’s most underrated defenseman. He’s one of the best point producers, a guy who makes a big difference for Montreal’s powerplay unit. He’s at the right age to receive one more nice deal.
Current Age: 32
Previous Cap Hit: $4.25 million
Aside from being an annual (heck, semi-annual) source of trade rumors, Kaberle’s also been one of the league’s best passing defenseman. He can really help a team’s powerplay, much like Markov.
Current Age: 29
Previous Cap Hit: $3.75 million
He hasn’t really “put it all together” but Bieksa brings a nice set of skills and nastiness to the table. Plus he’s still young enough to earn a few years.
Current Age: 27
Previous Cap Hit: $3.1 million
I’m going out on a limb a bit with this one because Ehrhoff had a great season with the Vancouver Canucks. If he can put two good years together, he could be a very well-sought after player at his age.
Current Age: 32
Previous Cap Hit: $3.5 million
He’s not flashy – and certainly not worthy of being a No. 1 draft pick – but Phillips is a solid shutdown defenseman still more or less in his prime.
Intriguing: Hal Gill, Andy Greene, Roman Hamrlik
Washed up or not?: Ed Jovanovski
Injury prone: Sami Salo, Eric Brewer
Frustrating: Bryan McCabe, Tom Poti