The most recent listings of this summer’s best available NHL unrestricted free agents.
NHL.COM: On Friday, Dan Rosen published his updated listing of the top NHL players still available via unrestricted free agency in alphabetical order by defense and forward. Among the notable forwards are Brad Boyes, Eric Fehr, Curtis Glencross and Alexander Semin, as well as defensemen Cody Franson, Johnny Oduya and Marek Zidlicky.
SPORTSNET: Luke Fox released his ranking on Friday of the top 14 available UFAs. Cody Franson, Christian Ehrhoff, Johnny Oduya and Alexander Semin ranked in the top fix, while Curtis Glencross was number 6.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chris Stewart ranked fifth but he’s since been signed by the Anaheim Ducks.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: On Thursday, Matt Larkin published his list of the top-10 available UFAs. Franson, Oduya, Semin, Ehrhoff and Fehr ranked in his top five.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL: James Mirtle also released his listing on Thursday, listing Franson, Ehrhoff, Jiri Tlusty, Fehr, Oduya, Boyes, Glencross and Tomas Fleischmann among his notables still unsigned.
Mirtle also examined why so many UFAs remain unsigned entering mid-July. While a number of teams appear to have sufficient salary cap space, he points out many of them either require that money to re-sign key restricted free agents or are under lower self-imposed cap ceilings. Mirtle cites an NHL executive saying the remaining UFAs should be desperate. “The money’s gone.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m not surprised by how the UFA market has slowed since July 1. The combination of limited free-agent depth and the marginal increase in the salary cap is largely to blame. Players hoping for big paydays this summer are having to accept considerably less. Chris Stewart is a prime example. He earned $4.2 million last season but his new contract with the Anaheim Ducks (one year, $1.7 million) is a considerable pay cut.
So, of the remaining UFAs, where’s the best homes for them? The New Jersey Devils, Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens were among last season’s lowest-scoring clubs, so perhaps they look at forwards like Semin, Tlusty or Boyes to bolster their offensive depth. The Vancouver Canucks, New York Rangers and Florida Panthers were among the bottom third in faceoff percentage. Maybe they’ll try to land Fehr for an affordable short-term deal. The Buffalo Sabres and Colorado Avalanche were horrible on the power play last season, so a puck-moving defenseman like Cody Franson might interest them for the right price.