NHL Free Agency 2011: The Free Agents Teams Don't Want to Lose
The first day of NHL free agency is this Friday, July 1, and teams are scrambling to sign their best players before other organizations can offer them more money two days from now.
However, not all free agents will get to stay with their teams. Some will be traded, want too much money or just desire a change of scenery.
But even when a trade is made or it is necessary for a player to part ways with a club he has played for several years, it is not always easy. Sometimes, teams have to let go of players they never wanted to give up. Other times, a player looks back fondly on his time with a team but will want to move forward in his career.
This slideshow looks at the one free agent their respective team does not want to give up. The free agents are both of the restricted and unrestricted variety.
When you are reading this, it's natural to say there is no chance of some players leaving their clubs. However, if we learned anything from the Philadelphia Flyers' trade of captain Mike Richards, no one is safe from being told to pack their bags.
Here are the players teams do not want to see in opponents' colors next season or, in one case, on the ice at all.
Anaheim Ducks: Teemu Selanne, Right Wing
Selanne is nearing the end of his career—if he decides to retire, it will not be easy for the Ducks organization.
The soon to be 41-year-old alternate captain of the Ducks had 80 points this year and six goals and seven points in six playoff games.
Selanne has represented the Ducks at five NHL All-Star Games (1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2007) and was a member of Anaheim's 2007 Stanley Cup team. He is one of three European players to score more than 600 NHL goals, and he holds several Ducks records. He has the most career goals (410) and points (871) in Anaheim's franchise history.
He is expected to make a decision about his future before free agency starts on Friday.
Boston Bruins: Brad Marchand, Center
The Bruins gave Marchand a qualifying offer, so they will retain his rights as free agency gets underway. Marchand does not have the ability to file for arbitration.
The young center played his first full NHL season this year and posted 41 points and a plus-25 rating. His totals included two power-play goals, five shorthanded goals and four game-winning goals.
Marchand really broke out in the playoffs, though, scoring 19 points and posting a plus-12 in 25 playoff games. His points totals led all NHL rookies participating in the postseason. In addition, he was ninth with 16:46 of ice time.
Buffalo Sabres: Steve Montador, Defenseman
Montador has been with the Sabres for the last two seasons. After finishing with 23 points in 2009-10, he improved to 26 points in 2010-11 and also had a plus-16 rating. He was eighth with 86 hits and 138 blocked shots.
During the regular season, he was fourth with 19:43 of ice time and 2:04 of ice time on the penalty kill.
Montador had one assist in six playoff games and was sixth with 3:06 played while the Sabres were shorthanded. He was also fifth with nine blocked shots.
Update: Prior to this article's publication, Montador's negotiating rights were traded to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Calgary Flames: Brendan Morrison, Center
The Flames do not have many, if any, appealing players headed for free agency, so this was a tough choice. Ultimately, though, I settled on Morrison, a forward with over 800 games of NHL experience.
Morrison played his first season in Calgary after spending the 2009-10 season with the Washington Capitals. He was fifth on the Flames with 43 points and second with a plus-13 rating. He also had three power-play goals, one shorthanded goal and one game-winning goal.
He was seventh with a 49.6 percent faceoff win percentage and two minutes of ice time logged on the penalty kill.
Carolina Hurricanes: Erik Cole, Right Wing
Cole, a member of Carolina's 2006 Stanley Cup team, had 52 points this year and was fourth on the squad in scoring. He was also fourth in the NHL with nine game-winning goals.
In addition, he was second on the Hurricanes with 225 hits and ninth with 18:27 of ice time. He rebounded from an injury-ridden 2009-10 which saw him score just 16 points in 40 games.
Chicago Blackhawks: Michael Frolik, Left Wing
Frolik came to the Blackhawks this season in a trade with the Florida Panthers. He had 38 points in a combined 80 games with the Panthers and the Hawks. Although this season saw the lowest point production of his career, it was still his third 30-point season.
He had five points in seven games in his first playoff appearance and scored on the first penalty shot in the Blackhawks' postseason history.
Colorado Avalanche: Ryan O'Byrne, Defenseman
O'Byrne came to Colorado after a trade with the Montreal Canadiens and had 10 points in 67 games. Although he did not light up the scoresheet, it was his other contributions that helped the Avs.
He was fifth with 2:44 of ice time on the penalty kill and third with 20:24 of ice time overall. He was also first with 168 hits and second with 126 blocked shots.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Jan Hejda, Defenseman
Hejda had his second 20-point season this year for an even 20 points in 77 games. He was third among Blue Jackets defensemen in scoring.
He also played top minutes, logging 2:50 of ice time on the penalty kill and 21:07 per game overall. In addition, he led Columbus with 158 blocked shots and fifth with 152 hits.
We have yet to see how the addition of Jeff Carter and possibly defenseman James Wisniewski (whose negotiating rights were acquired by the Jackets today) will impact the Jackets, but one thing is for sure: It's never easy to lose one of your top players, and it feels even worse when your organization is struggling.
Dallas Stars: Brad Richards, Center
We have known for some time that Richards will be on his way out of Dallas, but that doesn't mean he won't be missed on the Stars.
Richards was the Stars' leading scorer this year with 77 points and was 10th in the NHL in scoring. He also had seven power-play goals and three game-winning goals. Since coming to Dallas in 2008, he has had at least 50 points each year.
The alternate captain was eighth with a 50.6 percent faceoff win percentage and fourth with 21:43 of ice time per game. He led the team with 5:20 of ice time on the Stars' man advantage.
Detroit Red Wings: Patrick Eaves, Right Wing
This year, Eaves had 20 points in 63 games for the Wings while scoring two power-play goals, one shorthanded goal and one game-winning goal. He also had four points in 11 playoff games.
During the season, Eaves was fourth with 2:41 of ice time on the penalty kill. In the playoffs, he was ninth with 17 hits and eighth with nine blocked shots. He was also fourth with 2:15 of ice time while Detroit was shorthanded.
While doing research on Eaves' contract, I noticed that many Wings fans are high on him, with some even comparing him to Dan Cleary. We don't know yet how Eaves' career will finish but, for me, that was enough to list him as the free agent the Wings don't want to lose.
Edmonton Oilers: Andrew Cogliano, Center
Cogliano posted 35 points this year for the third 30-point season of his career, and he bounced back after his production was on a downswing for the last two years. He also put up one shorthanded goal and three game-winning goals.
He was seventh on the Oilers with 89 hits and third with 2:43 of ice time on the penalty kill. In addition, he has played in all 82 games during each of his four seasons in Edmonton.
The Oilers will need his durability for another year after several of their key players struggled with injuries during the 2010-11 season.
Florida Panthers: Tomas Vokoun, Goaltender
Although it seemed all but certain that Vokoun would be on the market this summer, Panthers general manager Dale Tallon told NHL.com on Wednesday afternoon that he hopes he can keep Vokoun in Florida.
"We're in negotiations with him as we speak and we're very hopeful," Tallon said in a phone interview.
"That's all I can tell you."
It would be to the Panthers' benefit to lock up Vokoun again. He has been with the team since 2007-08 and has posted at least 20 wins every year, even on a mediocre Panthers squad. In 2010-11, he went 22-28-5 with six shutouts (sixth in the league in shutouts) to go with a .922 save percentage and 2.55 GAA.
He also represented Florida at the 2008 NHL All-Star Game, a season in which he posted 30 wins.
Los Angeles Kings: Drew Doughty, Defenseman
The Kings would have to be crazy to let go of their 21-year-old defenseman, who is establishing himself as one of the best blueliners not only on the Kings, but in the NHL.
Doughty had 40 points this year for his second 40-point season and was second among Los Angeles defensemen in scoring. He also had five power-play goals and three game-winning goals. During the playoffs, he had four points in six games.
In the regular season, he was sixth with 137 hits and fourth with 101 blocked shots. He was also first with 25:38 of ice time per game and 4:10 on the man advantage. He was also sixth with 2:02 of ice time on the penalty kill.
He was again a leader during the playoffs, logging 27:08 of ice time and 4:54 of ice time on the power play. He was seventh with 2:19 on the penalty kill and third with 13 blocked shots.
Minnesota Wild: Antti Miettinen, Right Wing
Miettinen had 35 points in 73 games this year while tying for the team lead with eight power-play goals and four game-winning goals. He has posted at least 30 points in five of his last six seasons.
In addition, he was seventh with 109 hits and eighth with 17:01 of ice time overall and 2:47 on the power play.
He has played for Minnesota since the 2008-09 season.
Montreal Canadiens: Roman Hamrlik, Defenseman
My original choice here was Hamrlik's fellow defenseman James Wisniewski, but since he could not come to terms with the Habs (see Columbus slide for link), I settled on the veteran Hamrlik.
This morning, Hamrlik turned down a deal with the Habs, as they were only offering him one year and he wanted two or three years. Although they have some talented young defensemen in P.K. Subban and Yannick Weber, it's always tough to let go of a veteran.
This year, Hamrlik had 34 points and a plus-six to go with two power-play goals. He also had three points in seven playoff games.
During the regular season, he led Montreal with 192 blocked shots and was third with 22:16 of ice time. He was also eighth with 2:33 of ice time on the power play. He was first with 19 blocked shots in the playoffs and fifth with 23:20 of ice time.
Nashville Predators: Joel Ward, Right Wing
After putting up 29 points during the regular season (including five power-play goals and four game-winning goals), Ward had a great playoff run as the Predators went to the second round for the first time in team history. He finished with 13 points and a plus-four in 12 playoff games to go with two power-play goals and one game-winning goal.
He was ninth in the regular season with 67 hits and sixth with 57 blocked shots while ranking ninth with a 48.8 percent faceoff win percentage. He was also eighth with 1:52 of ice time on the penalty kill.
During the playoffs, Ward was fifth with 20:25 of ice time and seventh with 2:58 of ice time on the power play. He was eighth with 1:58 played on the penalty kill and seventh with a 39.5 percent faceoff win percentage and 22 hits.
New Jersey Devils: Johan Hedberg, Goaltender
Hedberg played 34 games this year as a backup to Martin Brodeur. He posted a respectable record of 15-12-2 with three shutouts while putting up a .912 save percentage and 2.38 GAA. His GAA improved for the second straight year, and this was the fourth season in a row where he played at least 30 games.
The Devils tendered a qualifying offer to goaltending prospect Jeff Frazee, but he has yet to play a game in the NHL. Bringing back Hedberg would give New Jersey confidence in their goaltending situation for another year.
New York Islanders: Blake Comeau, Right Wing
Comeau had a career season this year, as he was fourth on the Islanders with 46 points. He also had five power-play goals and three game-winning goals (both second on the team) and also had a shorthanded goal.
In addition, he was third with 120 hits, ninth with 2:30 of ice time on the power play and seventh with 2:15 of ice time on the penalty kill. He is a versatile player who should be a part of the Isles' continued re-building efforts.
New York Rangers: Brandon Dubinsky, Center
Dubinsky was the Rangers' leading scorer with 54 points in 77 games while posting four power-play goals, two shorthanded goals and three game-winning goals. He has been improving his totals every season. In the playoffs, he was tied for the team scoring lead with three points in five games.
In the regular season, Dubinsky was fourth with 20:13 of ice time per game and 2:05 played on the penalty kill. He was also seventh with 41 hits and a 52.5 percent faceoff win percentage while ranking sixth with 3:04 of ice time on the power play.
In the playoffs, Dubinsky saw increased responsibilities, as he was fourth on the team with 24:56 of ice time. He was third in power play ice time (3:52) and penalty kill ice time (2:12) and fourth with 20 hits.
As the Rangers' team starts to mature and tries to become a serious playoff contender, Dubinsky will be a key part of the core, and Glen Sather would be insane not to lock him up.
Ottawa Senators: Erik Condra, Right Wing
Much like the Flames, I didn't see anyone on the Senators' full-time roster who would be a free agent that merited a write-up. So, I decided to dig into the prospect pool and picked Erik Condra as a player who should be brought back.
Condra played 26 games with Ottawa this season and posted 11 points, including one power-play goal and two game-winning goals. He played about 16 minutes a game and was even fifth on the team with 1:59 of ice time on the penalty kill.
Condra spent most of the season with the Binghamton Senators of the AHL, where he had 47 points and a plus-20 rating in 55 games. He helped Binghamton to their first Calder Cup title by tallying 17 points in 23 playoff games.
Philadelphia Flyers: Ville Leino, Left Wing
Leino had a breakout season this year, as he put up 53 points and a plus-14 rating through 81 games. He also had five power-play goals and two game-winning goals and was second on the Flyers with a 57.4 percent faceoff win percentage. He was also ninth with 2:18 of ice time on the power play.
During the postseason, he had five points in 11 playoff games and was ninth with 16:46 of ice time.
Phoenix Coyotes: Keith Yandle, Defenseman
Yandle improved on his point totals for the third year in a row and set a career high with 59 points. He also had a plus-12 rating to go with three power-play goals. His points total led all Coyotes defensemen, and he also had five points in four playoff games.
During the regular season, he led Phoenix in both overall ice time per game (24:22) and power play ice time (4:05). He was also second with 103 blocked shots.
In the playoffs, he again led the team with 25:50 of ice time and 4:59 logged while the Coyotes were on the man advantage.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Tyler Kennedy, Center
Although general manager Ray Shero did not give Kennedy a qualifying offer, he indicated that he would like to try to re-sign him before free agency begins.
Kennedy posted his second 30-point season this year and set a career high with 45 points. He provided solid production on the Penguins' faltering power play with seven goals and also had two game-winning goals. He had three points in seven playoff games.
During the postseason, he was sixth with 17:32 of ice time and seventh with 3:43 played on the power play. He was also second with a 66.7 percent faceoff win percentage and eighth with 16 hits.
Kennedy showed an ability to come through in the clutch this season and handle increased minutes as Pittsburgh dealt with injuries. Hopefully, he can reach a deal with the organization.
San Jose Sharks: Ian White, Defenseman
Although White was bounced around a bit this season (he played 78 games with Calgary, Carolina and San Jose), he quietly did his job by posting 26 points and a plus-three rating when the regular season was said and done. He added nine points and a plus-three rating during San Jose's run to the Western Conference Finals.
After coming to San Jose, White finished the regular season ninth on the team with 55 blocked shots and fourth with 19:55 of ice time. In the playoffs, he was sixth with 20:04 of ice time per game, eighth with 2:32 logged on the power play and ninth with 1:49 of ice time on the penalty kill. He was also fourth with 40 blocked shots.
White is a serviceable defenseman who will hopefully be able to settle into one team next season.
St. Louis Blues: T.J. Oshie, Center
Oshie, a fan favorite in St. Louis, had his third 30-point season with 34 points in an injury-shortened season where he played just 49 games. He also had three power-play goals, one shorthanded goal and three game-winning goals.
Not bad for a player who only played a little more than half a season.
In addition, he was ninth with 40 blocked shots and eighth with 1:53 of ice time on the penalty kill.
Update: Oshie was re-signed by the Blues to a one year, $2.35 million deal.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Steven Stamkos, Center
With playoff hero Dwayne Roloson officially signed for another year, the most obvious selection for the free agent the Bolts don't want to lose is star forward Steven Stamkos.
Although Stamkos' production dropped slightly this year, he was still second in the NHL with 45 goals and fifth with 91 points. He was also second with 17 power-play goals and seventh with eight game-winning goals.
The 2011 NHL All-Star was a little slow out of the gate in the playoffs, but he ended up doing just fine, finishing Tampa's impressive postseason run with 13 points in 18 games.
During the regular season, Stamkos was fifth with 20:11 of ice time and first with 4:32 on the power play while ranking seventh with a 46.5 percent faceoff win percentage.
He was sixth in the playoffs with 19:43 of ice time and first with 4:13 on the power play. He was also fourth with a 50.8 percent faceoff win percentage.
Steve Yzerman is committed to signing Stamkos and will also be ready should he get any offer sheets.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Luke Schenn, Defenseman
Schenn has improved his point totals over the last two years and posted 22 points over 82 games with the Leafs this season.
He led Toronto in both hits (259) and blocked shots (168). He was also fourth with 22:22 of ice time and second with 2:44 of ice time on the penalty kill.
The most recent news on Schenn is that a deal is not expected in the immediate future. However, Brian Burke is confident the two sides will work out a contract. Schenn is one defenseman Burke can't afford to lose.
Vancouver Canucks: Jannik Hansen, Right Wing
Hansen played his first full NHL season this year and finished with 29 points and a plus-13 rating while tallying two game-winning goals. He also had nine points and a plus-seven in 23 playoff games.
He led the Canucks during the regular season with 149 hits while ranking sixth with 2:24 of ice time on the penalty kill. During Vancouver's run to the Stanley Cup Finals, he was eighth with 2:02 of ice time and ninth with 39 hits and 15 blocked shots.
Hansen had a good first season for the Canucks, and he should be given another contract to see what else he can do. Vancouver does not want the opportunity to bring him back to pass them by.
Washington Capitals: Karl Alzner, Defenseman
Alzner is another one of the players on this list who played his first full NHL season this year, and he had 12 points and a plus-14 rating. He also had one assist in nine playoff games, and his performance earned him a qualifying offer from the Capitals.
In the regular season, he was seventh with 98 hits and 20 minutes of ice time. He was also third with 132 blocked shots and ninth with 2:07 of ice time on the penalty kill.
Alzner stepped it up in the playoffs, as he was fifth with 22:44 of ice time and sixth with 2:37 played on the penalty kill. He was also second with 20 blocked shots.
Alzner has not gotten as much attention as fellow defensive star John Carlson, but he could have a breakout season next year and deserves to be re-signed.
Winnipeg Jets: Andrew Ladd, Center
Ladd played his first season in Atlanta (to be Winnipeg this coming season) in 2010-11 after being traded from Chicago. He led the Thrashers in scoring with 59 points and also tallied nine power-play goals, two shorthanded goals and two game-winning goals.
He was also the team captain and has a good shot at being the first captain of the new-look Jets. He also brings solid veteran experience to a team still experiencing growing pains, as he is a two-time Stanley Cup winner.
Note: Apologies for the abbreviated stats. It appears NHL.com took down Atlanta's statistics from last year (time on ice, hits, blocked shots, etc.) and I was unable to get more info on Ladd.