NHL Free Agent Update

***FREE AGENCY KICKS OFF THIS FRIDAY AT 12 PM ET***

UPDATES: Roloson has re-signed with Tampa Bay (1 yr, $3M); Chad Larose re-signed in Carolina (2 years, $1.7M per season)

Ehrhoff’s negotiating rights traded to New York Islanders (doubt they sign him); Wisniewski’s rights traded to Columbus, where he may actually sign

The UFA market is quickly drying up. It’s literally changing by the minute. Joni Pitkanen was just re-signed by Carolina. Other big free agents like Kevin Bieksa, Eric Brewer, Ilya Bryzgalov, and Alex Tanguay have signed in recent days. I’m sure Tampa Bay is trying to retain Roloson and Gagne, Philadelphia – Leino, Boston – Ryder, etc. By the time Friday at noon hits, this already weak crop will be even thinner. That means that trade activity may be a bit heavier, as GM’s will look to tweak their roster in the only other way possible.

But I know what you’re really wondering – who will the Jets target? My money is on the players below:

JETS UFA TARGETS

Player Pos Age Height Weight NHL Seasons
Max Talbot LW/C 27 5’11 185 6
Sean Bergenheim LW 27 5’11 200 5
Scottie Upshall LW/RW 28 5’11 185 6
Chris Higgins LW 28 6′ 195 6
Boyd Gordon C 28 6′ 195 6
Marcel Goc C 28 6’1 200 6
Chad Larose RW/C 29 5’9 185 6
Joel Ward RW 30 6’1 215 3
Vernon Fiddler C 31 6’1 195 6
Marty Reasoner C 34 6’1 200 11
Michal Handzus C 34 6’4 220 12
Jeff Halpern C 35 6′ 195 11

Each guy on this list is a prototypical third line forward. The’re all useful on the penalty kill, and most of them (excepting Fiddler and Gordon) bring decent offensive upside – in the 15 goal, 35-40 point range. Talbot will be highly sought after, and possibly Bergenheim after his strong playoff performance, but the rest can all be considered affordable, second-tier talent. (Although second tier might go quickly this year since there isn’t much first-tier talent.) If I had to place bets, I think we’ll end up with Boyd Gordon – a solid defensive centre from Unity, Saskatchewan, and Chris Higgins – a speedy winger with pretty good overall skill but admittedly poor finishing ability. (Otherwise he’d be a top-6 forward).

For refeence, here’s a list of the top free agents available:

TOP UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

Goalies     Salary Expectations
Rank Name Pos Age Salary ($M) Years
1 Tomas Vokoun G 34 $4.00 3
2 Dwayne Roloson G 42 $4.00 2
3 Evgeni Nabokov G 35 $1.50 1
Defence        
Rank Name Pos Age    
1 Christian Ehrhoff D 29 $5.50 6
2 James Wisniewski D 27 $4.75 5
3 Tomas Kaberle D 34 $4.00 3
4 Ed Jovonovski D 34 $3.75 3
5 Roman Hamrlik D 37 $3.25 2
6 Ian White D 27 $3.00 3
7 Andy Greene D 28 $2.75 2
8 Scott Hannan D 32 $2.50 2
9 Bryan McCabe D 36 $2.00 1
10 Jan Hejda D 32 $1.75 2
Forwards        
Rank Name Pos Age    
1 Brad Richards C 31 $6.50 7
2 Ville Leino LW 28 $3.75 4
3 Simon Gagne LW 31 $3.75 2
4 Michael Ryder RW 31 $3.25 2
5 Radim Vrbata LW 30 $3.00 2
6 Max Talbot LW 27 $2.75 3
7 Joel Ward RW 30 $2.75 3
8 Sean Bergenheim LW 27 $2.50 2
9 Jussi Jokinen LW 28 $2.00 2
10 Tomas Fleischmann LW 27 $2.00 1
11 Scottie Upshall LW 28 $2.00 2
12 Erik Cole RW 32 $2.00 1
13 Jamie Langenbrunner RW 35 $2.00 1
14 Jason Arnott C 36 $2.00 1
15 Michal Handzus C 34 $1.75 1
16 Brendan Morrison C 35 $1.75 1
17 Chris Higgins LW 28 $1.75 1
18 Chad Larose C/RW 29 $1.50 1
19 Marty Reasoner C 34 $1.50 1
20 Tim Connolly C 30 $1.50 1

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