With offensive stars like Patrick Marleau and Tomas Plekanec taken off the board without testing the luxurious waters of free agency, it’s likely we’ll see unrestricted free agent-to-be Ilya Kovalchuk net a ludicrous payday. After Kovalchuk, the pool of offensive talent thins out considerably. It’s likely that players like Alexander Frolov, Colby Armstrong, and Lee Stempniak will be awarded with contracts paying them more than they’re worth, leaving cap-conscious teams to sift through the bargain bin looking for a deal.
Outlined below are five UFA wingers that could provide a solid return on investment for several NHL clubs. Barring the unlikely occurrence that these guys get locked up before July 1st, the following list of players could attract a number of suitors looking to add depth and experience.
Miroslav Satan (36): “The Client” as many have come to refer to him as following his agent’s trigger-happy Twitter musings over the playoffs, performed admirably for the B’s after being snatched off the scrap heap. The knock on Satan throughout his career has been a lack of effort and desire, but his inspired play late last season and for stretches during the playoffs garnered him a considerable amount of media attention. Of course, Satan had a lot to prove after fading into obscurity, thus he played for a tick above the league minimum. Satan could make a welcomed addition to a team looking for some offensive depth or some help on the power play, but a GM would be nuts to gamble with anything more than a one-year deal with Satan.
Fernando Pisani (34): It’s a safe bet that Pisani has played his last game as an Edmonton Oiler, a sad notion for the Oilers’ faithful that so fondly recall his remarkable playoff performance in 2005-06. For Pisani, it’s been a series of injuries and inconsistencies that have kept him from building on that 14-goals in 24-games run that nearly immortalized him in the City of Champions. He’s your classic low risk/high reward case that could provide any club with solid shutdown, two-way play if he’s healthy. He won’t command anywhere near the $2.5 million per season he made on a four-year pact with the Oilers, but his health could deter potential suitors.
Jon Sim (33): Sim is an interesting case. While he’s struggled to find regular minutes over his three-year stint with the New York Islanders, he’s been one of their most effective players at drawing penalties and even found some time on both sides of the special teams spectrum. Sim was a top-five goal scorer for three years in the OHL and has 162-points in 164 AHL games. He’s been a streaky scorer in the NHL, but found a role as a pest-type guy. The comparisons to Dino Ciccarelli are behind him, but as a depth/situational guy Sim’s still got a lot of potential. He’s played just about everywhere, and probably won’t command much more than $1 million per; Sim could be an incredible bargain.
Marek Svatos (29): In five NHL seasons, Svatos career-high games played is at a less the impressive 69. Although he’s scored at least 15 goals in three of his five campaigns, it’s been a rough couple of years for the Slovakian right winger. His past scoring prowess may bump up his price tag a bit, especially given the relatively thin market, but his cap hit was at a very reasonable $2.05 last season. As long as GMs don’t end up paying for the 32-goals in 61-games contribution from four seasons ago, Svatos could be an excellent upgrade for several teams at the wing on the bottom two lines.
Alex Tanguay (31): It’s been a rapid decline for Tanguay from the days of his perennial 75-point output. Last season in Tampa Bay was a disaster for just about everyone not named Stamkos or St. Louis, Tanguay was practically invisible from night-to-night. Tanguay made $2.5 million last season, and it would be hard to see him commanding much more than that after his third consecutive lackluster season. If he can convince a team that he’s still got some of that semi-elite playmaking ability, he might find a job on somebody’s second or third line. As it’s been for most of his career, Tanguay’s defensive play leaves much to be desired. With the right line mates, he could return to the north side of 60-points.