The trade deadline is coming very fast and most GMs are looking around to either get players to increase their chance to win the Stanley Cup or to unload some players to gain some cap space. Here is the list of the top UFA (unrestricted free agents) for the 2016-2017 season.

Defense

Brian Campbell     (FLA)  7.14M     36years old  (24pts)
Alex Goligoski       (DAL)  4.8M       30years old (25pts)
Dan Boyle             (NYR)  4.5M       39years old (17pts)
Nikita Nikitin          (EDM)  4.5M       29years old (1pt)
Dan Hamhuis        (VAN) 4.25M       33years old (5pts)
Willie Mitchell        (FLA)  4.25M       38years old (7pts)
Kyle Quincey         (DET) 4.25M       30years old (8pts)
Braydon Coburn     (TBL) 4M            30years old (9pts)
Carl Gunnarsson    (STL) 3.3M         29years old (7pts)
Roman Polak         (TOR) 3.1M         29years old (13pts)
Nicklas Grossman  (ARI) 3M           31years old (7pts)
Yevgeni Medvedev (PHI)  3M            33years old (10pts)
Keith Yandle          (NYR) 2.9M        29years old (33pts)
Tom Gilbert             (MTL) 2.8M         33years old (2pts)
John-M. Liles          (CAR) 2.8M         35years old (14pts)
Kris Russell             (CAL) 2.6M         28years old (15pts)
Jason Demers        (DAL) 2.5M        27years old (21pts)
Matt Bartkowski       (VAN) 1.8M        27years old (12pts)
Luke Schenn            (LAK) 1.7M        26years old (9pts)
Marek Zidlicky          (NYI)  1.5M        39years old (15pts)
Jordie Benn              (DAL) 0.9M        28years old (9pts)

While most of the top potential D are with teams that are going to be making the playoffs, it will be interesting to see if any tier2 D will be traded before February 29th. Players like: Roman Polak, Tom Gilbert, John-M. Liles, Kriss Russell and Bartkowski could be all available before deadline.

My top 2 defense UFA are Keith Yandle and Jason Demers. Keith Yandle has been a major asset for the New York Rangers. While his salary is under 3M (2.9M) he already obtained 33points this year (the #1 D UFA in term of points) with a pretty solid team. If New York can sign him with a similar salary, it will be a steal. Jason Demers has brought some depth in Dallas’ defensive squad. He is playing on the second line with Johnny Oduya and plays on the 2nd power play with Goligoski. With a 2.5M salary, at 27 years old, Dallas might want to resign him as soon as possible for a 3-4 years contract.

Center

Eric Staal           (CAR)   9.5M      31years old  (31pts)
Steven Stamkos (TBL) 5.5M      26years old (44pts)
David Backes     (STL)   4.8M       31years old (32pts)
Ted Purcell         (EDM)  4.5M      30years old (32pts)
Jiri Hudler            (CGY) 4M          32years old (32pts)
David Legwand   (BUF)  3.5M       35years old (12pts)
Frans Nielsen     (NYI)  3.5M        31years old (36pts)
Sam Gagner        (PHI)   3.4M       26years old (8pts)
Paul Gaustad       (NAS) 3M          34years old (5pts)
Brad Richards      (DET) 3M          35years old (19pts)
Steve Ott              (STL) 2.6M        33years old (2pts)
Darren Helm         (DET)2.5M        29years old (16pts)
Shawn Matthias    (TOR)2.3M       28years old (17pts)
Nick Spaling          (TOR)2.2M       27years old (7pts)
Shawn Horcoff      (ANA)1.8M        37years old (10pts)
Paul Byron            (MTL 0.9M        26years old (11pts)

Eric Staal is sitting on top of the centers list with an overwhelming 9.5M salary. I will be very surprising if he ends up signing a similar salary next year. While many teams are always looking to get a top center, not many are going to be available. The #1 is without a doubt Steven Stamkos. At 26 years old, there’s no way Tampa Bay is thinking of not resigning him. He will get more than 5.5M and a lot of other teams are going to be interested if he ends up being free. Frans Nielsen is in my mind the #2 center that might be available. Nielsen has been a New York Islanders since day1 of his NHL career so chances are he will resign with them, again. He’s a very skilled second center and has been steadily racking between 40 to 60 points in the last 5 seasons.

Left Wing

Patrik Elias        (NJ)    5.5M     39years old (5pts)
Loui Eriksson    (BOS) 4.5M     30years old (46pts)
Andrew Ladd     (WIN) 4.5M     30years old (33pts)
David Perron     (ANA) 4.5M     27years old (29pts)
Mikkel Boedker  (ARI )3.8M     26years old (38pts)
Milan Lucic         (LAK) 3.8M     27years old (36pts)
Alex Tanguay     (COL)3.5M     36years old (21pts)
Jamie McGinn    (BUF)   3M      27years old (27pts)
Rene Bourque    (CLB)2.5M      34years old (5pts)
Jason Chimera   (WAS) 2M       36years old (31pts)
Nathan Gerbe     (CAR) 2M       28years old (3pts)

Patrick Elias with his 5.5M salary is sitting in the first place for the UFA Left Wing, for the last year. Patrick only played 13 games and accumulated 5points, I wouldn’t be surprised if he retired at the end of the current season. After Elias, things get interesting. Loui Eriksson is having a solid season with the Boston Bruins, he’s on pace for a 60pts+ year. Eriksson has had 4 60pts+ season with the Dallas Stars so this isn’t just a lucky year. A lot of teams will want to sign him for a 4-5M salary. Mikkel Boedker is playing on the first line of the Arizona Coyotes. With the arrival of Domi, Duclair and other young stars, this team should sign Boedker at pretty much any price.

Milan Lucic might be an overaggressive player, but he’s showing season after season why he’s a top LW in the NHL. At 27 years old, Milan won’t have any problems finding a new home if he has to for the next few years. His style of play fits perfectly with the LA Kings. I’m pretty sure they are trying to sign him for a 2-3 years contract.

Right Wing

Michael Grabner   (TOR)    5M    28years old (11pts)
Radim Vrbata        (VAN)    5M    34years old (23pts)
Shane Doan          (ARI) 4.6M    39years old (34pts)
Kyle Okposo         (NYI)  4.5M    27years old(45pts)
David Jones          (CGY)    4M    31years old (15pts)
Troy Brouwer        (STL)   3.8M   30years old (24pts)
Jaromir Jagr         (FLA)  3.5M   44years old (43pts)
Kris Versteeg        (CAR) 2.4M   29years old (33pts)
Chris Stewart       (ANA)   1.7M   28years old (18pts)
Patrick Eaves       (DAL)   1.2M   31years old (12pts)
Dale Weise           (MTL)     1M   27years old (25pts)
Lee Stempniak      (NJ)    0.9M   33years old (40pts)

The best player in this list is Kyle Okposo from the New York Islanders. New York have to sign Frans Nielsen as well, so this might be harder than expected. While they are going to the playoff right now, Okposo has been a huge part of the puzzle for this team.

Jaromir Jagr never ages. The 44years old veteran is still dominating with the Florida Panthers with an incredible 43 points so far. My guess is Jaromir will be playing in the NHL at 45 years old. Kris Versteeg left Chicago after winning the Stanley Cup and is racking up points with the Hurricanes. Carolina is out of a playoff spot at this point and might want to trade him before UFA so they can receive something in return. Lee Stempniak has been the steal of this year. With a 900 000$ salary, the 33 years old has accumulated 40points so far this season. A lot of teams are going to show interest for next year if he’s asking around 2M.

Goalies

Cam Ward           (CAR)  6.8M     31years old – 2.34 .909
Jonas Hiller          (CGY) 4.5M     34years old – 3.20 .889
Karri Ramo           (CGY) 3.8M     29years old – 2.63 .909
Anton Khudobin   (ANA)  2.5M     29years old – 2.60 .911
James Reimer      (TOR)    2M     27years old – 2.47 .919
Ben Scrivens        (MTL) 1.7M      29years old – 3.00 .901
Alex Stalock          (SJ)   1.7M      28years old – 2.94 .884

Not too much available goalie wise. Calgary has both of their goalies going for UFA. Karri Ramo would be the #1 since he’s younger, has better stats and is asking for the lowest salary.

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