2016 UFA of the Day

UFA of the Day: David Perron

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Every day until June 30, we’ll write about a pending unrestricted free agent. Today’s UFA of the Day is…

David Perron

He’s already played for four teams, and that makes it easy to forget he’s only 28 years old. But he’s in the same age bracket as UFA wingers like Milan Lucic and Kyle Okposo, a couple of years younger than the likes of Loui Eriksson and Andrew Ladd.

In January, Perron was traded for the third time in his career. He went from Pittsburgh, where he struggled early this season, to Anaheim, where he got the “change of scenery” he apparently needed and scored an impressive eight goals in 28 games.

“He’s still a young guy,” said Ducks GM Bob Murray at the time of the acquisition. “He’s definitely been streaky, but he’s definitely skilled.”

Murray said recently that he’d like to re-sign Perron, but with the right to test the market, Perron might have other ideas. The Montreal Canadiens are reportedly interested in him, and that could be enticing for the Sherbrooke, Quebec, native.

A left-winger, Perron would make sense for the Habs. He could potentially play on the second line, behind first-line sniper Max Pacioretty.

Perron’s expiring contract had a cap hit of $3.8 million. His actual salary last year was $4.5 million.

Click here for all our 2016 UFA profiles.

UFA of the Day: Shane Doan


Every day until June 30, we’ll write about a pending unrestricted free agent. Today’s UFA of the Day is…

Shane Doan

Most of us thought he would’ve re-signed by now. Because that’s what Shane Doan does — no matter what, he stays loyal to the franchise that drafted him all the way back in 1995, when it was still in Winnipeg.

But he hasn’t re-signed yet, so what’s the deal?

“Negotiations continue,” GM John Chayka told Arizona Sports. “There are just a lot of balls in the air with our entire team; a lot of liquidity in our market. Once we get a little more clarity on where everything fits then it makes it a lot easier to get Shane in the right spot.”

Suffice to say, Doan used to be more of a priority for the Coyotes. It didn’t matter if there were “a lot of balls in the air.” (When are there not with this franchise?) He was their captain, and it was important for their credibility when he chose to re-sign in 2012.

Of course, a big difference now is that he’s 39 years old, turning 40 in October. He can still play; he had 28 goals last season. But he’s a lot closer to the end of his career.

Another big difference is the general manager. It’s no longer Don Maloney, who just last year said that Doan “will stay with us as long as he wants to stay with us.” Now it’s Chayka and Dave Tippett running the show. Perhaps they see the situation differently.

Doan has said in the past that he’s not really interested in pursuing a Stanley Cup anywhere but Arizona, but if it gets to Friday and he’s free to test the market, you have to wonder if he might.

Click here for all our 2016 UFA profiles.

UFA of the Day: Frans Nielsen


Every day until June 30, we’ll write about a pending unrestricted free agent. Today’s UFA of the Day is…

Frans Nielsen

There’s still a decent chance that he re-signs with the Islanders. Nielsen’s first choice is to stay, and the Isles have been negotiating with him, so they obviously want to keep him.

It’s all about money and term now, as Newsday’s Arthur Staple explains:

A report Monday indicated Nielsen had turned down an Islander contract offer worth $5.5 million per season. Sources had indicated in the past week that the two sides had moved closer on a deal, one that was likely to be six or seven years in length to keep the average annual value below that $5.5 million number and keep Nielsen in an Islander uniform for the rest of his NHL career.

Things change daily, even hourly, when it comes to the free-agent frenzy, so one side or the other could have altered their stance. But last I heard, $5.5 million per was not the right number and the sides were closer on a deal.

You can’t blame Nielsen for wanting to cash in. He’s 32 now, his last chance to really hit it big in free agency. His expiring contract — a four-year, $11 million deal — gave the Isles incredible value for one of the most underrated two-way centers in the league.

Of course, you also can’t blame the Isles for being cautious. Again, he’s 32 now. You can do the math if he re-signs for six of seven years. Plus, they’ve got 19-year-old center Mathew Barzal in the pipeline, and they’ve got to re-sign John Tavares in a couple of years.

If Nielsen decides to test the market, they’re already talking about him in Detroit as a Plan B to Steven Stamkos. So it may be he has to wait and see who lands the biggest fish before he signs anywhere.

Also, keep an eye on the Minnesota Wild. They could use a center. It’s why they were linked to Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in trade speculation. Signing a free agent instead would mean they wouldn’t have to lose one of their good, young defensemen.

Click here for all our 2016 UFA profiles.

UFA of the Day: Michael Grabner


Every day until June 30, we’ll write about a pending unrestricted free agent. Today’s UFA of the Day is…

Michael Grabner

We wrote yesterday about a speedy forward in Darren Helm. Well, here’s another one. Grabner is one of the fastest skaters in the NHL. And at 28 years old, he’s still got his wheels.

What he hasn’t had the past few seasons is much success scoring. Just nine goals in 80 games in 2015-16 for the Maple Leafs. In reality, he hasn’t been much of a threat since 2010-11 and 2011-12, when he scored 34 and 20 times, respectively, for the Islanders.

On the bright side, at least he managed to stay healthy last year. That should help his cause when he goes to market, after injuries piled up during the end of his time with the Isles. So too should his 12 career shorthanded goals, the 25th most among active NHLers, tied with Ryan Kesler.

“He’s really good on our PK and that’s been a big part of our success there as of late,” Leafs coach Mike Babcock said in November. “He’s a leader in that area, he understands what needs to be done and has done a real nice job for us.”

Toronto, despite finishing with the worst record in the NHL, had the 13th-best penalty killing.

According to the New York Post, the Rangers are expected to be in contact with Grabner about a new deal. Their PK ranked 26th last season, and management may feel more speed could held solve their puck-moving issues.

Grabner’s expiring contract was for five years with a cap hit of $3 million.

Click here for all our 2016 UFA profiles.

UFA of the Day: Darren Helm

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Every day until June 30, we’ll write about a pending unrestricted free agent. Today’s UFA of the Day is…

Darren Helm

For the first time in his career, Darren Helm could become an unrestricted free agent.

At the age of 29, Helm is coming off a regular season in which he scored 13 goals and 26 points in 77 games. In training camp, he suffered a shoulder injury and a concussion after colliding with prospect Jerome Verrier, so his season didn’t get off to the greatest start.

(He’s also dealt with back issues in the past.)

He then had one goal in five playoff contests, before the Detroit Red Wings were eliminated in the first round.

Overall point production has never been what Helm is about. He hit single-season career highs for goals (15) and points (33) during the 2014-15 campaign.

Instead, he’s known for his speed. He also used on the penalty kill (1:48 per game on the kill) and power play (0:43 per game with the advantage), and can play center and the wing.

But it seems he has questions about how he is best used within the organization’s group of forwards under head coach Jeff Blashill, who took over behind the Detroit bench when Mike Babcock left for Toronto. (Remember, Babcock once referred to Helm as a “top-four forward.”)

“It was definitely a different year for myself,” said Helm, as per the Detroit Free Press. “I’ll need to talk to Blash and (GM Ken Holland) and see where everything is headed, see where I see myself fitting into this organization and where they see me fitting into this organization. Then I’ll have to make some tough decisions.

“I want to win. I don’t really mind playing in the bottom lines as long as there is that respect factor. You’re getting opportunities in different situations. If it looks like that is the case, I’ll get to play in those situations that I feel I can play in, then I’ll be happy. If not, if they tell me right away it’s not going to happen, I might not want to stay.”

As per General Fanager, Helm’s last contract, a four-year deal, had an annual cap hit of $2.125 million.

He’s one of four pending UFAs from the Red Wings roster this season — Brad Richards, Drew Miller and Kyle Quincey being the others. The Red Wings could also go after pending UFA Steven Stamkos, especially after freeing up cap space by unloading Pavel Datsyuk’s contract at the draft.

Speed could be Helm’s most attractive asset, especially after what occurred in the playoffs, if he does go to free agency.

The Pittsburgh Penguins seemed to overwhelm opposing teams with their speed during their run to the Stanley Cup, and Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan saying he thought his team struggled at times against quicker opponents.

And as per the Detroit Free Press, the Capitals, as well as the St. Louis Blues, would be among the suitors for Helm this summer.

Click here for all our 2016 UFA profiles.