Teams still have work to do filling out their rosters for next season, but with finances of paramount importance in the post-lockout NHL, it’s crucial to keep an eye on the distant future as well.
Let’s point the crosshairs at next off-season and look at each team’s top three potential UFAs come July 1, 2009. We’ll start with the Pacific and cover each of the other divisions over the next five Fridays.
Scott Niedermayer ($6.75 million ’08-09 salary)
It’s likely his last season, but some team could offer 10 million reasons to change his mind.
Francois Beauchemin ($1.65 million)
Minute-muncher will benefit any team looking for power play help.
Samuel Pahlsson ($1.4 million)
One of the league’s best shutdown centers will make any team better up the middle.
Other ’09 UFAs – Kent Huskins, Todd Marchant, Brad May, Travis Moen, Steve Montador, Brendan Morrison, Rob Niedermayer, Sean O‘Donnell, George Parros, Mathieu Schneider, Brian Sutherby.
Sergei Zubov ($5.35 million)
NHL’s most underrated defenseman will be 38 when teams come calling. Luckily he plays an economical game.
Jere Lehtinen ($4.1 million)
An older, better-scoring version of Ducks’ Pahlsson; could retire rather than return.
Philippe Boucher ($2.5 million)
Big point shot assures plenty of suitors, even at age 36.
Other ’09 UFA – Joel Lundqvist.
LOS ANGELES KINGS
Jason LaBarbera ($850,000)
If he keeps the Kings competitive next season, some team will pay the 28-year-old handsomely.
Derek Armstrong ($1.6 million)
Journeyman center is useful in the right role, situation.
Kyle Calder ($2.8 million)
Even in today’s wacky pecuniary climate, Calder may have to take a pay cut.
Other ’09 UFAs – Matt Ellis, Denis Gauthier.
Derek Morris ($3.95 million)
Yotes would be smart to offer steady blueliner an extension before July 1; he’d be smart not to sign it.
Steve Reinprecht ($2 million)
Former Wisconsin Badger is solid set-up man; would make good second- or third-line option.
Mikael Tellqvist, ($800,000)
If Andrew Raycroft can find work with an .876 SP, surely Tellqvist’s .908 can get paid, too.
Other ’09 UFAs – Brian McGrattan, Mike Zigomanis.
SAN JOSE SHARKS
Mike Grier ($1.775 million)
No player in the league leads by example better than the gritty 33-year-old.
Jeremy Roenick ($1.1 million)
He’s not as quick as he used to be, but he’s still staying ahead of Father Time.
Kyle McLaren (2.5 million)
Need a somewhat injury-prone, stay-at-home defenseman? McLaren is your man.
Other ’09 UFAs – Rob Blake, Douglas Murray, Tom Cavanagh, Brian Boucher.
Edward Fraser is the editor of thehockeynews.com. His blog normally appears Thursdays.
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