UFA of the Day: Mike Green

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Check PHT every day until June 30 for a new pending unrestricted free agent of the day. Today’s UFA of the Day is…

Mike Green

Leaving Washington isn’t what he wants to do; however, it was reported last week that that’s what he’ll probably do.

Green is coming off a productive season with the Caps, one in which the 29-year-old defenseman finished with 10 goals and 35 assists. Also notable was his ice time. He averaged just 19:06, considerably less than the 22:44 he logged in 2013-14, before Washington signed Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik.

There’s reason to believe his first choice will be a team with a reasonable shot at winning a championship, something he failed to do in seven postseason appearances with the Caps.

“I want to win the Cup,” he said in May. “It’s not about money.”

The challenge he’ll face is finding a contender with both the need and the cap space.

“I think players of Mike’s ability, age, productivity, right shot, all of the positive things that Mike does on the ice is very rare when they get to unrestricted free agency,” his agent, Craig Oster, told the Washington Post.

Detroit has long been rumored as a potential landing spot. However, it’s worth noting that, in February, Red Wings GM Ken Holland said that adding a right-shot d-man for the power play no longer seemed necessary, given his team was doing just fine with the man advantage. Also, it was Mike Babcock who pushed Holland the hardest for more right-shot defensemen, and you may have heard he’s not there anymore.

If not Detroit, who might take a run at Green?

One team that may make sense is Anaheim. The Ducks are coached by Bruce Boudreau, who knows Green well from their time together in Washington. The Ducks also struggled on the power play last season, finishing 28th in the league. Plus, they cleared some cap space by trading James Wisniewski.

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UFA of the Day: Chris Stewart

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Check PHT every day until June 30 for a new pending unrestricted free agent of the day. Today’s UFA of the Day is…

Chris Stewart

After mid-season trades in each of the last two seasons, Chris Stewart appears to have found a fit in Minnesota.

The 27-year-old was dealt to the Wild by the Buffalo Sabres on March 2 and appeared in 20 regular season games for Minny scoring three goals and eight assists to go along with 25 penalty minutes and a plus-4 rating.

He added two assists in eight playoff games.

Stewart’s two-year, $8.3 million deal is set to expire on Wednesday making him an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career. However, he doesn’t seem too interested in testing the market.

“Hopefully there’s an opportunity for me to come back here,” Stewart said during the Wild’s locker clean out day in May. “Me and the family both enjoyed our time here. Thought the fit was perfect. It’s a good group of guys here. I think the future’s definitely bright here.”

The Wild currently have nine forwards under contract for the 2015-16 season with around $7.9 million of cap space to play with, according to Generalfanager.com.

Stewart had 28 goals in back-to-back seasons in 2009-10 and 2010-11, but since then has scored more than 15 goals just once (18 in 2012-13).

Just how much Stewart enjoyed his time in Minnesota will be known in the coming days.

The 6-foot-2, 228-pound forward, who was originally a first-round selection of the Colorado Avalanche in 2006 (18th overall), will likely need to give the Wild a “hometown” discount in order to remain in Minny.

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UFA of the Day: Antoine Vermette

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Check PHT every day until June 30 for a new pending unrestricted free agent of the day. Today’s UFA of the Day is…

Antoine Vermette

As of this writing the Blackhawks have roughly $63.3 million in salary committed for the 2015-16 season, according to Generalfanager.com.

Chicago has a little more than $8 million to play with and several holes to fill, which means pending unrestricted free agent Antoine Vermette is likely headed to the open market this Wednesday.

The 32-year-old’s five-year, $18.75 million deal, which carried a cap hit of $3.75 million expires on July 1. Vermette finished the 2014-15 season with 13 goals, 38 points and a minus-25 rating. He added four goals and three assists in 20 playoff games.

“Obviously,” said Vermette when asked if he’d like to return earlier this month. “You want to win. We’ve done that. That’s something we’re going to cherish for the rest of our life. It’s special.”

However, in order for the Blackhawks to bring him back, Vermette would likely need to take a pay cut on the $3.75 million annual average value his expiring deal carried.

“In this case, hopefully guys want to be a part of something special here. We’d love to bring guys back. It’ll be a challenge financially,” Blackhawks’ GM Stan Bowman said of his pending UFAs. “Obviously the desire for players is to win. That’s why they play. So there’s always a point — what is enough for them? And that’s something I can’t answer.

“But we know that all of our guys that have been here for a long time, they all sacrificed. They all took less money because they wanted to be part of something special. They probably all left money on the table. But I think if you talk to them , they’re pretty excited right now with the group they were part of, as opposed to getting every last nickel.”

In the end it could come down to who is more affordable between Vermette and Brad Richards for Bowman. It’s unlikely that the Blackhawks will be able to hang on to both given their current cap state.

“Decisions will be made,” said Vermette. “I don’t know what’s going to happen with this team.”

Related: UFA of the Day: Johnny Oduya

UFA of the Day: Cody Franson

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Check PHT every day until June 30 for a new pending unrestricted free agent of the day. Today’s UFA of the Day is…

Cody Franson

He set new career-highs in 2014-15 with seven goals and 36 points in 78 contests, which is in a way remarkable given how rough his reunion with Nashville went. The 27-year-old defenseman already had 32 points in 55 games with Toronto before he was sent to the Predators on Feb. 15 along with Mike Santorelli in exchange for Olli Jokinen, Brendan Leipsic, and what turned out to be the 24th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft (later traded to Philadelphia and used to draft Travis Konecny).

At the time, Nashville was leading the Presidents’ Trophy race and setting the stage for what it hoped would be a lengthy playoff run. Nashville struggled following the trade though and Franson was limited to just 15:25 minutes per contest after averaging 21:23 minutes in Toronto.

In retrospect, Predators GM David Poile felt Franson wasn’t a good fit and he consequently won’t be back for the 2015-16 campaign.

That shouldn’t sour other clubs towards him though as an offensive defenseman with a right-handed shot tends to draw attention. The British Columbia-native has shown an interest in Vancouver and also is hoping that Toronto wants him back.

Teams like the Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers, and San Jose Sharks might be in the mix as well.

UFA of the Day: Andrej Sekera

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Check PHT every day until June 30 for a new pending unrestricted free agent of the day. Today’s UFA of the Day is…

Andrej Sekera

The 29-year-old defenseman recorded 44 points with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2013-14, but that’s the only time he’s even reached the 30-point mark. He certainly didn’t come close to repeating that level of offensive success last season.

Which isn’t to say his campaign was bad. He still logged top-four minutes and looked good from an analytics perspective. He had a 54.2% five-on-five Corsi rating compared to his teams’ 51.1% when he was off the ice, which means that in terms of puck possession, an argument could be made that 2014-15 was one of his better seasons.

He started the 2014-15 campaign with the Hurricanes, but was shipped to Los Angeles on Feb. 25 in exchange for Roland McKeown and a 2016 first round pick. He made a good first impression with the Kings and they’ve shown interest in re-signing him.

He’s likely to get a significant raise after completing his four-year, $11 million deal, but the Kings might be able to accommodate him after they added their own suspension to Slava Voynov on top of the NHL’s, giving the team more certainty that he’ll be off the books next season.

If Los Angeles can’t re-sign him though, then Colorado’s quest for a left-handed defenseman might lead to Sekera, per the Denver Post.