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Posted by Ryan Porth Labels: 2011 Free Agent Frenzy
We are just hours away from the flood gates opening to Frenzy 2011! Where will the Top 50 free agents sign in the next handful of days/weeks?
1. Brad Richards, C
Richards is obviously the biggest prize to be had in free agency. Everyone thinks he’s going to the Rangers… which means he won’t sign there, right? With there being so many suitors, he could land somewhere we’re not expecting.
Keep an eye on: Buffalo, Detroit, Montreal, NY Rangers, Tampa Bay, Toronto
Prediction: Toronto Maple Leafs (7 years, $56 million)
2. Tomas Vokoun, G
With Ilya Bryzgalov already signed, Vokoun will be most sought after goalie when the frenzy begins. There are only a handful of possible landing spots. I’d be surprised if he returned to Florida.
Keep an eye on: Colorado, Edmonton, Florida, Phoenix
Prediction: Colorado Avalanche (3 years, $15.75 million)
3. Christian Ehrhoff, D
Ehrhoff had his negotiating rights dealt to the Isles, then to the Sabres, in a span of days. (Talks didn’t go well with the Isles.) He is the best puck-moving defenseman available and is seeking upwards of $5 million per year.
Keep an eye on: Buffalo, Columbus, Detroit, NY Islanders, NY Rangers
Prediction: Detroit Red Wings (6 years, $33 million)
4. Tomas Kaberle, D
Though Kaberle’s stock dropped a bit during the playoffs, he could end up being the top UFA defenseman available if Ehrhoff and Wisniewski sign with the teams their negotiating rights were traded to.
Keep an eye on: Buffalo, Boston, Detroit, Columbus, NY Rangers
Prediction: New York Rangers (4 years, $21 million)
5. James Wisniewski, D
Wisniewski had his negotiating rights dealt to Columbus from Montreal yesterday. The Jackets are serious about becoming a playoff contender; will Wisniewski budge? If he tests the waters, there will be plenty of interest in him.
Keep an eye on: Boston, Columbus, Detroit, NY Rangers, St. Louis
Prediction: Columbus Blue Jackets (5 years, $26.25 million)
Keep an eye on: Chicago, Los Angeles, Montreal, Philadelphia, Toronto
Prediction: Chicago Blackhawks (3 years, $11.25 million)
8. Simon Gagne, LW
Gagne came on strong at the end of the year and proved he can still perform at a high level. He is still 31 years old and can give teams a couple solid seasons of 20-30 goals. Would he go to L.A. and reunite with Mike Richards?
Keep an eye on: Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Montreal, NY Rangers, Tampa Bay
Prediction: Los Angeles Kings (2 years, $8 million)
9. Tomas Fleischmann, LW
Fleischmann is an intriguing player on the market. He missed half the year with pulmonary emboli, but seems to be healthy. In 22 games with the Avs, ‘Flash’ had 21 points. Additionally, he can play both the wing and pivot (though better suited for LW).
Keep an eye on: Colorado, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Toronto
Prediction: Detroit Red Wings (3 years, $10.5 million)
10. Teemu Selanne, RW
It’s either Anaheim or retirement for the future Hall of Famer… unless Winnipeg offers Selanne an offer he can’t pass up. He has too much skill left to retire.
Keep an eye on: Anaheim, Retirement
Prediction: Anaheim Ducks (1 year, $4 million)
11. Michael Ryder, RW
Any team looking for a scoring winger will probably turn to Ryder, who will come at a cheaper price than, say, Jokinen, Leino and Gagne. The 31-year-old has four 20-plus goal (two 30-goal) seasons of his seven in the NHL.
Keep an eye on: Boston, Dallas, Florida, Nashville, Ottawa, Tampa Bay
Prediction: Nashville Predators (3 years, $9 million)
12. Sean Bergenheim, LW
Bergenheim had a coming-out-party/breakout season of sorts with the Lightning – and that’s not including his killer postseason. He’s probably the best third-liner available. The Sabres’ third line could use a boost.
Keep an eye on: Anaheim, Buffalo, Detroit, San Jose, Tampa Bay, Vancouver
Prediction: Buffalo Sabres (4 years, $12 million)
Prediction: Phoenix Coyotes (3 years, $8.4 million)
14. Erik Cole, LW
Cole has been uber-successful in Carolina, but his 2008 struggles in Edmonton can’t go totally ignored. Cole scored 26 goals (and 9 game-winners) for the ‘Canes last season. Will he head to Philly to rejoin Peter Laviolette?
Keep an eye on: Carolina, Colorado, Dallas, Los Angeles, Philadelphia
Prediction: Philadelphia Flyers (3 years, $9 million)
15. Ian White, D
White donned three different jerseys last year, but played his best while in San Jose. There will be an abundance of suitors for White, who is a cheaper option than the names at the top of the list.
Keep an eye on: Colorado, Columbus, Minnesota, NY Rangers, San Jose, St. Louis
Prediction: Minnesota Wild (3 years, $9 million)
16. Tim Connolly, C
The oft-injured Connolly has missed 190 games due to injury since the lockout. When healthy, he has proven to be useful and productive. Who will take the risk on Connolly? Maybe Dallas, a team that needs a second-line pivot.
Keep an eye on: Carolina, Dallas, Florida, Ottawa, Winnipeg
Prediction: Dallas Stars (2 years, $6.5 million)
17. Radim Vrbata, RW
Vrbata is an underrated name on the market this summer. He’d be a nice addition to any second or third line. In the end, he’s played his best hockey in Phoenix and I think he returns after testing the waters.
Keep an eye on: Dallas, Florida, Nashville, Ottawa, Phoenix, Tampa Bay
Prediction: Phoenix Coyotes (3 years, $8.25 million)
18. *Tyler Kennedy, C/W
Surprisingly, the Penguins opted not to give Kennedy a qualifying offer. Between his age (24) and coming off a 45-point season, he’ll be pursued and may get paid better than he should. If he doesn’t go back to Pittsburgh, San Jose is an intriguing destination.
Keep an eye on: Buffalo, Carolina, Nashville, Pittsburgh, San Jose, Winnipeg
Prediction: Pittsburgh Penguins (3 years, $6 million)
19. Ed Jovanovski, D
It doesn’t look like ‘Jovo’ will be going back to Phoenix. He shouldn’t be paid like a top-notch D-man, but can still be handy on the back end. Near the end of his career, will he go to a contender?
Keep an eye on: Chicago, Detroit, Florida, New Jersey, Philadelphia
Prediction: Detroit Red Wings (1 year, $2.5 million)
20. Chris Higgins, LW
Higgins is a useful, versatile winger that could help any team. He should be able to succeed if he can get settled in one place.
Keep an eye on: Buffalo, Carolina, Nashville, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Vancouver
Prediction: Nashville Predators (2 years, $3.5 million)
21. Bryan McCabe, D
McCabe, 36, doesn’t have much left in the tank and, like Jovanovski, could hold out to head to a Cup contender.
Keep an eye on: Boston, Colorado, Dallas, Detroit, New Jersey
Prediction: Boston Bruins (1 year, $2 million)
22. Jason Arnott, C
Arnott has lost a step and will be 37 years old in October. That won’t keep a team from grabbing him for depth down the middle and added leadership.
Keep an eye on: Chicago, Dallas, Winnipeg, Retirement
Prediction: Chicago Blackhawks (1 year, $2.25 million)
23. Anton Babchuk, D
Teams that miss out on some of the top names may be able to turn to Babchuk and get similar production. His rocket slap-shot is useful on the power play.
Keep an eye on: Calgary, Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota, New Jersey
Prediction: New Jersey Devils (2 years, $4.5 million)
24. Max Talbot, C
It looks as if Pittsburgh will let Talbot walk. The 27-year-old will be sought after as he’s one of the best options as far as third-line centers go.
Keep an eye on: Anaheim, Montreal, San Jose, St. Louis, Toronto
Prediction: Toronto Maple Leafs (4 years, $9 million)
25. Eric Belanger, C
Another third-line center that will be desired by teams during the frenzy is Belanger. He’s put together a very solid, consistent career.
Keep an eye on: Anaheim, Carolina, San Jose, St. Louis, Toronto
Prediction: San Jose Sharks (2 years, $4.5 million)
Some other notables…
*Niclas Bergfors, RW… KHL
Andrew Brunette, LW… Minnesota Wild
*Matt D’Agostini, RW… Anaheim Ducks
Chris Drury, C… St. Louis Blues
Ray Emery, G… Carolina Hurricanes
Jonathan Ericsson, D… Minnesota Wild
Vernon Fiddler, C… Edmonton Oilers
Alexander Frolov, LW… KHL
J.S. Giguere, G… Detroit Red Wings
Roman Hamrlik, D… Buffalo Sabres
Scott Hannan, D… Florida Panthers
Josh Harding, G… New Jersey Devils
Jamie Langenbrunner, RW… San Jose Sharks
Antti Miettinen, RW… Florida Panthers
Steve Montador, D… Chicago Blackhawks
Brendan Morrison, C… Winnipeg Jets
Vaclav Prospal, C/W… Ottawa Senators
Sami Salo, D… Vancouver Canucks
Mike Smith, G… Tampa Bay Lightning
Cory Stillman, LW… New York Rangers
Steve Sullivan, LW… Carolina Hurricanes
Jose Theodore, G… Columbus Blue Jackets
Raffi Torres, LW… Anaheim Ducks
Scottie Upshall, RW… Los Angeles Kings
Nikolay Zherdev, RW… Ottawa Senators
*RFA’s without qualifying offers
Coverage of the frenzy in the U.S. will be from 12-5 PM ET on NHL Network and NHL.com
Note: All predictions final as of June 30th at 11:00 p.m. cst
Photos credit: Getty Images / RLD Illustration
at 11:00 AM
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