NHL Free Agency: The Top 10 Restricted Free Agents
There is all the hoopla surrounding the NHL Entry Draft at the moment, but there is also a lot of chatter regarding July 1st, when the free agent floodgates open.
However, there is another group that hasn't been discussed that much, and that's the restricted free agents.
These are always younger players that have already come into their own, or are just another season away from being franchise players.
However, most GMs don't make the move on these players, as an offer sheet could be matched by another team and create some animosity for the parties involved.
For a history lesson, take a look back at what happened a few years ago when then-Oilers GM Kevin Lowe made a play for Buffalo's Thomas Vanek and the Sabres matched.
Lowe then turned to Anaheim and was able to lure Dustin Penner away from the Ducks.
If a team wants to, it could make a bold move to land any of these potential building blocks.
Alex Steen, St. Louis Blues
After a decent rookie season for the Maple Leafs back in 2005-06, it looked like the son of former Winnipeg Jet great Thomas Steen would have a big breakout year.
However, he seemed to regress, and was eventually dealt to the St. Louis Blues.
Five years later, it looks like Steen still has some great skill in that body of his, as he put up a career-high 47 points in 68 games.
He has a great chance to hit the 60-point mark next season if he keeps playing the way he did in the second half of 2009-10.
Mason Raymond, Vancouver Canucks
One of the fastest skaters in the entire league, Raymond has become known for more than just his speed last season, as he set career high marks across the board, with 25 goals and 53 points overall, while playing on the second line for the Canucks.
He's only 24, and should only get better with experience.
Last year marked only his third season in the league, so you know more is coming.
Sam Gagner, Edmonton Oilers
The former 6th overall pick has regressed a bit since his rookie season, as he was stuck on 41 points for the second straight year after hitting 49 in his rookie year.
However, he's only 22, and once his frame fills out a bit more, he will be one of the top players for the Oilers for the next decade.
James Neal, Dallas Stars
James Neal has only played two seasons in the league and both years he has crossed the 20-goal plateau.
He started off on fire to begin the 09-10 season, lining up with Brad Richards and Loui Eriksson on the Stars first line.
However, he eventually slowed down, but should be better in his third season.
Eventually, Neal should develop into one of the top power forwards in the league.
Oh, did I mention that he is only 22?
Patric Hornqvist, Nashville Predators
The 23-year-old Hornqvist just completed his second season in the league and it was a doozy.
Despite playing limited minutes for the majority of the season, Hornqvist was still able to notch an even 30 goals, leading the Predators in that category.
With Jason Arnott now traded, more will be expected of him in his third season.
Hornqvist should be up to the challenge.
Wojtek Wolski, Phoenix Coyotes
The talented and most skilled Coyote, Wolski finally was able to put it all together this past season, as he had his most productive season to date in the NHL, scoring a whopping 65 points.
This happened after three up and down seasons that saw the inconsistent Wolski playing everywhere from the first line to getting dropped to the third line.
He was dealt by the Avalanche to Phoenix at the trade deadline, and seems to be a lock in the desert for the long haul.
Chris Stewart, Colorado Avalanche
Stewart was one of the main reasons that the Avalanche were able to shock most pundits and make the playoffs.
The younger brother of former NHL player Anthony, Stewart was even demoted to the minors in early October before getting called up and going on a tear.
28 goals and 64 points later, Stewart's game seems to be likened to Flames captain Jarome Iginla, and if he keeps developing like the Calgary star, then a 50-goal season might not be that far off for the young Av.
Antti Niemi, Chicago Blackhawks
Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks
Bobby Ryan, Anaheim Ducks