There’s always next year: Top restricted free agents for 2012

Earlier today, we took a look at the best players who might become available via unrestricted free agency in 2012. From a dreaded lockout to re-signings and retirement, there are a lot of things that can happen between today and July 1, 2012. That being said, it’s still fun to forecast free agency next year. If nothing else, it gives us an interesting sneak preview for some of the storylines that could shape much of the talk during the 2011-12 season.

To complete the picture, we thought it would be wise to take a look at the best restricted free agents as well. Naturally, these players are even less likely to become available to other NHL teams, but crazier things have happened.

We’ll go position-by-position with the potential RFAs. A player’s expiring cap hit is in parentheses.

source: APTop potential RFA forwards for 2012 (complete list)

David Krejci ($3.75 million)
John Tavares ($3.75M)
Matt Duchene ($3.75M)
Logan Couture ($1.24M)
Chris Stewart ($2.88M)
Kris Versteeg ($3.08M)
T.J. Oshie ($2.35M)
James Van Riemsdyk ($1.65)
James Neal ($2.88M)
Mason Raymond ($2.55M)
Evander Kane ($3.1M)
David Perron ($2.15M)
Steve Downie ($1.85M)
Sergei Kostitsyn ($2.5M)

Other notables: Wojtek Wolski, Peter Mueller and Eric Fehr.

source: APTop potential RFA defensemen for 2012 (complete list)

Mike Green ($5.25M)
Tyler Myers ($1.3M)
Victor Hedman ($3.5M)
Erik Johnson ($2.6M)
P.K. Subban ($875K)
Kyle Quincey ($3.13M)
Erik Karlsson ($1.3M)
Alex Goligoski ($1.83M)
Dmitri Kulikov ($1.33M)
Mike Del Zotto ($1.1M)

Other notables: Cam Barker, Matt Niskanen and Thomas Hickey.

Top potential RFA goalies for 2012 (complete list)

Carey Price ($2.75M)
Tuukka Rask ($1.25M)
Ondrej Pavelec ($1.15M)
Corey Schneider ($900K)
Anders Lindback ($875K)

Other notables: Jussi Rynnas, Mikko Koskinen, Devan Dubnyk, Ben Bishop and Leland Irving.

source: Getty ImagesComments:

However their teams handle these situations, there are a quite a few interesting potential storylines to be found in this group.

There are a few players who should receive some hearty raises. James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Myers and P.K. Subban might not be bargains much longer, especially if they follow their career trajectories and rank as crucial members of their respective teams. That could be an especially big problem for the Sabres and Flyers since it appears both franchises are going to test the salary cap ceiling’s limits.

The goalies could make things interesting as well. Price justified Montreal’s gamble to part ways with Jaroslav Halak last season; if he matches those efforts in 2011-12 he should be in line for a hearty check. Pavelec needs to prove he’s the goalie of the future in Winnipeg (the jury’s out on that one). Meanwhile, Rask and Schneider are two backups who could be seen as future starters while Lindback might be a few seasons away from getting a legit shot.

Video: Calls go Penguins’ way early in Game 1; own goal plagues Predators

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However you feel about the context of each call, it’s tough to deny that some big decisions ended up going favorably early for the Pittsburgh Penguins against the Nashville Predators in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

To start, a would-be 1-0 goal by P.K. Subban was waved off thanks to Filip Forsberg being deemed offside. More on that here.

In a rare span, the Predators were whistled for two penalties during the same sequence in the first period, giving the Penguins a 5-on-3 advantage for a full two minutes. Pittsburgh started off the advantage a little rocky, but then Evgeni Malkin made it 1-0. (Video of that tally in the headline above.)

The controversy comes as Sidney Crosby seemed to get away with interference/elbow shortly before that goal was scored. That sequence will feed a conspiracy theory or two.

The Predators have managed to avoid tough stretches for much of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but things seemed to really escalate from there. The Penguins managed three goals in a staggering 4:11 of game time, with Nick Bonino putting a puck off Mattias Ekholm for a painful own goal, making it 3-0 as the first period concluded.

The Penguins seemed to take control of the game after that disallowed goal, adding to the argument that some combination of the decision and the slowdown helped turn the tide.

How will the Predators respond to this adversity in Game 1? Find out on NBC and via the stream below.

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Subban goal waved off hours after Bettman defends offside challenges

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The Nashville Predators were controlling the play early in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, showing little concern for the big stage of Game 1. It looked like that early edge would come with the reward of a P.K. Subban 1-0 goal.

(Subban had to feel that much more satisfied as he was being booed early and often by Penguins fans in Pittsburgh.)

But, alas, the dreaded goal review negated such a goal, as it was determined that Filip Forsberg was offside. You can watch the process in the video above, while this is a GIF of the moment in question.

As a reminder, Gary Bettman said all the right things about reviews working “exactly as they are intended to” mere hours ago, even as snarky folks make snarky jokes about a rapid contest being interrupted by replays that … might not entertain everyone.

Whether the NHL likes it or not, this will be a talking point for many.

Updated Stanley Cup Final lineups: Carl Hagelin, Colin Wilson out in Game 1

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PHT provided early looks at what the Nashville Predators’ and Pittsburgh Penguins’ lineups might look like, and those viewpoints ended up being mostly correct.

That’s especially true when it comes to the Penguins. As expected, Carl Hagelin will not suit up for the Penguins in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. Patric Hornqvist indeed returns while Jake Guentzel avoids a healthy scratch.

Here’s the lines that Pittsburgh listed on Twitter:

The Predators provide a surprise, however, as Colin Wilson is not in the mix. Instead, the Predators will have Craig Smith and Mike Fisher in the lineup.

Game 1 is just minutes from beginning. Check it out on NBC or stream it via the link below.

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Daly addresses Voynov potentially returning to Kings

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An interesting development on Monday, prior to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final — following Gary Bettman’s state of the league address, deputy commissioner Bill Daly was asked about the possibility of former Kings d-man Slava Voynov returning to the NHL.

Voynov hasn’t played in L.A. since the ’14-15 campaign, when he was suspended indefinitely while facing domestic violence charges.

“If that was ever something that was proposed, we’re on record as saying that would require a proceeding before the commissioner,” Daly said, when asked about Voynov’s possible return.

When asked if Voynov had “served his time,” Daly offered the following:

“Ultimately that’s not my decision, that’ll be Gary’s decision.

“I don’t want to speculate either on what that might be. I’ve heard from time to time that he might have an interest in coming back to the National Hockey League, but that hasn’t advanced in any material way to this point.

“So let’s wait and see if it happens.”

The Voynov topic arose when a reporter asked Daly about the league’s stance, on the understanding that “at one point, the Kings were considering trying to bring [Voynov] back.”

That came on the heels of a report from John Hoven of Mayor’s Manor, who said Kings management and scouts had seen Voynov play “multiple times” this season.

In July of 2015, Voynov pleaded no contest to a reduced misdemeanor charge and was sentenced to 90 days in jail. Months later, he returned to his native Russia and signed a three-year pact with SKA Saint Petersburg.

The move freed L.A. from Voynov’s $4.16 million average annual cap hit. Per The OC Register, Voynov’s decision to “self-depart” the U.S. may have kept the door open for a return to North America at some point in the future.

In October, Team Russia tried to include Voynov on its active roster for the World Cup of Hockey, claiming it was in negotiations with the league on the matter. The NHL eventually ruled him ineligible — “our position was the NHL suspension disqualified him,” Daly explained — and he was eventually replaced by Bolts blueliner Nikita Nesterov.