NHL Power Rankings: The 20 Best Players Making Less Than $1M

Tab BamfordSenior Writer ISeptember 8, 2011

NHL Power Rankings: The 20 Best Players Making Less Than $1M

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    An upside-down Ilya Kovalchuk? That sounds about right.

    We're looking for some of the best bargains in the NHL heading into the 2011-12 season. Using CapGeek.com to give us accurate cap hit numbers, which guys brought a lot of bang for the buck last year, and which guys are ready for a big raise?

    This list will look around the NHL for guys that provide their teams with great value at a little expense.

20. Justin Abdelkader, Detroit

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    Age: 24
    2011-12 cap hit: $787,500

    Abdelkader scored seven goals and added 12 assists for the Red Wings last year, and won 52.8 percent of his faceoffs. He's a grinder that any team would want on their roster, especially with such a great cap hit.

19. Martin Biron, New York Rangers

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    Age: 34
    2011-12 cap hit: $875,000

    He stepped in when asked last year and was outstanding, posting a .923 save percentage and a 2.13 goals against average in 17 games (15 starts).

18. Kyle Clifford, Los Angeles Kings

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    Age: 20
    2011-12 cap hit: $870,000

    Still just a baby, Clifford is good enough that the Kings felt comfortable after a 14-point rookie season to deal uber-prospect Brayden Schenn. The future is bright for Clifford, who won't turn 21 until mid-January.

17. Viktor Stalberg, Chicago Blackhawks

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    Age: 25
    2011-12 cap hit: $875,000

    After disappointing in Toronto, he was dealt to Chicago and posted 12 goals and 12 assists for the Blackhawks last year. The Hawks re-signed him this summer, and he is expected to put up bigger numbers this year.

16. Sami Lepisto, Chicago Blackhawks

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    Age: 26
    2011-12 cap hit: $750,000

    More of a stay-at-home defenseman, Lepisto accounted for 90 blocked shots and 72 hits in 70 games last year while four goals and 12 assists.

15. Mark Letestu, Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Age: 26
    2011-12 cap hit: $625,000

    The young center helped fill the void when Sidney Crosby went down by scoring 14 goals and adding 13 assists in his first full season in the league.

14. Zenon Konopka, Ottawa Senators

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    Age: 30
    2011-12 cap hit: $700,000

    He may have only posted nine points last year, but scoring isn't Konopka's game. He was one of the best faceoff specialists in the game last year and piled up over 300 penalty minutes. He's a bruising force on the ice (when he isn't in the box).

13. Darren Helm, Detroit Red Wings

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    Age: 24
    2011-12 cap hit: $912,500

    Another young center on the list, Helm scored 12 goals and added 20 assists for Detroit last year during the regular season, followed by six points in 11 postseason contests.

12. Devan Dubnyk, Edmonton Oilers

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    Age:25
    2011-12 cap hit: $800,000

    With Nikolai Khabibulin's issues (and age), Dubnyk might not have much of a fight to be the primary netminder in Edmonton this year. After posting a .916 save percentage last year in 35 games (33 starts) on a bad team, he's a good young goalie.

11. Jamie McBain, Carolina Hurricanes

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    Age: 23
    2011-12 cap hit: $850,000

    McBain not only had a 30-point season from the blue line last year, but blocked an impressive 117 shots. But when you're last name isn't Skinner it can be hard to get noticed sometimes.

10. Ryan O' Reilly, Colorado Avalanche

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    Age: 20
    2011-12 cap hit: $900,000

    Consecutive 26-point seasons from the young center should improve with the Peter Mueller to the Avs lineup.

9. Derek Stepan, New York Rangers

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    Age: 21
    2011-12 cap hit: $875,000

    Quietly had a 21-goal, 45-point rookie season with the Rangers last year. A 2008 second round draft pick, he looks to be the centerpiece of the youth movement with the blue shirts.

8. Linus Omark, Edmonton Oilers

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    Age: 24
    2011-12 cap hit:

    Omark wasn't the immediate regular in the NHL that some of the other young prospects were in Edmonton last year, but he exploded once he got to the show: how about 27 points in only 51 games with the Oilers last year. As a complimentary player that looks to set up other players, he might be on the perfect roster.

7. Cody Franson, Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Age: 24
    2011-12 cap hit: $800,000

    Dealt by Nashville this summer (why?), Franson is another young, talented defenseman to the Leafs blue line. He posted 29 points in 80 games with the Preds last year.

6. Bryan Bickell, Chicago Blackhawks

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    Age: 25
    2011-12 cap hit: $541,667

    Bickell's a big body that the Hawks will ask to replace Troy Brouwer this year. He quietly registered 17 goals and 178 hits for Chicago last season, the first of a three-year deal barely above the league minimum.

5. Cory Schneider, Vancouver Canucks

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    Age: 25
    2011-12 cap hit: $900,000

    He will sit behind Roberto Luongo and force Canucks fans to ask "What If" all season. And when the season, and his contract, are up, he'll move on.

4. Al Montoya, New York Islanders

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    Age: 26
    2011-12 cap hit: $601,000

    As long as Rick DiPietro can't stay healthy, Montoya will be one of the most valuable assets in the NHL. He came off the bench to post an impressive .921 save percentage in 21 games (18 starts) last year.

3. John Carlson, Washington Capitals

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    Age: 21
    2011-12 cap hit: $845,333

    Carlson helped the Caps miss Mike Green as little as possible last year, and continues to mature in his game. He had 37 points last year, and figures to improve on that this season.

2. PK Subban, Montreal Canadiens

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    Age: 22
    2011-12 cap hit: $875,000

    After a 38-point season, 18 of which came on the power play, Subban has emerged as a legitimate force on the blue line for the Habs. He's dangerous and plays with an edge, which serves him well (most of the time).

1. Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars

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    Age: 22
    2011-12 cap hit: $812,667

    If you aren't familiar with Benn, you need to be. He exploded for 57 points last year on a bad Dallas team, and figures to be the center of a rebuilding effort for the Stars. In only 151 career NHL games, he has already scored 44 goals.