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Breaking Down The Top Free Agent Left Wingers

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
With free agency starting on July 1 and the Panthers with money to spend, Panthers broadcasters Randy Moller, Steve Goldstein and Bill Lindsay will break down the free agent class with their top five lists (top 10 for defensemen). will unveil the lists over the next two weeks. The Panthers free agents were not included in their lists.

Following the release of the top centers on June 20th, left wings were unveiled on June 22nd, right wings will be unveiled on June 24th, defensemen on June 27th and finally goaltenders on June 29th.

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Left Wings

Erik Cole
Vile Lieno
Simon Gagne

Randy Moller's Top 5 Left Wingers

1. Raffi Torres: His stock has risen dramatically thanks to this year's playoffs. Just 29, the former 1st-rounder is starting to become the complete player that was expected of him.
2. Ville Leino: Unless the Flyers unload some high-priced contracts, some team will be thrilled to add his versatility on their roster.
3. Sean Bergenheim: Resurrected his career in Tampa this year and therefore deserves a big raise. Tampa might not be able to oblige.
4. Erik Cole: Had a great second half of the season with Carolina, often carrying the team as they just missed the playoffs. Has scored 20-plus goals four times in his career, including 26 this past season.
5. Tomas Fleischmann: Was limited in action this past season due to injuries but former second rounder can put the puck in the net scoring 23 goals two seasons ago. Is only 27 years old.

Steve Goldstein's Top 5 Left Wingers

1. Erik Cole: Cole is a heart and soul power forward. Came up huge for Carolina in the second half of the season.
2. Ville Leino: Emerged the past two seasons with the Flyers, he can flat out put the puck in the net with good skill.
3. Simon Gagne: After numerous games missed with injury, Gagne came back strong in the post-season with Tampa. He's a high risk, high reward free agent. My guess is some team will look smart.
4. Brooks Laich: Laich gets overshadowed by the big guns in DC but Laich is a strong two way player and still has offensive upside.
5. Tomas Fleischmann: Overlooked after a scary bloodclot injury ended his season. He's a skilled player that provides offense.

Bill Lindsay's Top Five Left Wingers

1. Erik Cole: Is big and strong and can skate like the wind. Goes to the net hard. Can he do it outside of Carolina is the question. He tried in Edmonton and failed miserably before being sent back to the Hurricanes. Also injuries are always an issue. Had a great second half last year. Play with wreckless abandon which leads to injuries.
2. Simon Gagne: This would either be a boom or a bust as he is getting on in age but has lots of talent but also severe concussion issues. To risky for me, but can be an elite scorer when healthy and motivated. Definitely a gamble but could have huge upside. A lot would depend on the asking price.
3. Ville Leino: Just coming into his prime, he has the potential to play on your top two lines and put up good numbers. He has elite level skill. Former Finnish League MVP and has been awesome in the Playoffs for Philly the last couple of years. Also a player that will draw a lot of interest.
4. Marco Sturm: Knee surgeries have slowed him down but at the right price could add leadership. He should be healthier next year with all summer to help condition his knee. A proven 20-goal scorer. He has to be healthy physically because his whole game revolves around his skating as he was once one of the fastest in the league.
5. Drew Miller: A depth forward (3rd or 4th line) that comes from a winning environment in Detroit. Very solid citizen.
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