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LWOS Predicts 2016 NHL Free Agency

The NHL off-season is just around the corner and one of its highlights is free agency buzz. Hockey fans alike want to know which players might move, and who their team might be in the market for. The LWOS Hockey Department deliberated, and we collectively present our predictions for the 2016 NHL free agency period.

LWOS Predicts 2016 NHL Free Agency

Steven Stamkos

Steven Stamkos might be the best free agent to hit the market in the history of the NHL. At just 26 years of age the Canadian sniper has already scored 312 goals in his career. There is no question that he is a franchise player.

Prediction – Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto received 55% of the vote. The Tampa Bay Lightning came in second with 35%. Given the state of the Lightning’s salary cap, it’s hard to see Stamkos staying in Tampa Bay. If you’re looking for a sleeper team for Stamkos, the Montreal Canadiens and the Buffalo Sabres each received 5% of the vote.

Milan Lucic

Milan Lucic is so valuable because of the unique skill set he brings to the table. He brings toughness, physicality, energy, experience, and skill, with at least 20 goals four times in his career. He is a pretty strong package deal, and at 27 is in the prime of his career.

Prediction – Vancouver Canucks

Vancouver received 50% of the vote, although the Los Angeles Kings came in a close second with 40%. Kings general manager Dean Lombardi wants to keep Lucic in the worst way but he has major cap issues to deal with. Lucic is from Vancouver so the attraction of playing for his hometown team is there as well.

Kyle Okposo

Kyle Okposo hits the market with the second most points (64) of the free agent forwards from this past season. Being in his prime, the Minnesota native is 28 and has reached at least 60 points in two out of the last three years—though he has only scored 25 goals once in his career if scoring is a determining factor. One also has to consider his playing with John Tavares, and how that impacts his stats.

Prediction – Montreal Canadiens

Montreal won the vote with 40%. The New York Islanders came in second with 25%. Okposo will be shooting for something similar to the Ryan O’Reilly – Bobby Ryan contracts of recent years. Will he give the Islanders a hometown discount, or shoot for a bigger payday elsewhere?

Loui Eriksson

The Boston Bruins finally got the Loui Eriksson they thought they were trading for this past season. On the other hand, it took three years for that to happen. The Swedish forward had 30 goals and 63 points this past season.

Prediction – Boston Bruins

Boston won the vote with 50%. Eriksson turns 31 in July so it will be interesting to see the terms of his new contract, particularly its duration.

Keith Yandle

Keith Yandle is the best free agent defenseman on the market by a country mile. Yandle is strong offensively and terrific running the power play.

Prediction – Boston Bruins

Yandle received votes for nine different teams. The Bruins collected 25% of votes. The puck-moving blue-liner will score a huge contract this summer.

David Backes

David Backes is the captain of the St. Louis Blues and has been a consistent goal-scorer. He also has played on winning teams throughout his career.

Prediction – St. Louis Blues

The Blues won the vote with a resounding 85%. Backes is now 32, and may be in the twilight of his career in terms of production.

Frans Nielsen

Frans Nielsen has been a secret in the NHL for quite some time. This past year for the Islanders, the Danish center had 20 goals and 52 points. Nielsen is also excellent on the power play and the penalty kill.

Prediction – NY Islanders

The Islanders won the vote with a whopping 80%. It’s hard to see the Isles losing both Okposo and Nielsen. Remember, Nielsen has been with the Islanders organization since he was drafted by them in 2002.

Troy Brouwer

Troy Brouwer only plays for winning clubs. The soon to be 31-year-old has played for the Chicago Blackhawks, Washington Capitals and the St. Louis Blues over the last few years. He has size, grit and has scored between 17 and 25 goals the last seven years.

Prediction – St. Louis Blues

The Blues won the vote with 40%. Interesting to note: Brouwer received votes from nine different teams.

Mikkel Boedker

Mikkel Boedker was a hot property at the trade deadline. He was moved from the Arizona Coyotes to the Colorado Avalanche in late February.

Prediction – Colorado Avalanche

Colorado won the vote with 20% as Boedker received votes for 11 different teams. While only 26, keep in mind Boedker has never scored 20 goals and was a -33 last season—though we recognize that plus/minus is not always a good determining factor.

Alex Goligoski

A cheaper alternative to Yandle could be Alex Goligoski. Goligoski turns 31 this summer and is a good offensive defenseman. The stat that will help him in free agency is the fact he was a +21 this past season (see note on Boedker re +/-).

Prediction – Dallas Stars

Dallas won the vote with 40%. The Stars need to improve their play on the blue line and Goligoski was one of their better D-men this past year.

Andrew Ladd

Andrew Ladd recently turned 30 and his numbers are trending downwards. He only produced 46 points this past season.

Prediction – Toss Up

Ladd received votes from 11 different teams. It was a three-way tie at 15% between Montreal, Boston and the Anaheim Ducks.

Jason Demers

Jason Demers is considered a solid defensemen and he is only 28. Demers was a (+16) for the Stars this past season.

Prediction – Toss Up, Dallas and New Jersey

Like Boedker and Ladd, Demers received votes for 11 different teams. There was a tie in the voting between Dallas and the New Jersey Devils at 20%. Demers will get top four blue line money this summer but is he worth that contract?

Eric Staal

Eric Staal is coming off the worst year of his career and turns 32 in October. He only had 39 points this season in 83 games.

Prediction – Carolina Hurricanes

Carolina won the vote with 50%. Eric Staal going back to Carolina where he is comfortable and playing with his brother makes a whole lot of sense.


My thanks to all the LWOS hockey writers who helped me with the voting.

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