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NHL Rumors: Steven Stamkos, Alex Semin and 20 Stars Who Need New Deals ASAP

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistDecember 2, 2010

NHL Rumors: Steven Stamkos, Alex Semin and 20 Stars Who Need New Deals ASAP

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    As the year progresses, GM's are going to be forced to face the big issues of their teams; restricted and unrestricted free agents.

    Plenty of big name players will be looking for new contracts and will have the opportunity this offseason.  These teams need to lock these players up now to help their teams make a push for the Stanley Cup.

    These are the Top 20 players who are looking for, and deserve, a new contract in my opinion.

    Enjoy.

Brent Seabrook, D, Chicago Blackhawks

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    Brent Seabrook, D, Chicago Blackhawks

    The Chicago Blackhawks have been picked apart by salary woes and this upcoming offseason may see another go. 

    He will be a restricted free agent at the end of this season and will be up for a raise from his three-year, $3.5 million contract.

    Seabrook is a defensive defenseman that has been a solid defender for the ‘Hawks in the regular season and the post season.  He has 13 points through the beginning quarter of the season and has managed 67 hits and 24 blocked shots, making him one of the best defenders in the NHL.

Ryan Callahan, F, New York Rangers

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    Ryan Callahan, F, New York Rangers

    Here is a move that the Rangers have to make.

    Callahan has developed into a fantastic two way forward that could be a key part of a deep playoff run.

    In 25 games, he has seven goals and 12 assists for 19 points, which is second on the Rangers behind another restricted free agent Brandon Dubinsky.

James Wisniewski, D, New York Islanders

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    James Wisniewski, D, New York Islanders

    At 26-years-old, James Wisniewski is a good offensive defenseman that would be a good fit with a shut-down defender.  He will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason and is making $3.25 million this year.

    Eleven of Wisniewski’s 14 points this season have been produced from the power play and he has been a bright spot on a bad Islanders team.

    He’s not terrible defensively, having 31 hits and 23 blocked shots, but he is mainly and offensive defenseman.

Dustin Byfuglien, D, Atlanta Thrashers

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    Dustin Byfuglien, D, Atlanta Thrashers

    Dustin Byfuglien could be one of the most versatile players in the NHL and he has the ability to play the point or play as a forward. 

    Either way, he has the ability to play great offensively and defensively at any position the staff needs him to play.

    At 25-years-old, Byfuglien is earning $3 million this year and will be a restricted free agent at the close of the season.

    Big Buff has 27 points, which ranks him ninth in the league, and he leads the league with five game winning goals.

T.J. Oshie, F, St. Louis Blues

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    T.J. Oshie, F, St. Louis Blues

    This 23-year-old superstar in the making will be a huge part of the revival of St. Louis hockey if he can stay healthy. 

    He is scheduled to become a restricted free agent and is earning $1.275 million this year.  His season has been limited this year because of a broken ankle but he is going to be a hot commodity this offseason.

    In 13 games, he has ten points, four of which were on the power play, and he added 24 hits before suffering a broken ankle.

Keith Yandle, D, Phoenix Coyotes

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    Keith Yandle, D, Phoenix Coyotes

    One of the most underrated defenders in the league, Keith Yandle has helped keep one of the best defensive groups intact in Phoenix.

    Yandle is 24-years-old and will be a restricted free agent at year’s end. 

    The Coyotes have to sign him to keep their defense strong; otherwise they won’t be a contender in the Western Conference.

Luke Schenn, D, Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Luke Schenn, D, Toronto Maple Leafs

    Luke Schenn could be the future of the blue line for the Maple Leafs for years to come if they would be willing to sign him to a long term deal.

    He is 21-years-old and will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season.

    His offensive play hasn’t been amazing but his defensive play has been damn good.  He has managed a +4 while blocking 48 shots and having 67 hits and has helped hold down the blue line in captain Dion Phaneuf’s absence.

Wayne Simmonds, F, Los Angeles Kings

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    Wayne Simmonds, F, Los Angeles Kings

    This is a kid who could be a big part of a young Kings team that has a ton of potential offensively, defensively and in net.

    Simmonds is only 25 and had 40 points last year while earning $525,000.

    While he hasn’t done as well so far this year with just seven points, he has added in other aspects.  Simmonds has 33 penalties in minutes and 33 hits while still learning the NHL.

Ville Leino, F, Philadelphia Flyers

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    Ville Leino, F, Philadelphia Flyers

    The Flyers forward has been nothing short of great since his arrival from Detroit last year.  He helped in the playoffs and has carried the momentum into this season.

    Leino is 27-years-old and seems to be coming together as an NHL player.  He is making $800,000 this year and will probably be looking for a large pay raise.

    Leino has built a rapport with linemates Scott Hartnell and Daniel Briere and has managed 19 points and a +10 over the first portion of the season.

Niclas Lidstrom, D, Detroit Red Wings

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    Nicklas Lidstrom, D, Detroit Red Wings

    At 40-years-old, Lidstrom is still one of the top ten defenders in the league and is being paid as such, earning $6.5 million this year.

    He is the leader of the defense and of the whole team and he needs to come back for at least one more season.  It would be wise for the Red Wings to go after a big name, young defender like Shea Weber and let Lidstrom hand him the reigns.

    Lidstrom has added to the mix consistently on the power play and at even strength.  Over the first 22 games of the season, he has 20 points with 17 being assists.

Ed Jovanovski, D, Phoenix Coyotes

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    Ed Jovanovski, D, Phoenix Coyotes

    Besides Shane Doan, Ed Jovanovski is the biggest part of the success of the Coyotes.

    Jovanovski has been great for the Coyotes and is one of the main reasons that Phoenix made a run last year.

    He is 34-years-old but he seems to have a lot of game left.  He will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year so he might be a hot commodity this offseason.

    Through 21 games, Jovanovski has blocked 30 shots and added 31 hits to the mix; he also has nine points from the offensive end of the ice.

Tomas Vokoun, G, Florida Panthers

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    Tomas Vokoun, G, Florida Panthers

    Tomas Vokoun is always at the top of the league for save percentage but not usually for wins.  The simple explanation of this phenomenon is that he is facing a ton of shots and his team isn’t scoring.

    Minus a few years in Nashville, he has never had the support that he has needed to thrive. 

    It would be in Vokoun’s best interest to leave Florida but if the Panthers want to pay his $5.7 million contract for another year, who knows.

Milan Hejduk, F, Colorado Avalanche

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    Milan Hejduk, F, Colorado Avalanche

    Although he is 34-years-old, Milan Hejduk has been perennially good for the Avalanche over the years.

    Through 24 games this season, Hejduk has been impressive and helped lead a young Colorado team.  He has 19 assists (fifth in the NHL), 27 points (ninth in the NHL), and five power-play goals (seventh in the NHL).

    As an unrestricted free agent, he could draw a lot of attention but I believe that the Avalanche will do the right thing and bring Hejduk back.

Ilya Bryzgalov, G, Phoenix Coyotes

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    Ilya Bryzgalov, G, Phoenix Coyotes

    Phoenix has some big decisions this offseason and if they want to make a serious run, it needs to be this year.

    Veteran goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason and will be looking to make at least the $4.25 million he made this year in the desert.

    Bryzgalov is fourth in the league with ten wins and has maintained a .915 save percentage over the first quarter of the season for the Coyotes.

Sean O'Donnell, D, Philadelphia Flyers

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    Sean O'Donnell, D, Philadelphia Flyers

    Sean O’Donnell was brought into Philadelphia this offseason to try to fix up the backend of the defense and alleviate some time from the overworked top defenders.

    Not only has the experiment worked, its turned out better than could have expected.  O’Donnell has been shut down defensively, posting a league best +17.

    As a veteran and a previous Stanley Cup champion, the Flyers would be foolish to not resign him.  He is only making $1.3 million this year so if we can continue to pay him that much, it would be a nice fit for at least one more year.

    Check out a great interview with Sean O'Donnell!

    Philadelphia Flyers Defenseman Sean O'Donnell Interview: Just One Goal

Shea Weber, D, Nashville Predators

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    Shea Weber, D, Nashville Predators

    In a small hockey market, $4.5 million is a lot of money.

    When it pays for Shea Weber, it’s worth it.  He will be a restricted free agent at the end of this season and will be a 'must sign' for the Predators.

    Weber is one of the best defensemen in the league and has been an excellent captain at only 25 years old.  His offense hasn’t been what the team had hoped for but he has not let his offensive struggle affect his defensive play.

    The Nashville defender has blocked 42 shots and has added 67 hits to stir the pot.  He is one of the most complete defenders in the league.

Drew Doughty, D, Los Angeles Kings

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    Drew Doughty, D, Los Angeles Kings

    At 20 years old, Drew Doughty has exceeded anyone’s expectations of playing defense at the NHL level.  It is one of the hardest positions to play in hockey and experience is a key to being good. 

    Doughty has been the Stamkos of the blue line since being drafted and will be getting paid as such this offseason.  He is a restricted free agent who will command a long term deal worth more annually than he earns against the cap of $3.475 million.

    Doughty battled an injury earlier in the season but has started to get healthy as the season has moved along.  He has seven points while laying 43 hits and blocking 30 shots.  Doughty has a very bright future in LA if they want to keep him.

Brad Richards, F, Dallas Stars

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    Brad Richards, F, Dallas Stars

    If the Stars want to be a contender for the next few years, it would be in their best interest to lock up Brad Richards.

    At 30, Richards is still a very effective forward.  He has 11 goals and 17 assists and is a +11.  With 28 points, he ranks seventh in the league and has been among the elite forwards through the first part of the season.

    He is making $7.8 million this year and will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2011.  If he continues this point pace, he will be in line for a payday along the same lines.

Steven Stamkos, F, Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Steven Stamkos, F, Tampa Bay Lightning

    Steve Yzerman has a handful with this situation.

    Stamkos is about to become a restricted free agent after earning, with salary and player bonuses, $3.725 million each of the last three years.  At 20 years old, his future is bright.

    The Lightning star has been a point machine; he has 21 goals (first in the NHL), 19 assists (fifth in the NHL), 40 points (second in the NHL), ten power-play goals (first in the NHL), and four game winning goals (second in the NHL).  Yzerman better sign him long term!

    This is where I think a 14 year contract could work financially and with the NHL due to his age and abilities.  It would be a wise choice and with the right supporting cast, he could carry a team to a championship.

Alexander Semin, F, Washington Capitals

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    Alexander Semin, F, Washington Capitals

    He could be one of the biggest unrestricted free agents in recent memory if the Capitals don’t lock him up long term.  Semin is making $6 million this year and will be in for a raise if he continues this point pace.

    Semin has been more productive this year than all star teammate Alexander Ovechkin and has been one of the most productive forwards offensively in the league.

    In 25 games this season, he has 18 goals (second in the NHL), 30 points (fifth in the NHL), and six power play goals (third in the NHL).

    With a lot of money locked up on the big stars, the Capitals will be in a salary cap crunch if they sign him and could become less of a contender without him.  He is a must sign but look what the must sign in New Jersey did.

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