Every postseason, pending free agents earn themselves an increased pay-day come July 1st. This spring has been no different. Here are a handful of players, who will soon become unrestricted free agents, that have helped (and hurt) their free agency stock thus far for the 2011 off-season. STOCK UP Sean Bergenheim, Tampa Bay
Stats: 11 GP, 7 G, 1 A, 8 Pts, +4
Sean Bergenheim has quietly provided solid depth for the upstart Lightning all year, but he has taken it to another level in his first ever postseason. The 27-year-old has scored some momentous goals (7 total), including the lone tally in Game 7 at Pittsburgh.
In his team’s current seven-game win streak, Bergenheim has scored six goals with a plus-5 rating. Bergenheim, who is making just $700,000, will definitely be getting a pay raise this summer… whether it’s with Tampa Bay or someone else.
Joel Ward, Nashville
Stats: 12 GP, 7 G, 6 A, 13 Pts, +4
Joel Ward has found a home in Nashville over the last three years, but put forth his lowest regular season goal total (10) in 2010-11. However, the 30-year-old was the Predators’ leading point-getter in the 2011 playoffs.
Ward was surprisingly a point-per-game player in 12 playoff games as he made up for underachieving forwards. He is a key piece of Barry Trotz’s ‘Predator Hockey’, but is no guarantee to return. There’s no doubt that Ward’s hard work on both sides of the puck raised some eyebrows this spring.
Eric Brewer, Tampa Bay
Stats: 11 GP, 1 G, 5 A, 6 Pts, +1
Another member of the Lightning has played really well this postseason, with free agency looming, is Eric Brewer. The trade deadline pickup has shouldered the load for the Bolts in 11 games. He has logged the most ice-time on the team at even strength, shorthanded and on the power play. He also leads the team in hits and blocked shots.
Brewer, 32, is a veteran defenseman that has likely earned himself a little bit more coin with his stellar playoff performance.
STOCK DOWN Tomas Kaberle, Boston
Stats: 11 GP, 0 G, 3 A, 3 Pts, +5
When the Boston Bruins acquired Tomas Kaberle in February, they supposedly had found the ‘missing ingredient’ on defense. Through 35 games as a Bruin, Kaberle has yet to show the superb puck-moving and offensive skills from the back end that everyone raved about when the trade was made.
Kaberle has especially been disappointing in the playoffs, gathering zero power play points. The former Leaf, who was the subject of endless trade rumors for the last three years, has seen his stock sink this postseason.
Ilya Bryzgalov, Phoenix
Stats: 4 GP, 0-4, 4.36 GAA, .879 SV%
With a Vezina-worthy 2009-10 campaign, along with a strong finish this season, Ilya Bryzgalov was expected to break the bank this summer. After back-to-back disappointing playoff showings, however, ‘Bryz’ has planted a seed of doubt into some teams looking for a netminder.
That doesn’t mean he won’t find a job; Bryzgalov is obviously solid enough to get a No. 1 gig in this league. However, the 30-year-old may see his price tag drop a bit due to his inconsistencies in big games.
Tim Connolly, Buffalo
Stats: 6 GP, 0 G, 2 A, 2 Pts, -2
Buffalo’s longest-tenured player had a disappointing playoff showing and is likely heading out of town this summer. Tim Connolly did get hurt in Game 6 against Philadelphia, but did have his chance to prove he could be a desired top-two line center. He failed to cash in on that opportunity.
Connolly picked up just two points in six games; it is especially unimpressive given that center Derek Roy didn’t play until Game 7. The injury-prone Connolly will be a risky signing for any team looking for help down the middle on July 1.
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