NHL Free Agents: Luke Schenn and 8 Up-and-Coming Stars Still Needing a New Deal
The 2011-12 NHL season is almost here, but there are some young players still looking to get paid.
In the following slides, we'll examine eight players that aren't yet 26 years old that are still looking to get paid. Seven of the eight are restricted free agents, and the circumstances of each players' contract issues are unique. Some players are just waiting for their agent and the team to agree on something (money, years, maybe both), while others are trying to determine if there's still a place for them in the locker room they called home last year.
Either way, these eight players carry intriguing value on the ice, even if they haven't determined it financially.
8. Kyle Cuminskey
Cuminskey finally appeared to be putting it together in the NHL in 2009-10, playing in 61 games and posting 20 points before a concussion limited his 2010-11 season to 18 games. The Avs also hope to see Peter Mueller rebound from concussion issues this year, but Cuminskey is really in a tough spot needing a new deal after a short season. The departure of John-Michael Liles might open the door for his return in Denver. As of Sunday, however, he was not signed and is not listed on the Avs' roster.
7. Kyle Turris
Selected third overall in the 2007 NHL Draft after Patrick Kane and James van Riemsdyk, Turris appears to have finally figured out what it takes to stick in the league. He posted 25 points, including 11 goals, in 65 games with Phoenix last year during the regular season and then had a decent postseason showing as well. Unfortunately for Turris, the future looks to be as clouded for him as it does for the franchise; training camp begins in less than two weeks, and he still needs new paper.
6. Anton Stralman
Stralman is in a unique situation in the wake of the Blue Jackets bringing in James Wisniewski and re-signing Fedor Tyutin. The Jackets have committed $10 million to those two defensemen already, and had to buy out Mike Commodore this summer. With 21 players on their NHL roster and some talented young defenseman developing in the system, Stralman might need to look for a new home.
5. Josh Bailey
Selected with the ninth overall selection in the 2009 Draft, the Islanders need Bailey to develop into something special... especially when you consider the top two picks of the rival Rangers in that draft, Michael Del Zotto and Derek Stepan, have each outscored him in fewer combined NHL games. Last year, Bailey scored 11 goals for the Islanders and took a step back from his 2009-10 production. It will be interesting to see if/where Bailey factors into the future with the Isles.
4. Zach Bogosian
The first of three players that were selected in the Top 5 picks of the 2008 Draft to make this list, Bogosian has quietly been a very productive defenseman for the artist-formerly-known-as-the-Thrashers.
With 59 points in 199 career NHL contests, he is a big player who has effectively joined the rush. His name was popular in trade rumors early in the summer, but the Jets didn't pull the trigger on anything. With recent news surrounding Dustin Byfuglien, the Jets may feel pressured to get him locked up despite already having nearly $17 million committed to four defenseman.
3. Brad Marchand
This is a curious standoff. The Bruins are well under the cap for the 2011-12 season, and Marchand was one of the key players during their Stanley Cup run this past spring. He had 19 points in 25 postseason games after a 21-goal regular season, and is reportedly asking for a new salary in the neighborhood of $3 million.
Perhaps the Bruins are looking at Rich Peverley needing a new deal in 12 months as a potential roadblock here, but Marchand was every bit the player for Boston that Dave Bolland was for Chicago in the 2010 playoffs. Annoying centers who can score are also hard to find.
2. Luke Schenn
Another Top 5 pick from the 2008 Draft, Schenn emerged as a star last year in Toronto. In fact, only Schenn and Chicago's Brent Seabrook had at least 200 hits and over 150 blocked shots in the entire NHL last season. The Leafs already have $15.2 million committed to Dion Phaneuf, John-Michael Liles and Mike Komisarek for the 2011-12 season, but Lile's $4.2 million comes off the books after this season.
The issue with Schenn may be similar to the top player on this list; the team and player are further apart in number of years on the contract than they are in dollars.
1. Drew Doughty
Doughty skated with 2010 Norris Trophy-winner Duncan Keith for Canada during the 2010 Winter Olympics and was one of the most impressive young players in the tournament. His game took a step back last year, but he's already been a finalist for the Norris and has a long, bright future ahead of him.
Depending on which rumors you choose to believe, it appears that Doughty and the Kings agree that he'll soon become the highest-paid member of the team but the two sides differ on how long he'll hold that distinction. The Kings have taken some strong steps this summer to be good for a long time (including the trade to acquire Mike Richards from Philadelphia), so locking up their best defenseman is a logical next step.