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2011 free agents list: The unrestricted version

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Now that the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs and 2011 NHL Entry Draft are over, hockey fans are probably starting to think about next season and trying not to think about the long, hockey-free summer. The best distraction from that stark, puck-less reality will come on Friday, July 1 when the free agent frenzy begins.

If you want to start dreaming about all the ways your team could get better (or conversely, if you want to guess which signings might provide future nightmare fuel), it might help to look at a list of free agents.

In this first post, we’ll provide the easier-to-get (but usually more expensive to sign) group known as unrestricted free agents. These guys are at least 27 years old and could be available to any team willing to fork over the dough. These players are listed by their position, current team, age and their 2010-11 salaries.

Top 100 Forwards (for a complete list, click here)

Note: players listed by previous salaries, not ranked by perceived talent.

Brad Richards DAL 31 $7,800,000
Simon Gagne TBL 31 $5,250,000
Alex Kovalev PIT 38 $5,000,000
Michael Nylander WAS 38 $4,875,000
Teemu Selanne ANA 40 $4,500,000
Jason Arnott WAS 36 $4,500,000
Tim Connolly BUF 30 $4,500,000
Michael Ryder BOS 31 $4,000,000
Michal Handzus LAK 34 $4,000,000
Steve Sullivan NAS 36 $3,750,000
Cory Stillman CAR 37 $3,533,333
Marco Sturm WAS 33 $3,500,000
Alex Ponikarovsky LAK 31 $3,200,000
Radim Vrbata PHO 30 $3,000,000
Erik Cole CAR 32 $2,900,000
Jamie Langenbrunner DAL 35 $2,800,000
Chris Clark CLB 35 $2,633,333
Tomas Fleischmann COL 27 $2,600,000
Sergei Samsonov FLA 32 $2,533,333
Vaclav Prospal NYR 36 $2,480,000
Todd White NYR 36 $2,375,000
Chuck Kobasew MIN 29 $2,333,333
Antti Miettinen MIN 30 $2,333,333
Andrew Brunette MIN 37 $2,333,333
Scottie Upshall CLB 27 $2,250,000
Brooks Laich WAS 28 $2,066,667
Nikolay Zherdev PHI 26 $2,000,000
Ethan Moreau CLB 35 $2,000,000
Mike Modano DET 41 $1,750,000
Chad Larose CAR 29 $1,700,000
Radek Dvorak WIN 34 $1,700,000
Jussi Jokinen CAR 28 $1,700,000
Chris Higgins VAN 28 $1,600,000
Kris Draper DET 40 $1,583,333
Mike Grier BUF 36 $1,500,000
Joel Ward NAS 30 $1,500,000
Pascl Dupuis PIT 32 $1,400,000
Jarkko Ruutu ANA 35 $1,300,000
John Madden MIN 38 $1,250,000
Rob Niedermayer BUF 36 $1,250,000
Tomas Kopecky CHI 29 $1,200,000
Petr Prucha PHO 28 $1,200,000
Marty Reasoner FLA 34 $1,150,000
Todd Marchant ANA 37 $1,125,000
Vernon Fiddler PHO 31 $1,100,000
Maxime Talbot PIT 27 $1,050,000
Patrick Rissmiller FLA 32 $1,000,000
Aaron Voros TOR 29 $1,000,000
Matt Bradley WAS 33 $1,000,000
Raffi Torres VAN 29 $1,000,000
Ruslan Fedotenko NYR 32 $1,000,000
Ben Eager SAN 27 $965,000
Alexandre Picard PHO 25 $868,219
Michael Rupp PIT 31 $825,000
Brian Sutherby DAL 29 $812,500
Marek Svatos OTT 29 $800,000
Boyd Gordon WAS 27 $800,000
Ville Leino PHI 27 $800,000
Marcel Goc NAS 27 $775,000
Darcy Hordichuk FLA 30 $775,000
Scott Nichol SAN 36 $760,000
Eric Godard PIT 31 $750,000
Eric Belanger PHO 33 $750,000
Patrick Eaves DET 27 $750,000
Fredrik Sjostrom TOR 28 $750,000
Brendan Morrison CGY 35 $725,000
Sean Bergenheim TBL 27 $700,000
Arron Asham PIT 33 $700,000
Brad Winchester ANA 30 $700,000
Jonas Andersson VAN 30 $675,000
Kyle Wellwood SAN 28 $650,000
Eric Boulton WIN 34 $650,000
Drew Miller DET 27 $650,000
Tanner Glass VAN 27 $625,000
Ryan Carter FLA 27 $625,000
Andrew Murray CLB 30 $625,000
Ryan Shannon OTT 28 $625,000
Matt Ellis BUF 29 $625,000
Jeff LoVecchio FLA 25 $605,000
Jamal Mayers SAN 36 $600,000
Cam Janssen STL 27 $600,000
Jamie Lundmark NAS 30 $600,000
Mark Parrish BUF 34 $600,000
Adam Hall TBL 30 $600,000
Zenon Konopka NYI 30 $600,000
Jeff Halpern MTL 35 $600,000
Kyle Wilson CLB 26 $600,000
Kris Chucko CGY 25 $600,000
Aaron Gagnon DAL 25 $600,000
Mark Mancari BUF 25 $575,000
Andy Hilbert NYI 30 $575,000
David Koci COL 30 $575,000
Tim Brent TOR 27 $575,000
Raymond Sawada DAL 26 $575,000
Ben Guite CLB 32 $575,000
Wade Belak NAS 34 $575,000
Josh Green ANA 33 $575,000
Trevor Frischmon CLB 29 $575,000
John Zeiler LAK 28 $558,333

Top 50 Defensemen

Ed Jovanovski PHO 35 $6,500,000
Bryan McCabe NYR 36 $5,750,000
Roman Hamrlik MTL 37 $5,500,000
Scott Hannan WAS 32 $4,500,000
Tomas Kaberle BOS 33 $4,250,000
Joni Pitkanen CAR 27 $4,000,000
Kevin Bieksa VAN 30 $3,750,000
Craig Rivet CLB 36 $3,500,000
Sami Salo VAN 36 $3,500,000
James Wisniewski MTL 27 $3,250,000
Christian Ehrhoff VAN 28 $3,100,000
Ian White SAN 27 $2,999,995
Steve Staios CGY 37 $2,700,000
Brent Sopel MTL 34 $2,333,333
Jim Vandermeer EDM 31 $2,300,000
Jan Hejda CLB 33 $2,000,000
Kent Huskins SAN 32 $1,700,000
Shane O’Brien NAS 27 $1,600,000
Steve Montador BUF 31 $1,550,000
Radek Martinek NYI 34 $1,500,000
Anton Babchuk CGY 27 $1,400,000
Karlis Skrastins DAL 36 $1,375,000
Sean O’Donnell PHI 39 $1,300,000
Adam Foote COL 39 $1,250,000
Steve Eminger NYR 27 $1,125,000
Severin Blindenbacher DAL 28 $1,112,500
Ruslan Salei DET 36 $1,100,000
Andrew Alberts VAN 29 $1,050,000
Brad Lukowich DAL 34 $1,000,000
Randy Jones TBL 29 $1,000,000
Marc-Andre Bergeron TBL 30 $1,000,000
Jonathan Ericsson DET 27 $900,000
Paul Mara MTL 31 $750,000
Andreas Lilja ANA 35 $750,000
Andy Greene NJD 28 $737,500
Jason Strudwick EDM 35 $725,000
Adam Pardy CGY 27 $700,000
David Hale OTT 30 $675,000
Jeff Woywitka DAL 27 $650,000
Sean Collins WAS 27 $650,000
Alexander Sulzer FLA 27 $650,000
Nathan Oystrick STL 28 $600,000
Jordan Hendry CHI 27 $600,000
Freddy Meyer WIN 30 $600,000
Drew Bagnall MIN 27 $600,000
Tyson Strachan STL 26 $600,000
Mathieu Roy TBL 27 $600,000
Dean Arsene STL 30 $600,000
Shawn Belle COL 26 $600,000
Danny Syvret PHI 26 $600,000

Top 20 Goalies

Jean-Sebastien Giguere TOR 34 $6,000,000
Tomas Vokoun FLA 34 $5,700,000
Pascal Leclaire OTT 28 $3,800,000
Dwayne Roloson TBL 41 $2,500,000
Mike Smith TBL 29 $2,200,000
Johan Hedberg NJD 38 $1,500,000
Chris Osgood DET 38 $1,416,667
Ty Conklin STL 35 $1,300,000
Marty Turco CHI 35 $1,300,000
Peter Budaj COL 28 $1,250,000
Josh Harding MIN 27 $1,200,000
Mathieu Garon CLB 33 $1,200,000
Jose Theodore MIN 34 $1,100,000
Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers EDM 27 $1,050,000
Alex Auld MTL 30 $1,000,000
Brian Boucher PHI 34 $925,000
Joey MacDonald DET 31 $550,000
Curtis McElhinney OTT 28 $535,000
Martin Gerber EDM 36 $500,000
Ray Emery ANA 28 $500,000

Oilers sign defenseman Matthew Benning, nephew of Canucks GM Jim

BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 23:  Matt Benning #5 of the Northeastern Huskies skates against the Boston University Terriers during the first period of the 2015 Beanpot Tournament Championship game at TD Garden on February 23, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Even with Adam Larsson added to the mix, the Edmonton Oilers’ organization is short on right-handed defensemen.

It remains to be seen how long it will take for Matthew Benning to make the NHL jump, but the Oilers took a step in the right (right-handed defenseman) direction by signing him to a two-year deal on Saturday.

In case you have some jokes at the ready … yes, Benning is related to Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning. The occasionally lampooned executive is his uncle. His father Brian also enjoyed an NHL career.

*Nervous laugh*

The Edmonton Journal’s Bruce McCurdy views the move as the equivalent to landing a “free draft pick.” It might be a nice perk for Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli to land Benning being that he was a 2012 sixth-rounder of the Boston Bruins.

McCurdy indicates that Benning, 22, could rank fairly high among the Oilers’ defensive prospects right off the bat, even if scarce options play a role along with whatever the blueliner brings to the table:

This is the fourth free agent signing of an NCAA player by the Oilers this off-season, though the first involving a defenceman. Previously, highly-regarded forward Drake Caggiula had signed along with right winger Patrick Russell and netminder Nick Ellis. All four are in age 22-23 and well-positioned to make an impact on the pro ranks in the near future, even as their NHL potential is an open book. But collectively they add some meat on the bones of a franchise whose organizational depth has been questionable. 

Interestingly, McCurdy notes that the Canucks were in the running for Benning’s services.

(Waits for a few more Jim Benning jokes.)

Seems like the Northeastern University product received a decent deal, relatively speaking:

Flames management enjoys a rare luxury: a clean slate

CALGARY, CANADA - FEBRUARY 27: General manager Brad Treliving of the Calgary Flames address the media before the trade deadline prior to the team's NHL game against the Ottawa Senators at the Scotiabank Saddledome on February 27, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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This is part of Calgary Flames day at PHT …

During the waning days of the Jarome Iginla/Miikka Kiprusoff years, the Calgary Flames ranked as one of the worst things a sports team could be: both expensive and uninspiring.

There were a lot of bloated contracts connected to those days, but when you look at sites like Cap Friendly or General Fanager, the slate looks a lot cleaner heading into 2016-17.

OK, so maybe you could also argue that there are still a few troubling deals to get rid of.

Dennis Wideman‘s $5.25 million salary cap hit, Ladislav Smid‘s $3.5 million mark and Deryk Engelland‘s bewildering $2.917 million cap hit all expire after next season. Chances are, you have an issue with one or maybe all of those deals, so the Flames must be giddy to close in on all that extra breathing room.

And, yes, there are some deals that Flames GM Brad Treliving may regret. Just consider today’s earlier post about Troy Brouwer.

Still, the point is clear: whatever mistakes or strokes of genius that come, at least those moves will be Treliving’s to make.

Consider some of the important calls that await:

  • Such as, how will they sort out Johnny Gaudreau‘s lingering RFA situation this summer?

The easiest path might be to try to convince him to take a deal that is identical to the one Sean Monahan received, but one or both sides likely want something different.

  • Despite bringing in both Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson, the goaltending future beyond 2016-17 is murky for a simple enough reason: neither netminder is signed beyond that point.

Elliott is receiving a bargain $2.5 million and is currently 31. Johnson, 30, barely comes in behind him at $1.7 million. It’s highly likely that Calgary will spend more money on its goalies in 2017-18, but who might be back?

And how much will the Flames need to see from Elliott and/or Johnson before trying to hammer out extensions?

The good news for Flames management is that they’re not saddled with a goaltending decision they might not have made. The scary part is that, if it doesn’t work out, it’s on them … and could cost someone a job.

  • The Flames ultimately have the power to determine who’s a marquee player and who is a part of the supporting cast.

Gaudreau is key, but it’s unclear if he’ll sign a long deal like Monahan or opt for a “bridge” deal. In addition to Monahan, the Flames signed these players to fairly long deals: Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton, T.J. Brodie, Brouwer and Michael Frolik.

Yes, you can quibble with Brouwer and maybe another name, but plenty of teams would be jealous of that list overall.

***

Many general managers must navigate minefields of someone else’s mistakes. There are a lot of challenges to the job beyond that, but Treliving & Co. get to make their own.

It’s a luxury that is unlikely to last, but the Flames stand as an interesting team for armchair (and real-life) executives to follow.

Yahoo’s fantasy hockey position tweaks signal end of a very specific era

WINNIPEG, MB - FEBRUARY 11: Dustin Byfuglien #33 of the Winnipeg Jets prepares for the faceoff in second period action in an NHL game against the Boston Bruins at the MTS Centre on February 11, 2016 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Marianne Helm/Getty Images)
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Few things deepen your hockey geekery quite like playing fantasy hockey.

For sports haters and the sports-oblivious, it’s probably bad enough to see grown adults wearing hockey sweaters out in public. What about when someone is obsessing (and sometimes muttering profanities) about a team that only exists to about 8-15 people?

Still, this is the Internet, where niche obsessions can go really deep. Just fall down a rabbit hole about Star Wars extended universe if you want to get a taste.

Us fantasy hockey nerdy dorks got some understandable but still sad news today: it appears to be an end of an era for Dustin Byfuglien and Brent Burns being considered eligible as both right wings and defensemen.

NHL.com trotted out a list of changes to Yahoo’s popular format on Saturday, and the tweaks generally make total sense.

It’s a bit of a bummer, though, as being eligible for a forward and defensive position provided another example of the unusual natures of both Byfuglien and Burns. Luckily, there are about 1,000 Exhibits for each, especially true oddball Burns.

(The debate regarding where either player should line up has largely died out, though.)

Another thing of interest in NHL.com’s list is the most prominent players who can be placed in all three forward spots. That could be a good thing to keep handy if you’re the last-minute preparation type:

The six tri-eligible players among NHL.com’s top 200, Joe Pavelski of the Sharks, Filip Forsberg of the Nashville Predators, Ryan O'Reilly of the Buffalo Sabres, Tyler Toffoli of the Los Angeles Kings, Patrick Sharp of the Dallas Stars and Jussi Jokinen of the Florida Panthers, have had their eligibilities reduced. Forsberg and Jokinen, who are now only eligible at LW, took the biggest hits from that bunch.

Forwards Robby Fabbri (now C/LW), of the St. Louis Blues, and Sam Reinhart, (now C/RW) of the Sabres, are the two players who have gone from single to dual eligibility in Yahoo leagues.

Check out the full article here.

Expect steps in right direction, not leaps, from Flames’ new head coach

DALLAS, TX - NOVEMBER 21:  Head coach Glen Gulutzan of the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center on November 21, 2011 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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This is part of Calgary Flames day at PHT …

If you’re looking beyond the shaky history of Jack Adams winners and going for a more objective approach, it’s not especially easy to break down the impact of a head coach.

Still, we’ve seen examples where a guy really can make a difference. Mike Sullivan is merely the latest to transform a wobbly team into a champion thanks to some deft maneuvers.

What, then, can the Calgary Flames expect from Glen Gulutzan?

Let’s break down some of the factors involved.

Better goalies, more experienced players

As Flames Nation’s Pat Steinberg notes, Gulutzan’s most immediate advantage of fired Flames head coach Bob Hartley is that Calgary made massive improvements in net.

Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson both carry promising numbers into this situation. Elliott’s work with the St. Louis Blues, in particular, strikes you as All-Star-level.

Of course, some will attribute a significant portion of Elliott’s success to being in Ken Hitchcock’s system, so it’s up to Gulutzan to provide a more nurturing atmosphere than the one Flames goalies have experienced in recent years.

Modest improvements

Steinberg delved a little deeper than Gulutzan’s two Dallas Stars teams (2011-12 and 2012-13) missing the playoffs and found that they were a middle-of-the-pack squad from a possession standpoint. Nothing spectacular there, but Gulutzan did improve the Stars from its previous station.

Upon being hired, Gulutzan pointed to experience as much as anything else when explaining how he improved.

(Which makes sense since … the Vancouver Canucks didn’t exactly set the world on fire while he was an assistant.)

Solid match for personnel

“Possession has become a popular word,” Gulutzan said after the Flames chose him. “For me, what possession is, it’s not always having the puck, because you don’t have it all the time. What we want to be is a real connected group here. When I say connected, we want to be connected in fives in all three zones. We want to defend fast, we are going to defend fast. We’re going to utilize the assets that we have here. In defending fast, you want to get the puck back fast, you want to get it out of your end.”

That quote could probably be attributed to a number of new hires. It’s plausible that you could swap out Gulutzan’s name with that of Colorado Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar.

Even so, the important thing is that Gulutzan is emphasizing key elements of a modern approach. He’s saying the right things about puck possession and wanting to win the transition game.

When you look at the talent assembled in Calgary, particularly on defense, emphasizing speed almost seems obvious.

From Norris-caliber defenseman Mark Giordano to underrated blueliner T.J. Brodie all the way to the talented guys who could use a boost (Dougie Hamilton especially, perhaps Dennis Wideman as well?), the Flames’ defense seems best suited for an attacking style.

The potential drawback is that Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson could be exposed to some extra “high-danger chances” when an attacking style backfires … but the good might outweigh the bad if Gulutzan’s system can stop the possession bleeding.

Tipping point?

The dream scenario for Calgary is that a series of manageable improvements make for a cumulative jump.

Ideally, Gulutzan’s system combines with in-house improvements to young players with a vastly improved set of goalies to transform the Flames into playoff contenders.

In the limited sample size we’ve seen of Calgary’s new head coach, he doesn’t necessarily strike you as a miracle worker. Instead, he’s lauded for the structure he provides and his ability to communicate.

That might be enough for the Flames, especially if they give Gulutzan some time to work through growing pains.