NHL Free Agents 2012: Ranking the Top 5 Restricted Free Agents

Riley KontekFeatured ColumnistMay 30, 2012

NHL Free Agents 2012: Ranking the Top 5 Restricted Free Agents

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    NHL free agency is set to pick up after the Stanley Cup Final concludes. Teams will be scrambling to sign and re-sign players to bolster their respective squads for the upcoming season.

    Among players that will be looking to be re-signed are the restricted free agents. These men will be courted by their current teams first, but they will also consider offers from outside teams.

    Here are the top five restricted free agents in this offseason.

T.J. Oshie

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    There is no doubt that the St. Louis Blues would love to re-sign T.J. Oshie, a young, productive center that could be a franchise asset for years to come.

    Oshie had 54 points in the 2012 regular season, putting in 19 goals and assisting on 35. He is a key player in the Blues attack, so they would be wise to bring him back.

    Oshie is projected to make a good amount of money on his next contract. Last season, he made $2.35 million, a solid amount of money for a guy his age.

    The Blues may need to cough up a little more money to re-sign him, but he should come back next season.

Carey Price

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    The Montreal Canadiens are coming off of a very forgettable season, but one thing is for sure: They need to re-sign Carey Price.

    The 23-year-old goaltender had a very respectable 2.43 GAA last season. Add to that a .916 save percentage, and you've got yourself a guy that will need to be brought back with a solid contract.

    Last year, he was making $3 million, a very good amount for a goalie his age. The Canadiens should bring him back long term and add some money for incentive to be their franchise goalie.

Kris Versteeg

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    Next up is Kris Versteeg of the Florida Panthers, a young winger who will probably be due a big payday for his efforts.

    Versteeg is coming off of his most productive season in the NHL. Versteeg had 54 points, with 23 of those points being goals. He was one of the stars for the surprising Florida Panthers this year.

    Versteeg was making $3.083 million last season, so expect him to get a bump up in pay. The Panthers cannot let Versteeg walk, as he is still young and getting better each year.

Shea Weber

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    One of the best-paid defensemen in the league is Shea Weber, who will become a restricted free agent this offseason.

    Weber is not far removed from the memory of slamming Henrik Zetterberg's head against the glass in the NHL playoffs. Despite that, Weber figures to earn a healthy payday, as he is the captain of the well-off Predators.

    He had 19 goals in the regular season, a very good mark for a defenseman. He also blocked a lot of shots and did his duties checking opposing forwards.

    He made $7.5 million last year, so expect to see another high figure like that this offseason. The Predators need to bring him back, as he is one of the top defensive players in the NHL.

Evander Kane

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    If there's a restricted free agent that is due a ton of money this contract year, it has to be Evander Kane.

    At 19 years old, Kane has one of the brightest futures in the NHL.

    Last season, Kane had 57 points. Those 57 points were a combination of 30 goals and 27 assists, which have proven the youngster can hang in the NHL. He figures to be a key player on the Winnipeg Jets roster for years to come.

    He made just $0.9 million last year, as again, he isn't even old enough to carouse the bars (though he still probably does).

    The Jets will have to give him a fat contract if they wish to keep him, because I am sure there are other teams that will be making runs at Kane.