NHL Free Agent Frenzy Preview: The Forwards

By
Updated: July 4, 2013
Jarome Iginla

Earlier in the week, I started my look into the NHL’s free agent market with a look at the top goaltenders available.  Yesterday I took a look at the top defencemen available.  Today I move on and look at the forwards.   Its quite clear when looking at the three groups that the most desirable group is the forwards.  With the cap dropping, and some teams hit by the crunch, there are some nice pieces out on the market.

Notes:  Vincent Lecavalier has already made his intentions known, and will sign a contract with the Philadelphia Flyers.  Daniel Alfredsson is all but guaranteed to return to Ottawa.  Teemu Selanne is likely to either retire or return to the Anaheim Ducks. As a result these three players were not included in the rankings.

 

1) Jarome Iginla, Pittsburgh Penguins
2012-13 Salary (before being pro-rated): $7 million  Cap Hit $7 million
2012-13 Stats: 44 GP, 14 G, 19 A, 33 PTS, 31 PIMs, -5

The prize of the NHL’s trade deadline crop, becomes the prize of NHL free agency.  Iginla may not be the same the same player he was 3 or 4 years ago, and he’s certainly lost a step, but he still has great hands, and a fantastic shot.  Iginla is a natural leader, who can put up points, play a gritty game at both ends and is willing to do anything to win.

 

2) Mike Ribeiro, Washington Capitals
2012-13 Salary (before being pro-rated): $5 million  Cap Hit $5 million
2012-13 Stats: 48 GP, 13 G, 36 A, 49 PTS, 53 PIMs, -4

Ribeiro is criticized for being soft, or for diving, or for his attitude, but the fact of the matter is that the slick centre just scores points.  He was more than a point per game player with the Capitals this seaosn.  Ribeiro has great vision, and outstanding passing skills.  His stickhandling gives him the ability to slow the play down, and set up plays for teammates.  He can be a real offensive weapon for his new club.

 

3) Nathan Horton, Boston Bruins
2012-13 Salary (before being pro-rated): $5.5 million  Cap Hit $4 million
2012-13 Stats: 43 GP, 13 G, 9 A, 22 PTS, 22 PIMs, +1

A hard nosed, big body power winger.  Horton scores goals with a hard wrister and taking his position in front of the net.  He was a big part of Boston’s 2011 Cup run, as he scored series winning goals in game 7 vs Montreal, and game 7 vs Tampa Bay.  This year he played a big role in the Bruins march to the Cup final again.

 

4) David Clarkson, New Jersey Devils
2012-13 Salary (before being pro-rated): $3 million Cap Hit $2.667 million
2012-13 Stats: 48 GP, 15 G, 9 A, 24 PTS, 78 PIMs, -6

Clarkson was once known as a goon, but has become a valuable contributor who is able to play a top 6 role.  He scored 30 goals in 2011-12 and another 15 in the lockout shortened season.  Clarkson plays a physical game and is physical on the forecheck.  He gets his goals by getting to the front of the net for tip-ins, deflections and rebounds.  He may not get huge assist totals, but he’s valuable screening goalies and that can help as much as any pass.
Clarkson still drops the gloves, and can stick up for his teammates, and be competitive in a matchup against most other players in the league.

 

5) Michael Ryder, Montreal Canadiens,
2012-13 Salary (before being pro-rated): $3.5 million Cap Hit $3.5 million
2012-13 Stats: 46 GP, 16 G, 19 A, 35 PTS, 16 PIMs, +2

Ryder is a pure sniper.  He just knows how to score goals with a great wrist shot and a quick release.  He also is underrated as a passer, as he can make plays for teammates as well.  His best work is done on the powerplay, where he can be a big boost to any team that acquires him.  Ryder can sometimes have defensive issues though they are not as bad as earlier in his career.

 

6) Derek Roy, Vancouver Canucks
2012-13 Salary (before being pro-rated): $5.5 million Cap Hit $4 million
2012-13 Stats: 42 GP, 7 G, 21 A, 28 PTS, 6 PIMs, +4

An undersized playmaking centre, Roy never seemed to work out wiht the Canucks.  He has good speed and stickhandling ability, along with a bit of an underrated shot.  Still his best asset is his passing ability and he is best used as a number 2 centre behin a number 1 with size.

 

7) Stephen Weiss, Florida Panthers
2012-13 Salary (before being pro-rated): $4.1 million  Cap Hit $3.1 million
2012-13 Stats: 17 GP, 1 G, 3 A, 4 PTS, 25 PIMs, -13

Stephen Weiss had a disaster of a season last year, and it ended early due to injury.   The question though, is does this season show a decline, or is it just a blip on what has been a decent career.  In 2011-12 Weiss was the Panthers number 1 centre, leading them to the Southeast Division title, and scoring 20 goals and 57 points.  Weiss played in all situations for the Panthers matching against other team’s top lines, and taking key faceoffs.  Without the disaster of the lockout shortened year, he’d be a lot higher on this list.

 

8) Valterri, Filppula, Detroit Red Wings
2012-13 Salary (before being pro-rated): $3.5 million Cap Hit $3 million
2012-13 Stats: 41 GP, 9 G, 8 A, 17 PTS, 6 PIMs, -4

Filppula has been a valuable two way player for the Detroit Red Wings.  He’s a versatile player who can play both centre and wing, and is always working hard to make a play, whether that be in the offensive or defensive end of the ice.  A very quick skater, he is more of a playmaker than a goal scorer.

 

9) Tyler Bozak, Toronto Maple Leafs
2012-13 Salary (before being pro-rated): $1.4 million Cap Hit $1.5 million
2012-13 Stats: 46 GP, 12 G, 16 A, 28 PTS, 16 PIMs, -1

Played centre on the Leafs number 1 line with Phil Kessel and one of James Van Riemsdyk/Joffrey Lupul over the last few years.  Has put up decent numbers but the question must be asked if he will produce the same if not playing with Kessel should he leave Toronto.  Bozak isn’t fancy, but almost always seems to make the smart play, moving the puck quickly to linemates.  He’s also a talented faceoff man.

 

10) Daniel Briere, Philadelphia Flyers
2012-13 Salary (before being pro-rated): $7 million Cap Hit $6.5 million
2012-13 Stats: 34 GP, 6 G, 10 A, 16 PTS, 10 PIMs, -13

Briere was bought out on an amnesty with the Flyers.  He is an undersized forward, who just knows how to score points.  A good passer, and he has a decent enough shot which is much more effective due to a lightning quick release.  He is a good stickhandler who can weave thorugh traffic to make plays.  Briere is declining, but he’s always taken his game to another level come playoff time.

 

Honourable Mentions: Patrick Elias, Jaromir Jagr, Clarke MacArthur, Brad Boyes, Viktor Stalberg, Brenden Morrow, Vinny Prospal, Damien Brunner, Benoit Pouliot, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Ryan Clowe, Matt Cullen, Dustin Penner, Simon Gagne, Steve Sullivan, Mason Raymond, Guillaime Latendresse, Kyle Wellwood,

 

Thanks for reading, as always feel free to leave comments below and follow me on twitter @lastwordBKerr.  Give the rest of the hockey department a follow while you’re at it – @BigMick99, @IswearGAA, and @LastWordOnNHL, and follow the site @lastwordonsport.

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2 Comments

  1. Matt R

    July 4, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    Is Elias an honourable mention because it’s assumed he’s heading back to NJ? I would put him well ahead of half that group, age and all.

    • Ben Kerr

      July 4, 2013 at 2:15 pm

      In large part, yes, the assumption for Elias is that he’s headed to New Jersey. We’ve heard a deal is close.

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