The group of forwards eligible to become unrestricted free agents on July 1 is littered with potential difference makers, but only a select few merit star status.
Here are the top nine UFA forwards:
Note: The terms listed in their last contract are from CapGeek.com.
Signed with: St. Louis Blues, 4 years
Previous team: Colorado Avalanche
Last contract: 5 years, $33 million
Stastny and the Avalanche want to keep the relationship going, but Colorado has to consider the cap ramifications of signing him to a lucrative, long-term contract. Stastny, who was making $6.6 million annually on his prior contract, had 60 points in 71 games last season.
Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said he still envisions Stastny playing between Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog next season. That was an excellent and productive line for Colorado last season. It could be one for a long time if Stastny re-signs.
If he doesn't, Colorado will likely move MacKinnon to center on a full-time basis. O'Reilly could also move to center if and when he re-signs.
Previous team: Montreal Canadiens
Last contract: 7 years, $50 million (signed with Buffalo Sabres)
Vanek's play in the Stanley Cup Playoffs likely spells the end of his short time in Montreal. He scored five goals and had 10 points in 17 postseason games. There were long stretches of time when he was largely ineffective and he was demoted to the fourth line.
After the Sabres traded him to the New York Islanders in October, Vanek showed he can mesh and play well with an elite center. He had 44 points in 47 games playing primarily with John Tavares before being traded to Montreal in early March.
Vanek had 68 points on 27 goals and 41 assists in 78 games with the Sabres, Islanders and Canadiens. He was making $7.14 million annually on his prior contract.
Previous team: Boston Bruins
Age: 36 (Turns 37 on July 1)
Last contract: 1 year, $1.8 million ($4.2 million available in performance bonuses)
The Bruins will be tight against the salary cap. That could affect the type of offer they make to Iginla and whether he stays, which he says he wants to do after scoring 30 goals last season.
It all hinges on the term of the contract for Iginla. Is he willing to play on another one-year contract or does he want a multiyear deal?
By signing Iginla to a one-year, bonus-laden contract, the Bruins can keep his salary-cap charge down in the 2014-15 season while pushing any bonus money onto its 2015-16 salary cap. That's how they had Iginla on a $1.8 million cap charge for the 2013-14 season. He was eligible to earn as much as $6 million last season, but $4.2 million of that was in performance bonuses.
The catch is that teams are prohibited from including performance bonuses on multiyear contracts to players aged 35 and older. So Iginla might not be able to get a deal for more than one year from a Boston team operating near the cap ceiling.
Previous team: Detroit Red Wings
Last contract: 1 year, $3.5 million ($2 million available in performance bonuses)
The Detroit Free Press reported earlier this week that Alfredsson wants to return to Detroit, but his aching back might be a problem. The Red Wings have to decide if the reward they could get with Alfredsson in the lineup is worth the risk of re-signing him, even if it's on a one-year, bonus-laden contract.
Alfredsson tied with Niklas Kronwall for the Red Wings lead with 49 points last season. He missed 14 regular-season games and two of Detroit's five playoff games with injuries.
Previous team: Calgary Flames
Last contract: 5 years, $30 million (signed with Montreal Canadiens)
The Flames could have traded Cammalleri at the deadline then tried to re-sign him in the offseason. Instead, they held on to him and now risk losing him for nothing.
Cammalleri reportedly has met with new Flames general manager Brad Treliving, but there has been zero indication from either side that the relationship will continue beyond July 1.
He had 26 goals in 63 games for the Flames last season. Calgary is clearly rebuilding and Cammalleri, who has never reached the Stanley Cup Final, is in a win-now phase of his career. The stars don't seem to line up for him to remain in Calgary.
Previous team: Toronto Maple Leafs
Last contract: 5 years, $16.875 million (signed with Chicago Blackhawks)
Bolland wants to stay in Toronto for the rest of his career. The Maple Leafs wouldn't mind that and president Brendan Shanahan has said he wants to re-sign Bolland. But how much is Bolland willing to give up to stay with the Maple Leafs?
The Ontario native has won the Stanley Cup twice with Chicago and has the experience and know-how the Maple Leafs covet. But he's never been a 20-goal scorer and has one 40-point season. So what is he worth? And can he get more on the open market than he can from Toronto?
Bolland could hit the open market and create a bidding war among teams, driving his price up, or he could negotiate with the Maple Leafs and never find out what his value is on the open market. He'll likely get a raise either way; it's just a matter of which path he takes.
Previous team: Washington Capitals
Last contract: 1 year, $3 million
There is reportedly mutual interest between the Capitals and Grabovski, who had 35 points in 58 games in his first season in Washington. He was the only Capitals forward to finish the season with a plus-50 Corsi-for rating.
However, new Washington GM Brian MacLellan has talked about developing a second-line center from within. Grabovski would command the type of contract that would warrant him being the second-line center. The Capitals have other needs, most notably defensive depth and a backup goalie.
Signed with: Buffalo Sabres, 5 years
Previous team: Minnesota Wild
Last contract: 3 years, $9.4 million (signed with New York Islanders)
All signs point to Moulson being available on July 1. If he is, he'll be competing with Vanek and Cammalleri as the top left wings available. He will be looking for his big payday as well.
Moulson had 13 points in 20 games with the Wild after being traded from the Buffalo Sabres, who acquired him from the Islanders in October in the deal that sent Vanek to Long Island. But he was quiet in the playoffs with three points in 10 games. He ended up with 23 goals and 51 points in 75 regular-season games.
Moulson could be an interesting target for the Islanders, who could try to reunite him with Tavares, a combination that clicked for four-plus seasons on Long Island.
Signed with: Buffalo Sabres, 3 years
Previous team: Montreal Canadiens
Last contract: 5 years, $25 million
Gionta, Montreal's captain since 2010, reportedly is in negotiations to re-sign with the Canadiens. He had 40 points, including 18 goals, in 81 games in 2013-14, then contributed seven points in 17 playoff games. He has good chemistry with center Tomas Plekanec.
The question is how much are the Canadiens willing to pay Gionta, and for how long, to stay in Montreal and remain as captain? He made $5 million annually on his previous contract.
Montreal has cap space but also has to re-sign defenseman P.K. Subban, who will command a big contract.
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter: @drosennhl
|Back to top|