Tag Archives: DTFR Numbers Game

Numbers Game: Ranking the NHL Mascots (5-1)

The following is a continuation of the ranking of all of the mascots in the NHL, based on the list of NHL mascots Wikipedia page.

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Blades is definitely mascot goals if you want to make the top five. (Photo by Brian Babineau/ Getty Images)

5. Blades- Boston Bruins

Blades is a fierce looking mascot with a big heart deep inside. Trust me, from personal experience, Blades is really nice, despite what nightmares he may give you. The Bruins hit one out of the park when they introduced Blades, a bruin (which is an old English word for “bear”, look it up) that has luscious blue eyes.

Additionally, Blades is less sarcastic than The Bear, Boston’s unofficial mascot that they use in plenty of marketing schemes who helps fit the New England stereotype of being tough and a diehard fan of Rene Rancourt.

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Slapshot is a great mascot for the Capitals, but enough with the drum, Slapshot, we’re trying to watch the game. (Photo via @Caps_Slapshot)

4. Slapshot- Washington Capitals

Nothing screams patriotism than a bald eagle representing your hockey franchise that plays in Washington, D.C. Nothing. Slapshot is an excellent mascot. Seriously. Well done. Props to you, Washington Capitals, you remembered to give your wicked cool mascot pants and all.

My only complaint (like with any mascot) is the drum. I hate those during play and they’re pretty tacky if your fan base can’t rally themselves and must be provoked to cheer or chant. Okay, rant over, please don’t hate me Capitals fans. It’s nothing against you, just something about sports that I’ve observed over the years.

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Wild Wing, you make my heart sing. (Photo via @WildWing_93)

3. Wild Wing- Anaheim Ducks

The California teams sweep the podium in my ranking of the NHL’s mascots and for good reason. To some, Wild Wing could rank higher or lower, but to me, Wild Wing comes in at number three. Look, this is a quality mascot. I have no complaints other than minor qualms about Wild Wing’s lack of pants and such. And if you claim he’s wearing pants and that they’re white. Newsflash, IT’S AFTER LABOR DAY.

As an aside, I’ve never seen the Mighty Ducks or any of the sequels. No, I won’t watch them because you tell me I have to in order to be a real ’90s kid, hockey fan or whatever.

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S.J. Sharkie + Brent Burns forever. True love does exist. (Photo via @sjsharkie)

2. S.J. Sharkie- San Jose Sharks

What other mascot tries to eat everyone they meet? Anyone? Anyone? I didn’t think so. S.J. Sharkie not only rappels from the rafters (and gets stuck every now and then), but likes to offer his bite instead of a handshake as a formal greeting. Simply put, S.J. Sharkie is on the shortlist of mascots I wouldn’t mind having at my birthday party sometime.

No amount of Metallica could keep the Shark Tank rocking on its own. S.J. Sharkie is the heart and soul of SAP Center and he knows how to keep it loud all the time. Party at S.J. Sharkie’s everyone.

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Bailey is truly the pride of the pack. He is the king of mascots. (Photo via @BaileyLAKings)

1. Bailey- Los Angeles Kings

Bailey reigns supreme over all of the other mascots in the NHL. He’s got the royal look down with the heart of a lion. Though lions are typically menacing, Bailey’s actually pretty amiable. The Los Angeles Kings really outdid themselves with the creation and implementation of Bailey as their mascot.

Named after the Kings’s pro scouting director, Garnet “Ace” Bailey, who was tragically killed when United Airlines Flight 175 hit the south tower on 9/11, the Los Angeles franchise turned the tragedy and mourning of a coworker, mentor, friend and family member into part of the organization’s legacy forever. What better way to memorialize a man like “Ace” Bailey than by making him the most approachable mascot in the NHL?

Numbers Game: Ranking the Mascots of the NHL (20-16)

By: Nick Lanciani

The following is a continuation of the ranking of all of the mascots in the NHL, based on the list of NHL mascots Wikipedia page.

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Viktor E. Ratt (left) and Stanley C. Panther (right) would be a winning combo if Viktor E. Ratt retired. (Photo via @FlaPanthersCARE)

20. Stanley C. Panther/ Viktor E. Ratt- Florida Panthers

If it weren’t for Viktor E. Ratt’s existence, Stanley C. Panther might have cracked the top ten. But since Viktor E. Ratt exists, I was generous enough to at least include them in the top-20. Look, I understand Vikor E. Ratt’s significance, given the history and tradition behind Florida Panthers fans tossing plastic rats on the ice, but one mascot is enough. Leave the 1996 inspired rat behind. Please.

As for Stanley C. Panther, he’s average. Despite being rather plain looking, he has a clean aesthetic and ties in perfectly with the Florida Panthers as an organization (aside from, you know, his existence as a Florida panther, the endangered animal and an extension of the brand).

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Victor E. Green definitely stands out in a crowd. (Photo via Dallas Stars)

19. Victor E. Green- Dallas Stars

An ode to the man who moved the North Stars to Dallas or simply an ode to their jersey color, you decide, but Victor E. Green is a pretty solid, lovable, alien. The fact of the matter is that he is too lovable. While I give the Dallas Stars props for joining the mascot bandwagon however long ago (it was pretty recent, but not as recent as Hunter’s arrival with the Edmonton Oilers), an alien is a bit far fetched, unless your team is located in the same state as Area 51 (hello, Vegas Golden Knights employees who are reading this, please take my idea and run with it).

Kudos to the Stars, though, for the wonderful mascot bio that notes Victor E. Green’s relationship status as “[a]lienated” and his birthplace as “[a] galaxy far, far away” (Star Wars > Star Trek, come at me, nerds). Minus five points for being too similar to a MLB mascot, though.

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Harvey the Hound, giving me nightmares, since forever for some reason. (Photo by Derek Leung/ Getty Images)

18. Harvey the Hound- Calgary Flames

Craig MacTavish isn’t a fan of Harvey the Hound, just ask that 2003 playoff game where he ripped out Harvey the Hound’s tongue (look it up on YouTube on your own time). Fun fact, Harvey the Hound is the oldest mascot in the NHL. Because of that, he gets some brownie points and rises in my ranking. But also because of that and his much needed spin through the washing machine or whatever, he gets downgraded a few spots.

Look, I have no real complaints about Harvey the Hound here other than the costume should probably be dry cleaned and maybe modernized a bit. And no, despite what you may be thinking, Scorch wasn’t better.

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Gnash looks smashing, despite the fact that the baby blue went better with the silver that was once rampant in Nashville’s jerseys. (Photo by Matt Zambonin/ Freestyle Photo/ Getty Images)

17. Gnash- Nashville Predators

Got to say, not a huge fan of the baby blue, but otherwise Gnash fits the bill perfectly for the Predators. I mean, simply put, there’s not much else to say about this mascot. So 17th it is.

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If it’s from New Jersey it better be Bruce Springsteen or else– so not this guy. Nice try, New Jersey. (Photo via @NJDevil00)

16. N.J. Devil- New Jersey Devils

Some people say N.J. Devil is one of the greatest mascots in sports. I am not “some people”. It might be unfair to hold their uniforms against them, but there’s just something that seems unoriginal about New Jersey’s mascot. What’s with the mustache? Why haven’t they changed their jerseys (or at least added a third jersey) in ages?

It’s New Jersey, why don’t they just dress up one of Bruce Springsteen’s guitars and call it their mascot? Better yet, just get Bruce Springsteen himself to show up at every game. Maybe then the recent lackluster attendance problem will be solved.

Numbers Game: Ranking the mascots of the NHL (25-21)

By: Nick Lanciani

The following is a continuation of the ranking of all of the mascots in the NHL, based on the list of NHL mascots Wikipedia page.

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Why, just why? Sparky the Dragon’s on Twitter kids (@SparkyNYI).

25. Sparky the Dragon- New York Islanders

Sparky the Dragon double-dipped as the mascot of the Islanders, wearing blue and orange during Islanders games, and pink, red and black for the New York Dragons (Arena Football) team until 2009. This mascot made sense for the Dragons, considering, hello, Sparky the Dragon is a dragon. But unfortunately for minority Isles owner, Charles Wang (who also owned the New York Dragons), you can’t always get what you want from applying one thing to satisfy two needs.

What was so wrong about the Gorton’s fisherman era Islanders? Honestly, just take that concept and make it a walking thing that creeps on people– I mean, takes pictures with fans and ensures everyone is having a good time at Barclays Center. Plus, the 90s are cool again and most likely every hipster in Brooklyn would flock to an arena that’s ill-fitted for hockey to 1) learn who the Islanders are and 2) dig the on fleek colors of the fisherman (is that what they say now?).

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Come to think of it, what’s with mascots on Twitter anyway? Photo via @NordyWild on Twitter (Nordy’s Official Account)

24. Nordy- Minnesota Wild

Everyone says Nordy looks like Alex from Madagascar and while I won’t disagree, I will say that Nordy looks pretty bad. It doesn’t help that the Wild applied their bear logo across his face, for starters. Plus his mane is a bit unkempt.

Come to think of it, I don’t really know what really makes Nordy quite an unattractive mascot. Maybe it’s his number. I mean, 18,001 is a bit much to fit on a jersey. Plus his smile just screams “help me”, “get me out of here” or something along those lines. Minnesota made an attempt. That’s good. He is a lot less creepy than some mascots in the MLB (looking at you– actually, all of the MLB mascots except for Wally the Green Monster). But for NHL mascots, Nordy doesn’t rank quite as well.

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“Go stand next to him! He won’t bite– actually, Billy, I’m not sure if he bites,” me if I was a parent. (Photo via Andy Delvin/ Oilers Entertainment Group)

23. Hunter- Edmonton Oilers

Shouts to the Edmonton Oilers for finally introducing a mascot to their organization for their first time in franchise history this season. Hunter’s namesake comes from the original owner of the then Alberta Oilers of the World Hockey Association, Bill Hunter.

But that’s about it for cutesy comments about this sure to devour anyone in its path looking mascot. Look, Hunter’s a great name for the Oilers considering it pays homage to the aforementioned Bill Hunter, but it’s probably not a great name for a lynx that for sure is a carnivore and hunts things. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me or something. Regardless, Edmonton, you tried. Am I glad you finally have a mascot, yes. It’s just a little… creepy.

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Bernie’s eyes will haunt you in your sleep. (Photo via Colorado Avalanche)

22. Bernie the St. Bernard- Colorado Avalanche

The Colorado Avalanche have been feeling the Bern since they switched up their mascot from Howler the Yeti to Bernie the St. Bernard in 2009. For the first few years of Bernie’s existence, I could live with the change.

Yet, as I grow older, I become more nostalgic and cranky towards change. Howler the Yeti was better. Even in the franchise’s days as the Québec Nordiques, whatever this thing was that was the Nordiques mascot was better than this alien-looking dog (look at Bernie’s eyes and tell me he’s not something from Area 51, speaking of which, there’s an idea for you, Vegas Golden Knights, give us an alien). And what’s with the barrel, Bernie? What are you hiding from us and how did you get that past security?

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Could be worse. (Photo via Christian Petersen/ Getty Images North America)

21. Howler- Arizona Coyotes

Howler isn’t all that bad, just not that great. He’s average. The kind of mascot that you can be proud of, but wish could do more. Put him in a kachina jersey all year and he’d probably jump up 20 spots in my rankings.

Other than that, I really don’t have any reason why Howler fits in at 21st overall. He just does. Maybe it’s his face. Yeah, come to think of it, his face kind of bothers me. It’s almost too perfect and kind of oddly angled to a point for a nose. That thing’s probably sharp and could poke out someone’s eye. Minus 10 points for safety.

Numbers Game: Top-5 Pending RFA Goalies

By: Nick Lanciani

12:01 PM ET on July 1st (precisely) marks the start of the NHL’s free agency period, so of course, you’ve found yourself scavenging the Internet for the freshest hot takes and the best indications of where players will end up. Likewise, you probably just want to know who’s available out there (and I’m not talking about Tinder).

Well fear not, because I’m here to set things straight with a short series of posts about the Top-5 free agents in every category you can think of (UFA forwardsUFA defensemenUFA goaliesRFA forwards, RFA defensemen and RFA goalies) in this latest edition of Numbers Game posts. RFAs are fun, RFAs are cool, but here’s the thing, other general managers will hate you forever apparently if you offer sheet one of their guys. Also, shouts to you if you’re still reading these. That shows commitment. And heart. And grit. I’ll be done with these— for now.

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1. G Petr Mrazek (27-16-0-6, 2.33 GAA, .921 SV% with the Detroit Red Wings)- $737,500 cap hit, 23 years old

Petr Mrazek is the only starting goaltender of this bunch and he’s due for a payday with the Detroit Red Wings. The only problem is, they still have Jimmy Howard and are paying him a bunch. So while Mrazek’s in the waitroom, you might as well give him a call if you’re a GM that needs a starting goalie that hasn’t even reached his full potential or tapped into his best play.

2. G Darcy Kuemper (6-7-0-5, 2.43 GAA, .915 SV% with the Minnesota Wild)- $1.250 million cap hit, 25 years old

The Minnesota Wild would be smart to keep Darcy Kuemper around long enough to turn him into a valuable asset that they could cash in, which sounds exactly like what they’re planning on doing. Let’s just say that Kuemper’s not a starter if Devan Dubnyk goes down with an injury, but until you find a rental replacement, he’ll be able to hold you over.

3. G Calvin Pickard (7-6-0-1, 2.56 GAA, .922 SV% with the Colorado Avalanche)- $850,500 cap hit, 23 years old

Calvin Pickard has the chance to be a decent backup, but is nowhere near the projections of taking over the number one spot in Colorado just yet. In a related story, the Avalanche should really keep him and get him a defense, just in case Semyon Varlamov gets hurt again and/or Pickard plays better than Varlamov for whatever reason.

4. G Anders Nilsson (10-13-0-2, 3.12 GAA, .901 SV% with the Edmonton Oilers/St. Louis Blues)- $1.000 million, 25 years old

Anders Nilsson has played in 52 career NHL games over three seasons and has never ended a season with a GAA less than 2.75, so yeah, offer sheet him all you want. Whoever owns him would be glad to get a 7th rounder (at best).

5. G Kristers Gudlevskis (0-0-0-1, 1.00 GAA, .969 SV% with the Tampa Bay Lightning)- $608,333 cap hit, 23 years old

Kristers Gudlevskis has had two solid starts to his NHL career as the presumptive backup to Andrei Vasilevskiy once the Tampa Bay Lightning eventually (probably) move Ben Bishop or lose him at the 2017 expansion draft to Las Vegas.

Honorable Mention

Me if I were still playing DekHockey (I forget my stats, good GAA, decent SV%)- $0 cap hit

I mean, seriously, there’s only 14 RFA goalies available (if that by 12:01) and there’s hardly enough to make a top-5 from them.

 

Numbers Game: Top-5 Pending RFA Defensemen

By: Nick Lanciani

12:01 PM ET on July 1st (precisely) marks the start of the NHL’s free agency period, so of course, you’ve found yourself scavenging the Internet for the freshest hot takes and the best indications of where players will end up. Likewise, you probably just want to know who’s available out there (and I’m not talking about Tinder).

Well fear not, because I’m here to set things straight with a short series of posts about the Top-5 free agents in every category you can think of (UFA forwardsUFA defensemenUFA goalies, RFA forwards, RFA defensemen and RFA goalies) in this latest edition of Numbers Game posts. RFAs are fun, RFAs are cool, but here’s the thing, other general managers will hate you forever apparently if you offer sheet one of their guys. Also, shouts to you if you’re still reading these. That shows commitment. And heart. And grit.

Down the Frozen River- Smaller Circular Logo1. D Tyson Barrie (13-36-49 totals with the Colorado Avalanche)- $2.600 million cap hit, 24 years old

Colorado Avalanche general manager, Joe Sakic, is going to have quite the offseason to manage squashing the rumors about the Avalanche trading Tyson Barrie and whatnot. But hey, if you’re an opposing GM and you’re reading this, go ahead and give Barrie’s agent a call if Colorado can’t figure things out soon enough. I’ll wait. Barrie had a breakout 53 point season in 2014-2015 and is managing around the same stats and style of play. Hard hitting when you need him, depth scoring when you need it. Come to think of it, maybe I can get the rest of the DTFR guys here to submit an offer sheet (that’s how this stuff works, right?), I mean, why not?

2. D Rasmus Ristolainen (9-32-41 totals with the Buffalo Sabres)- $925,000 cap hit, 21 years old

Don’t let the Buffalo Sabres float under your radar in case there’s a chance things don’t work out for them and Rasmus Ristolainen (who doubled his points total this season from 2014-2015). Plenty of people would tell you the Sabres are doing everything in their power to keep him around and that’s a good thing, but if you wanted to be that guy, be that guy. The only thing that might weigh him down is his plus/minus (which is an outdated stat). In three seasons, it’s gone from a minus-15 to a minus-32 to, most recently, a minus-21. But then again, he plays for the Sabres.

3. D Hampus Lindholm (10-18-28 totals with the Anaheim Ducks)- $894,166 cap hit, 21 years old

This season was the first season, in his three career seasons with Anaheim, that Hampus Lindholm amassed less than 30 points. Although he only missed the mark by two. If you’re a fan of the Ducks and think they’re a good team, then you might suggest his numbers are inflated. But when a 21 year old comes into the league and upends Cam Fowler in his first three seasons, you know he’s legit for Anaheim. Lindholm is due for a big deal that’ll lock him up, however there’s always a chance some other team could meddle with Anaheim’s plans.

4. D Michael Stone (6-30-36 totals with the Arizona Coyotes)- $1.150 million, 25 years old

Tied with Danny DeKeyser on my list for the oldest pending RFA mentioned by yours truly, Michael Stone has improved by far in his first five career NHL seasons with the Arizona Coyotes. In 81 games during the 2014-2015 season, Stone had 3-15-18 totals. This season, Stone doubled everything with 6-30-36 totals in 75 games played. Need I say more if you’re interested in luring away talent for your blue line?

5. D Dmitry Orlov (8-21-29 totals with the Washington Capitals)- $2.000 million cap hit, 24 years old

In his first full season with the Washington Capitals, Dmitry Orlov had 8-21-29 totals. This season beat his 3-8-11 totals in 54 games in 2014-2015 and his 3-16-19 totals in 60 games played in 2011-2012. Nearing his prime, Orlov would be ready to move on from Washington if they don’t seem to have the room and someone else is interested in utilizing his services and time.

Honorable Mentions

D Danny DeKeyser (8-12-20 totals with the Detroit Red Wings)- $2.188 million cap hit, 25 years old

There’s not much else in the RFA defensemen outlet store, so sometimes this is what you got to get. Then again, the Detroit Red Wings should lock up Danny DeKeyser for as long as they can, while locking out Kyle Quincey from the Joe Louis Arena (and Little Caesars Arena, just to be safe).

D Cody Ceci (10-16-26 total with the Ottawa Senators)- $894,166 cap hit, 22 years old

I’ll be completely partial and throw it out there that I’m a fan of the underdog in Cody Ceci. In three seasons, his points have increased from nine in 49 games played in 2013-2014 to 21 points the next season, to 26 points this season. He’s only 22, so as long as you get him out of Ottawa, there’s a good chance there’s still hope with him. All joking aside, the Senators shouldn’t make the mistake of letting another quality, low cost, high reward defenseman get away too soon.

Numbers Game: Top-5 Pending RFA Forwards

By: Nick Lanciani

12:01 PM ET on July 1st (precisely) marks the start of the NHL’s free agency period, so of course, you’ve found yourself scavenging the Internet for the freshest hot takes and the best indications of where players will end up. Likewise, you probably just want to know who’s available out there (and I’m not talking about Tinder).

Well fear not, because I’m here to set things straight with a short series of posts about the Top-5 free agents in every category you can think of (UFA forwardsUFA defensemen, UFA goalies, RFA forwards, RFA defensemen and RFA goalies) in this latest edition of Numbers Game posts. RFAs are fun, RFAs are cool, but here’s the thing, other general managers will hate you forever apparently if you offer sheet one of their guys.

Down the Frozen River- Smaller Circular Logo1. LW Johnny Gaudreau (30-48-78 totals with the Calgary Flames)- $925,000 cap hit, 22 years old

If you’re going to offer sheet somebody, better offer sheet the best. And scoring wise, newsflash, it’s Johnny Gaudreau. He had 24-40-64 totals in 80 games his rookie season with the Calgary Flames in 2014-2015 and improved his sophomore year with 30-48-78 totals in 79 games this season. It shouldn’t be hard to tell that he’s in for a major payday coming off of his entry level contract with the Flames. And if you’re going to be that GM that goes hard in the paint, you might as well go hard in the paint from the gate.

Now watch all these RFAs (re)sign a deal before free agency opens, or just stay put and not touch any offer sheets that might come in.

2. RW Nikita Kucherov (30-36-66 totals with the Tampa Bay Lightning)- $711,666 cap hit, 22 years old

Nikita Kucherov has averaged 65.5 points in the last two seasons. Talk about consistency. That’s also quite an improvement from his rookie year totals of 9-9-18 in 52 games in 2013-2014. Since then he’s emerged as a high-end talent for the Tampa Bay Lightning, who have a plethora of young, pending RFAs both now and in the future to concern themselves with (and the expansion draft in June 2017). So good luck to Lightning general manager, Steve Yzerman, or then again, maybe he doesn’t need any luck, since he was able to keep Steven Stamkos around for as long as his roster is going to be lighting them up in Tampa.

3. C Alex Killorn (14-26-40 totals with the Tampa Bay Lightning)- $2.550 million cap hit, 26 years old

And for even more consistency, we have Alex Killorn, who’s averaged 39.7 points in the last three seasons. Surely Tampa’s going to have a handful with this offseason when it comes to keeping their talent happily signed under the salary cap. Killorn came into the league in the 2012-2013 lockout shortened season and had 7-12-19 totals in 38 games in his rookie year, which isn’t too shabby either, considering everything. Do I have to keep repeating myself now?

4. C Nathan MacKinnon (21-31-52 totals with the Colorado Avalanche)- $925,000 cap hit, 20 years old

Mixing up the order a bit (if you had’t noticed, I inadvertently arranged them by points), Nathan MacKinnon falls to fourth on my top-5 list, not because’s he’s bad, but rather because Tampa is all but sure to see some chaos in the offer sheet department this offseason. I pretty much guarantee it with Jim Benning as the Vancouver Canucks general manager, Peter Chiarelli in Edmonton and some hungry, hungry, hockey teams around the league.

Because of this factor, Colorado might see some intrigue if they cannot lock up MacKinnon or Tyson Barrie. Of note, MacKinnon had 24-39-63 totals in 82 games in his rookie season of 2013-2014. He suffered a set back due to injury in 2014-2015 with 14-24-38 totals in 64 games.

5. LW Marcus Johansson (17-29-46 totals with the Washington Capitals)- $3.750 million cap hit, 25 years old

Marcus Johansson has been a 40+ point scorer in four of his six seasons so far with the Washington Capitals. A bit older than some of the other quality pending RFAs, Johansson finds himself at a crossroads where he plays with the Capitals, but could easily slide into another lineup and become just another overpaid player if someone’s not careful. It kind of helps when T.J. Oshie, Alex Ovechkin, Nick Backstrom and others are on your team, but then again Johansson has been consistent, regardless of whatever you believe. If you’ve got the time, money and draft picks, go for it. I’m all for watching teams get into a war of words over offer sheets.

Honorable Mentions

LW Chris Kreider (21-22-43 totals with the New York Rangers)- $2.475 million cap hit, 24 years old

The New York Rangers are aging and up against the salary cap. Knowing that Rick Nash is potentially at play on the trade market, will they be able to keep Chris Kreider around long enough to resign him or will someone swoop in and toss him an offer sheet?

C Vladislav Namestnikov (14-21-35 totals with the Tampa Bay Lightning)- $874,125 cap hit, 23 years old

The formula for this one is simple, steal a good, young Lightning forward before they notice while they work out deals with their other good, young, pending RFA forwards.

Numbers Game: Top-5 Pending UFA Goalies

By: Nick Lanciani

12:01 PM ET on July 1st (precisely) marks the start of the NHL’s free agency period, so of course, you’ve found yourself scavenging the Internet for the freshest hot takes and the best indications of where players will end up. Likewise, you probably just want to know who’s available out there (and I’m not talking about Tinder).

Well fear not, because I’m here to set things straight with a short series of posts about the Top-5 free agents in every category you can think of (UFA forwards, UFA defensemen, UFA goalies, RFA forwards, RFA defensemen and RFA goalies) in this latest edition of Numbers Game posts. Also, I have bad news, if you came here expecting to find a starting goaltender, you won’t find one.

Down the Frozen River- Smaller Circular Logo1. G Chad Johnson (22-16-0-4, 2.36 GAA, .920 SV% with the Buffalo Sabres)- $1.300 million cap hit, 29 years old

Chad Johnson is the closest thing to a starting goaltender, compared to the majority of the rest of the pending UFA goalies. Goalies are weird. They have no timetable for development, they’re unpredictable and most everyone seems to make whatever conjecture imaginable about whether or not a goalie is good or not, worthy of starting or a lifetime backup (or #AHLLifer, but that might just be a running joke here).

Johnson is a solid backup (dare my circa 2010 self say it). In 45 games played for Buffalo this season, he racked up 22 wins, a 2.36 GAA and a .920 SV%. While that might not look elite compared to other goaltenders around the NHL, Johnson has been an entirely different goaltender since his 2.10 GAA and .925 SV% in 27 games with the Boston Bruins in 2013-2014. Granted, his goal against average crept past the 3.00 mark in 2014-2015 with his 19 game stint with the New York Islanders, with the right team, Johnson can solidify your crease.

If you even have a better blue line than most teams around the NHL, perhaps Johnson could be the next Martin Jones to emerge as a goalie that never really had a chance to fully take control of a number one starting job, without any competition, and run with it.

Look, at $1.300 million this season, Johnson is not much of a risk to take in the coming years if you sign him to a multiyear contract. The hope is that he continues his upswing as long as you balance his time and/or have a good enough team in front of him. Johnson is one of those underrated, feel good stories and who wouldn’t want to see him succeed?

2. G Jhonas Enroth (7-5-0-1, 2.17 GAA, .922 SV% with the Los Angeles Kings)- $1.250 million cap hit, 27 years old

Jhonas Enroth is not a starting goalie. Now that that’s out of the way, here’s why. He had his best career save percentage with the Los Angeles Kings this season at a .922 in 16 appearances and he even had his best goal against average (2.17) in 10 games played or more of his career.

Compared to the time Enroth split time with the Buffalo Sabres and the Dallas Stars in 2014-2015 when he had a 18-26-0-2 record in 50 games played with a .904 SV% and 3.07 GAA, he’s a changed goaltender when he has 1) a defense in front of him and 2) a backup role that limits him to around 20 games a season. The 2014-2015 season was his worst campaign since his first career NHL start in the 2009-2010 season, when he debuted his NHL career with a .892 SV% and a 4.12 GAA.

The moral here is that Enroth is better than most people give him credit for, however, many still question his stature in a 6′ by 4′ net. And with smaller pads coming to the league, his play is bound to be affected by that. But alas, the old days of 3.00 GAA and .800 SV%’s being tremendous might finally return if you like offense. We’ve come to know low 2.00 and high 1.00 GAA’s as standard, when in actuality, pretty much any goalie under a 3.00 is better than you would think.

Again, it all boils down to the role of the goalie and how much usage they get. Another season like this season for Enroth would be respectable if he continues to be a top-notch backup that plays in anywhere from 20 to 25 games a year.

3. G James Reimer (17-14-0-7, 2.31 GAA, .922 SV% with the Toronto Maple Leafs/San Jose Sharks)- $2.300 million cap hit, 27 years old

Don’t laugh, but James Reimer might finally be starting to turn the corner and become a good goaltender. In 40 games played with the Toronto Maple Leafs and the San Jose Sharks this year, he had a 17-14-0-7 record, 2.31 GAA and a .922 SV%. His GAA and SV% this year were both career bests in the most number of games he’s played in a single season.

Granted, his record could still use some room for improvement in the “wins” column, Reimer is ready to make a run at being a number one goalie on the right team. If Calgary tightens their defense and feels like making newly acquired goaltender, Brian Elliott, compete for his number one spot, similar to how he battled Jake Allen in St. Louis, then Reimer is their man.

Then again, they probably should stick with what they’ve got. But my point remains, James Reimer can be good after all. I’ve said it before, goalies are weird. In six NHL seasons, Reimer has had a goal against average of 3.10 or more three times, all with the lackluster Maple Leafs. Of note, his 2.31 GAA performance beat his 2.46 GAA in 2012-2013 when he played in 33 of the 48 game lockout shortened season.

Take it or leave it, Reimer is a solid choice for your net if you have the right guys in front of him. He might not be a starter (yet), but his skills can still be honed in before it’s too late. At only 27 years old, he likely has at least 10 more years of playing in front of him.

4. G Anton Khudobin (3-3-0-0, 2.69 GAA, .909 SV% with the Anaheim Ducks)- $2.250 million cap hit, 29 years old

Chalk Anton Khudobin up as another solid backup goaltender— if you have the right defense for him. He might not be stealing wins in the “wins” column, but Khudobin has shown flashes of quality stats in both goals against average and save percentage.

Last season, Khudobin made only nine appearances before the Anaheim Ducks settled on Frederik Andersen and John Gibson as their goaltending tandem. Of course, Andersen was traded to Toronto earlier this month and Gibson is now considered their number one guy, so why would they risk the chance of losing out on a decent backup when you consider their other option (they have none).

Khudobin’s 2013-2014 season campaign with the Carolina Hurricanes resulted in 36 games played with a .926 SV% and a 2.30 GAA. Since then he has not seen the same action or numbers, but there’s a good chance that with the right mix of players, Khudobin could bail a team out in a game or two and play as a backup in 20 to 25 games.

By now I’m sure you’ve recognized my trend. Backup goalies should only play 20 to 25 games, depending on who they are. If they prove more value to you, based on their performance, up their appearances to 30. But if you’re considering splitting time between your goalies, get two starters. Don’t waste your time mismanaging a position you can’t fully manage in net.

5. G Jonas Gustavsson (11-9-0-1, 2.72 GAA, .908 SV% with the Boston Bruins)- $700,000 cap hit, 31 years old

Before you start breaking out the jokes about Jonas Gustavsson, consider this; Gustavsson only has one losing season as a backup goaltender in seven seasons in the NHL since 2009-2010 with Toronto and stops with the Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins. His career save percentage has hovered right around .900 and he’s only had a season that ended with a GAA of more than 3.00 once (a 3.28 in 2009-2010).

When there’s not much else to choose from, sometimes it’s best to take a stab at someone who can hold you over for a year or two as a quality backup. He should play nowhere near 40 games, nor should he only play seven, as he’s done twice in his career, both with the Red Wings (once in the shortened 2012-2013 season and again in 2014-2015). Actually, you know what? His numbers don’t really show how much you should use him one way or another.

I’ll admit, I was scratching for a fifth goaltender to include in my top-5 pending UFA goalies (no offense to Gustavsson). The fact of the matter is that the talent pool in the crease is extremely thin this offseason, so it’s best to just get what you’re money can buy to hold you over without overpaying and/or develop your guys in the system.

Honorable Mentions

G Ben Scrivens (5-8-0-0, 3.07 GAA, .906 SV% with the Montreal Canadiens)- $2.300 million cap hit, 29 years old

Ben Scrivens has never had a GAA less than 2.55— and that was when he split the 2013-2014 season with Los Angeles and the Edmonton Oilers. So that pretty much explains everything, given that he’s also played for Toronto and most recently Montreal in his career that spans all the way back to the 2011-2012 season.

He’s certainly not a starter and he’s definitely not worth $2.300 million as a back up, but if there’s no one else left, he’s going to be paid whatever amount of money to stand in the net for some team (like what Montreal did before they had Mike Condon take the brunt of the work and handle it as well he could with what little the Canadiens had going for them while Carey Price was hurt).

G Karri Ramo (17-18-0-1, 2.63 GAA, .909 SV% with the Calgary Flames)- $3.800 million cap hit, 29 years old

It appears the Calgary Flames are ready to throw in the towel on trying to develop the once considered top prospect of the Tampa Bay Lightning. In six NHL seasons, broken up by a stint in the KHL, Ramo has never had a season with a GAA better than 2.60 or a SV% better than .912.

It’s not the save percentage that bothers me, but rather, it’s that goals against average that’s a little concerning for any team that chooses to sign a goalie that made 37 appearances this season and surmounted a 2.63 GAA and a .909 SV%. Perhaps there’s one more shot left for Ramo, but at whatever price is under a million dollars and for a backup role. Again, if you had to, he’s someone to take in free agency over whatever might be left for a year.

G Anders Lindback (5-7-0-1, 3.11 GAA, .894 SV% Arizona Coyotes- $875,000 cap hit, 27 years old

In 2011-2012, Anders Lindback proved he could be a decent backup with a 16 game performance that resulted in a career best 2.42 GAA and a .912 SV% that season, despite a 5-8-0 record.

When he was with the Nashville Predators, he had blue liners in front of him to prevent chances and Pekka Rinne to play more than the majority of the games of the season. Lindback’s bounced all around the league and might have settled in with the Arizona Coyotes if it weren’t for Louis Domingue as an up and comer for the Coyotes. For a low-risk, high reward opportunity, why not take a 27 year old backup goaltender for a year or two and see if he can improve with a better team in front of him?

Numbers Game: Top-5 Pending UFA Defensemen

By: Nick Lanciani

12:01 PM ET on July 1st (precisely) marks the start of the NHL’s free agency period, so of course, you’ve found yourself scavenging the Internet for the freshest hot takes and the best indications of where players will end up. Likewise, you probably just want to know who’s available out there (and I’m not talking about Tinder).

Well fear not, because I’m here to set things straight with a short series of posts about the Top-5 free agents in every category you can think of (UFA forwards, UFA defensemen, UFA goalies, RFA forwards, RFA defensemen and RFA goalies) in this latest edition of Numbers Game posts. So let’s continue our journey with the lackluster UFA defensemen market this summer.

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1. D Jason Demers (7-16-23 totals with the Dallas Stars)- $3.400 million cap hit, 27 years old

Look, none of these defensemen are spectacular, but they’re all about to be paid ridiculous sums of money because of that good ol’ supply and demand factor. A lot of teams need to fix their blue line, not a lot of defensemen can do that for them. Your best bet is to trade for a defensemen if you can’t at least patch some wounds (and hope they turn out better than expected) with these guys.

To start, let’s take a look at Jason Demers who is the best of this group, in terms of age, experience and a chance to supply you a little more depth and stability. His season was cut short due to injury, but he managed to put up a respectable 23 points on the season in 62 games played, which almost matched his 25 point season in 2014-2015 in 81 games played with Dallas and the San Jose Sharks.

His career year was in 2013-2014 when he notched 5-29-34 totals in 75 games played for the Sharks, but judging from how he was tracking this season, despite the injury, he might have been able to pace, if not better, his career best totals.

A healthy Demers at only 27 years old is a risk worth taking if you are in desperate need of a guy or you cannot find a trading partner. His value will be driven up immensely compared to some of the other older UFA defensemen. Likewise, he’s better at the defensive aspect of the game than Kris Russell, so he’s sure to be a hot commodity if teams are smart.

2. D Brian Campbell (6-25-31 totals with the Florida Panthers)- $7.143 million cap hit, 36 years old

Brian Campbell was an almost 40 point scorer in 2013-2014 and he’s certainly nothing like his former self in 2007-2008 when he had 8-54-62 totals in 83 games for the Buffalo Sabres and the San Jose Sharks.

Although age doesn’t appear to be an issue for his competitiveness.

With proper balance on a lineup with some already mature defensemen, like the Chicago Blackhawks, where he has a distinct interest in returning, Campbell could have his minutes easily distributed and become a clutch asset for an organization in the waning years of his career. Because of that, a short term contract only seems logical.

In 82 games this season, Campbell had 6-25-31 totals with the Florida Panthers. That’s only five points shy of Aaron Ekblad’s sophomore season 36 points in 78 games, but one defenseman is sure to shine and the other will soon decline. Though it can’t hurt to take on Campbell while he’s still capable of producing.

3. D Luke Schenn (4-12-16 totals with the Philadelphia Flyers/Los Angeles Kings)- $3.600 million, 26 years old

Chalk Luke Schenn up as one of the best “why not, maybe he still has something to prove” potential UFA defensemen. Schenn’s been in the league since the 2008-2009 season and has played for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Philadelphia Flyers and the Los Angeles Kings.

Although he was kind of an afterthought in the late season acquisition by the Kings in the Vincent Lecavalier trade, we’re talking mostly depth guys that can solidify your top-6 defensive scope on the blue line this offseason.

Schenn usually ends up with somewhere around 20 points a year, ranging from a career low 3-8-11 totals in 47 games played during the 2012-2013 lockout shortened season to a career high 22 points in 2010-2011 (82 games played) and 2011-2012 (79 games played). His numbers this season could have been around 20 points or more, had he not played in only 72 games. Maybe there’s still hope if you find him the right pair.

Whatever you do, just don’t over pay or let him over stay. Give Schenn another chance to prove his worth and maybe things will work out. If not, he’ll be trade bait once again around the trade deadline, when teams are searching for just about any depth defenseman.

4. D Patrick Wiercioch (0-5-5 totals with the Ottawa Senators)- $2.000 million cap hit, 25 years old

Highly underrated and touted as a “should have been traded at the deadline while you still could’ve gotten an asset in return,” Patrick Wiercioch is a defenseman that might be able to help you now, but still has plenty of room to grow, develop and be groomed properly.

If you’re the Ottawa Senators you have got to be kicking yourselves for not trying. If you’ve seen the asset management around the league lately when it comes to trades, who knows, maybe the Senators would have been able to walk away with two or three decent draft picks and maybe even a roster player had they moved Wiercioch in March. I mean, I’m sure Don Sweeney would’ve taken that deal, based on how the Boston Bruins acquired John-Michael-Liles.

But enough about other guys, more on Wiercioch’s playing ability.

If there’s one positive for sure to signing Wiercioch in free agency it’s that he’s 25 years old. Defensemen normally start to reach their prime around 27 years of age and until then are very malleable in the right circumstances. The question is how much are teams willing to pay and how much is he going to drive the price up for his services because the ball is in his court— or should I say the puck is in his zone?

His services were dismal this season though, notching five assists in 52 games played. Granted, Ottawa juggled him in and out of the lineup more times than he could have been able to get any rhythm going. In 53 games in 2013-2014, Wiercioch had 4-19-23 totals as a young 23-year-old hungry for more.

5. D Kris Russell (4-15-19 totals with the Calgary Flames/Dallas Stars)- $2.600 million cap hit, 28 years old

In this year’s “bound to be overpaid, but since there’s no one else available, he’ll easily get overpaid and sign a long contract, reminiscent of Brooks Orpik’s deal with the Washington Capitals” category, we have Kris Russell.

In 62 games played he had 4-15-19 totals among his time with the Calgary Flames and the Dallas Stars this season. The trade deadline pickup by Stars GM Jim Nill didn’t pan out as well as he had been performing in Calgary, though, when Russell went from a top-4 to a top-6 defenseman (if that in Dallas).

Yes, his scoring was up in 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 from 29 points to 34 points, however, the secondary assist is still a thing that exists and the Flames as a whole have dramatically improved their offense with Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and company.

Buyer beware, Russell might be a top-5 pending UFA defenseman, but he’s really one of the worse options and has traveled around the league a bit from his rookie year with the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2007-2008. He’s since made visits with the St. Louis Blues, Flames and Stars as the 28 year old has yet to play a full 82 game season and faces a shaky performance.

Honorable Mentions

D Eric Gryba (1-5-6 totals with the Edmonton Oilers)- $1.250 million cap hit, 27 years old

In 53 games played with the dismal Edmonton Oilers, Eric Gryba put up 1-5-6 totals, which is not good, but not bad either. If anything, it shows you that Gryba is an average guy, who, when not injured or out of the lineup as a healthy scratch, can be a dependable top-6 defenseman when you need a quick fix.

He’s no end all solution to any problem, by any means. He’s just a guy that in the right environment, could really take his career best 0-12-12 totals in 2014-2015 and at least match it, if not improve it and/or double it. A lot of teams see no more second chances in Gryba, but clearly Peter Chiarelli wanted him for something in Edmonton when he acquired him. Maybe now Gryba can find a better roster at his discretion.

D John-Michael Liles (6-15-21 totals with the Carolina Hurricanes/Boston Bruins)- $3.875 million cap hit, 35 years old

When you’re in a jam like Sweeney was, you go out and get a veteran defenseman to give you a better chance than a bunch of pylons. Okay, jokes aside about the Bruins defense, John-Michael Liles actually had a lot to contribute, before missing the last game of the regular season due to injury.

Liles floats around 20 points a season as one of those sturdy top-6, bottom pair, defensemen, that can play top-4 minutes when you need someone to step up. In 2010-2011 with the Colorado Avalanche, Liles had 6-40-46 totals in 76 games played. Likewise, his career best 14-35-49 totals in 82 games came back on a very different looking Avalanche roster of the 2005-2006 season. Liles was also a lot fresher then and highly underrated. But nowadays, he’s that quality veteran defensive voice on your roster that absolutely still has a place in this league for a few more years.

D Zach Trotman (2-5-7 totals with the Boston Bruins)- $625,000 cap hit, 25 years old

If you’re willing to take a risk on any pending-UFA defensemen and you don’t get one of the highly coveted players already mentioned, why not take a risk on young Zach Trotman? It’s perplexing when one analyzes Boston’s depth chart and their use of Trotman as to why they are not giving him at least one more year, but maybe he’s the next Matt Hunwick.

Disregarded as a potential top-4 defenseman, Hunwick and Trotman have a lot in common. They weren’t utilized properly. Hunwick’s now found his stride, albeit older and as a top-6/depth defenseman with the Maple Leafs, while Trotman has the chance to double his career totals, if only someone would let him play more than the 38 games he played this season. Perhaps the last pick of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft could be more valued than the top six picks of that draft year? Only time will tell, but one thing remains for sure, all six of those guys got traded.

Numbers Game: Top-5 Pending UFA Forwards

By: Nick Lanciani

12:01 PM ET on July 1st (precisely) marks the start of the NHL’s free agency period, so of course, you’ve found yourself scavenging the Internet for the freshest hot takes and the best indications of where players (ahem, Steven Stamkos) will end up. Likewise, you probably just want to know who’s available out there (and I’m not talking about Tinder).

Well fear not, because I’m here to set things straight with a short series of posts about the Top-5 free agents in every category you can think of (UFA forwards, UFA defensemen, UFA goalies, RFA forwards, RFA defensemen and RFA goalies) in this latest edition of Numbers Game posts.

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1. C Steven Stamkos (36-28-64 totals with the Tampa Bay Lightning)– $7.500 million cap hit, 25 years old

Steven Stamkos is a franchise player. Period. He could stay in Tampa after all and crush every free agent fanatic’s dream of a player that hasn’t been seen since the 2004-2005 season lockout, or he could leave. While there are some teams that I could rule out— Las Vegas being one of them, since they don’t begin play until the 2017-2018 season— it’s anybody’s guess as to where Stamkos might end up.

His 312 goals in 569 career NHL games speak for himself. He’s a two-time 50 goal scorer, having amassed 60 in the 2011-2012 season, and he’s more than capable of increasing your team’s scoring ability all around with the right chemistry. Prior to having his season cut short due to a blood clot, Stamkos had 36-28-64 totals in 77 games.

Stamkos is destined to make anywhere from the same salary as this season up to $10 million AAV. Everybody wants him, if they’ve got the cap room or can make cap space. We might even see the NHL’s first sign-and-trade if a team makes the Lightning an offer they can refuse with Stamkos’s camp in agreement.

Steven Stamkos resigned with Tampa on June 29th- 8 years, $8.500 million AAV.

2. RW/LW Loui Eriksson (30-33-63 totals with the Boston Bruins)- $4.250 million cap hit, 30 years old

The big piece of the Tyler Seguin deal that the Boston Bruins acquired might very well be on the move at his own discretion, since Boston couldn’t get a deal done to Eriksson’s satisfaction, leaving the Bruins with Joe Morrow as the sole survivor of the failed Seguin maneuver.

But like Stamkos, there’s nothing that says the Bruins are out of the picture on this one, unless they are absolutely against giving Eriksson a much deserved raise for his 63 point season.

His 30-33-63 totals tied his 2008-2009 season performance with the Dallas Stars when he had 36 goals and 27 assists. The following three seasons, Eriksson went on to score 71 points or more. If history is any indicator, Eriksson has found his stride in the Eastern Conference and with the right chemistry, will return to his familiar form while hopefully avoiding the injuries that plagued his time in Boston.

Despite his age compared to some of the other top UFAs, there are no downsides to Loui Eriksson— unless you’re a team with plenty of 30 or older players already under contract and you’re trying to get younger.

3. LW Milan Lucic (20-35-55 totals with the Los Angeles Kings)- $6.000 million cap hit, 27 years old

The Edmonton Oilers might be the best situation and most attractive destination for Milan Lucic to return to Canada, play with Connor McDavid and reunite with former Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli at the reigns of the Oilers, but if you can get a chance to offer him a deal, you might as well and see if he listens.

Lucic scored 30 goals in the 2010-2011 regular season en route to winning the Stanley Cup with Chiarelli in Boston and had 11 more points this season (55) with the Kings than he did in 2014-2015 with the Bruins (44).

While he’s sure to receive numerous offers of outrageous sums of money, one thing is for sure. The team that lands him will know exactly what they’re getting from him. A gifted power forward with timely goals when you need them, Lucic has been known to have a temper. But any team can utilize his temper in the right fashion if they have the right roster components to balance the load and control each game.

Someone like Leon Draisaitl suddenly becomes more of an opportunity for Lucic to mentor in Edmonton. Then again, a return to Boston would be welcomed by many TD Garden faithful too.

4. RW Kyle Okposo (22-42-64 totals with the New York Islanders)- $2.800 million cap hit, 27 years old

Players like Kyle Okposo are in high demand in this league and it is crazy to see the New York Islanders letting him go in such a fashion (then again, who isn’t in the Stamkos sweepstakes, if that’s their motivation). Okposo has scored 51 points or more in the last three seasons and is only entering the prime of his career. Where he plateaus is yet to be seen, but he’s got a chance to shine if, say he lands on a roster with Stamkos (or the like).

Teams should be all in on trying to land Okposo if they are in dire need of the elusive right winger as they are in trying to sign Stamkos, but with more realistic expectations.

With the exception of the shortened 2012-2013 season, he’s only failed to record 39 points or more once in 2010-2011 when he was limited to 38 games played due to injuries. The nearly 70 point scorer is highly underrated, but is about to be put into the spotlight due to the free agency affect— what with a large contract certainly heading his way.

There’s no telling what his 51 point season in 2014-2015 would have been if he got to play more than 60 games, in comparison to his 69 points in 71 games in 2013-2014 and 22-42-64 totals in 79 games this season.

5. C Eric Staal (13-26-39 totals with the Carolina Hurricanes/New York Rangers)- $8.250 million cap hit, 31 years old

This summer could be the summer of reunions if Lucic goes back to Boston and 2006 Stanley Cup champion, Eric Staal, heads back to Carolina (it’s like he never left!), but as a general manager, didn’t you mean to get rid of the guy in the first place? Nothing against Staal here, but it’s just a thought about what it means to move on, move forward and find better success with— well, let’s face it— a better team, since the Hurricanes aren’t making waves just yet (though Teuvo Teravainen helps).

Carolina was great to the former 100 point scorer in 2005-2006 and 70+ point scorer up through the 2011-2012 season. But in 83 games between the Hurricanes and New York Rangers, the veteran center couldn’t find his scoring touch with 13-26-39 totals (down from 23-31-54 totals in 77 games in 2014-2015 and 61 points the year before that).

One thing is for sure, though, Staal’s status as a top-6 forward changed with his acquisition in New York, which impacted his play.

For a significant discount, Staal could return to form in the right organization, preferably one that’s a playoff contender, if not a Stanley Cup contender, similar to how Brad Richards spent a year with the Chicago Blackhawks (and won the Cup) in 2015. Staal rounds out my top-5 UFA forward list because there’s still a lot left in him, similar in nature to Joe Thornton, but he needs balance on the roster around him and the right fit.

Of note, Colby wanted me to mention that Staal would add a veteran presence and that he “understands how to be a franchise player.” I think he just wants me to say that Staal should sign with Toronto or Edmonton, but I can’t tell.

Honorable Mentions/ Well if the price is right (and the shoe fits)…

LW Thomas Vanek (18-23-41 totals with the Minnesota Wild)- $6.500 million cap hit, 31 years old

Thomas Vanek has never had a season below 41 points in scoring. In fact, the only other time Vanek scored 41 points was during his 20-21-41 total campaign in the 2012-2013 lockout shortened season with the Buffalo Sabres over 38 games played. Last season, of course, Vanek disappointed the Minnesota Wild with only an 18-23-41 effort in 74 games.

But at the right price of significantly less than $6.5 million, the prolific scorer could see a resurgence in confidence and playing ability. Vanek’s not getting any younger, but he’s still Thomas Vanek even at 31 years old. He might not be the next Jaromir Jagr, but he definitely carries a low risk-high reward potential just the same. Besides, maybe the right change of scenery is just what he needs.

RW Radim Vrbata ( 13-14-27 totals with the Vancouver Canucks)- $5.000 million cap hit, 34 years old

If you’re not sold on signing one of the top guys in free agency for ridiculous dollar amounts, why not try to grab an excellent depth scoring forward for just the right amount of money before he becomes one of the only remaining forwards on the UFA list and has his price inflated because of that whole supply and demand thing?

Okay, that was a long winded way of saying that Radim Vrbata is nowhere near the best player in the league by far, but for less than $5 million and with the right fit, Vrbata could be a quality asset pickup for any team looking to add a veteran presence in the locker room. At 34, Vrbata probably just wants to win and likely isn’t inclined to go after making the opportunity himself in a market where he’d be the main attraction. Coming off a 63 point season in 79 games played in 2014-2015, he fell off the charts for the Vancouver Canucks this year with 27 points in 63 games.

C David Backes (21-24-45 totals with the St. Louis Blues)- $4.500 million cap hit, 31 years old

David Backes plays David Backes style hockey. He hits hard, he plays hard and he’s a good center that finds his time switching between playmaker and scorer en route to usually accumulating at least 40 points a season.

For a team in a pinch to find a quality center to strengthen themselves down the middle for the foreseeable future, Backes would be a great option if you can’t land Stamkos. In 10 seasons with St. Louis, he only had three seasons where he scored 31 points or less. In fact, only his rookie and sophomore years were under 31 points until the 2012-2013 48-game season where he recorded 6-22-28 totals through all 48 games.

Coming off a 21-24-45 season in 79 games this year, his offensive production has dipped over the last three seasons from 57 and 58 point seasons in the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 seasons. But the soon to be former captain of the Blues still plays with all the fire inside him and could bounce back on a team that’s not strapped by the salary cap.

Numbers Game: Look to the Rafters- Winnipeg Jets

By: Nick Lanciani

Many teams chose to retire (or honor) jersey numbers based on extraordinary circumstances, dedication to the organization, or legendary status. With that in mind, what will retired numbers look like around the league in the future? Let’s explore what each team around the NHL might do in the coming seasons for former and/or current players that should see their numbers raised to the rafters someday.

Feel free to speak your mind and drop us a line in the comments or tweet to @DtFrozenRiver using #DTFRNumbersGame.

Unknown-3Winnipeg Jets

Current Retired Numbers- None

 

 

 

Recommended Numbers to Retire

37 Dan Snyder/Rick Rypien

There’s no denying the tragic history that followed the Jets from their Thrashers days. Officially retiring number 37 would be a humbling gesture and one of the best things the Winnipeg front office could do to continue to honor Snyder. Although Rick Rypien never suited up for the Jets and was slated to wear number 11 with them (as they haven’t used number 37 while in Winnipeg- it was retired in Atlanta), his last days in the NHL featured the number on the back of his Vancouver Canucks jersey.

All I’m saying is it would truly bring some closure to all the grief associated with the franchise as well as bring light to the issues of speeding while driving as well as the importance of mental health.

16 Andrew Ladd

Ladd became the Jets first captain when the franchise relocated from Atlanta, so it only seems natural that if he spends the rest of his career in Winnipeg, they’ll set aside number 16 in the rafters of the MTS Centre.

9 Bobby Hull

It was retired previously by the original Winnipeg Jets, now Arizona Coyotes- and still remains retired to this day in Glendale. Evander Kane asked for Hull’s permission to use the number during his days at the MTS Centre, but has since been dealt to the Buffalo Sabres. Perhaps it’s time to set number 9 aside officially, as to many Jets fans it already is.

10 Dale Hawerchuk

The Coyotes retired the number once they reached the desert and once again we have a similar instance here. It’s a once famous number of the previous installation of the Winnipeg Jets. Current Jets center, Bryan Little, refused to wear the number out of respect for Hawerchuk and switched to the number 18 when the Thrashers moved to Winnipeg.

Other Notes

I’m sure we’ll see at least one of the names and their corresponding numbers retired by the Jets someday if they do something significant or stay relevant to the franchise for long enough that they are honored for their dedication to the team. Bryan Little (18), Blake Wheeler (26), Dustin Byfuglien (33), Tobias Enstrom (39), or Mark Scheifele (55) could one day become enshrined in Winnipeg Jets history.

With that the “Numbers Game: Look to the Rafters” series has come to a close. I hope you enjoyed all of it, if not your favorite team’s. To catch up on any you may have missed, simply search click on the “DTFR Numbers Game” tag below and find your team.