The Stanley Cup hasn’t yet been awarded to the bearded captain of the winning team, but we’re already looking ahead to the forthcoming silly season. Here’s a quick look at a six-pack of players scheduled to become free agents this summer:
If we include the postseason, Iginla recorded 27 points in 28 games as a member of the Penguins and in doing so proved two things. Firstly, he’s not the dominant force he was as a member of the Flames during his prime years, but also he has more left in the tank than people believed after watching him struggle through 31 games in Calgary, scoring only nine times. Even if he has become a complementary player at this stage of his career, one would expect a few Stanley Cup hopeful teams to covet a goal-scoring winger with his track record. From a fantasy perspective, his value entering next year will be heavily dependent on whether he joins a team that uses him on their top power play unit, where he should rack up the bulk of his production.
It’s hard to believe Ribeiro is now 33 years old and will be considered by many to be entering the downside of his career, especially after the season he enjoyed in Washington this year. Playing with Alex Ovechkin certainly didn’t hurt, but Ribeiro proved his ability to run a power play and thus proved to be a wise acquisition by the Capitals. The former Canadien’s main strengths – passing and puck handling – are not ones we expect to erode quickly with age, so a team somewhere will be willing to offer a long-term pact, especially considering the scarce supply of playmaking centers available in the league. There should have no shortage of teams interested in his services, despite his poor playoff showing this spring.
Another player hoping to capitalize on the dearth of centers around the league, Roy signaled his intention to test the free agent market by not signing a long-term deal with the Stars this year, a decision that ended with him being shipped to Vancouver for the stretch run and postseason. Most summers, the former Sabre would be part of the second tier of free agents on the market, but he’s actually one of the top commodities in this year’s weak class of available players.
One type of player that may be in even shorter supply than a skilled centerman is a power forward in the mold of David Clarkson. The 29-year-old currently stands as the odds-on favorite to win the “He got how much?” award this summer. The number of teams trying to increase the grit and toughness quotient on their roster will be through the roof, as it is seemingly every summer. From a fantasy standpoint, it will be interesting to see where Clarkson lands, as the better the team he chooses, the less likely it is he’ll be given the offensive responsibilities he was afforded with the Devils.
Elias is the other key member of the Devils scheduled to hit free agency this summer, but he’s separated by the fact he may actually re-sign with the club. Having played his entire 16-year NHL career with New Jersey, the team might get lucky and find the Czech forward willing to offer them something of a loyalty discount, something they’re not expecting from Clarkson. For his part, Elias has been remarkably consistent throughout his career and has remained impressively productive of late, most recently tallying 36 points in 48 games during the shortened season after posting 78 in 2011-12. While he would be a welcome addition to any team looking to win soon, whoever wins the Elias sweepstakes will probably have overpaid in the process.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say Bozak exceeded all expectations with his play for the Maple Leafs this season, acting as the de-facto number one center on a team admittedly lacking stars up the middle. Bozak and his agent have no further to look than the Maple Leafs roster for a comparable as Mikhail Grabovski’s five year, $27.5 million dollar deal will likely be the template for his contract demands. It’s hard to believe Toronto will be willing to meet such a request for a player who’s really no more than a second-liner so it would be a shock if the faceoff specialist didn’t find himself wearing another team’s colors next season.