As the NHL 2011 Free Agent Frenzy begins at noon ET on Friday, the players that could move teams (and break the bank) are all being analyzed and ranked. Check out Sam McCaig's Top 50 free agents and Nick Cotsonika's piece on the thin free agent class for more.
Meanwhile, here's a list of five players that could be huge successes for new teams … or considered free-agent busts in a few years.
Ryder's going to test the marker after three years playing under Claude Julien. He's failed to hit 20 goals in consecutive seasons after scoring 20-or-more in four of his first five NHL campaigns. That said, he was awesome in stretches during the Bruins' Cup run, scoring 17 points (8 G, 9 A), including a goal and a helper in Game 6 against the Canucks. He made $4 million against the cap last season, and should get a raise; the real question is term for a 31-year-old winger. Would you go three years with Ryder?
Sean Bergenheim, Tampa Bay Lightning
After a career high in points in the regular season (29), he was a total revelation in the playoffs where he had 11 points in 16 games and was at times the best player on the ice. He's 27 and made $700,000 last season. There are questions about his upside and his hunger (after really singing for his supper last season). But he showed in the postseason that he's got the goods as a two-way forward.
Tim Connolly, Buffalo Sabres
The fragile nature of Tim Connolly, 30, is just assumed at this point. When he's on the ice, he can be an incredibly effective second-line pivot. The problem being that he's only played over 70 games once since the lockout and took a step back offensively last season (42 points in 68 games). Is he worth $4.5 million against the cap? Probably not, but in this market he could still get it. Dallas fans are intrigued.
Ian White, San Jose Sharks
What a conundrum. He's a puck-moving defenseman who played on three different teams in 2010-11, amassing 26 points. He wasn't the solution for the Sharks' hole on the blue line, which is why they upgraded to Brent Burns. But he's considered to have some offensive upside to go along with the intangibles of his leadership, grit and physicality. He made $2.9 million against the cap last year; how high is a team willing to go with a player who may just never put it all together?
Tomas Vokoun, Florida Panthers
The best goalie option left on the open market, and undoubtedly the priciest after a $5.7 million cap hit last season. He's 34, has solid numbers (.922 save percentage) and is one of those keepers that can win a game on his own. But will he be worth the price, and when does he lose his fastball?
- Michael Ryder
- Boston Bruins