An expanded look at the top unrestricted free agent wingers by Todd Cordell, who can be found on twitter @ToddCordell.
The 2015 NHL free agency class as a whole isn’t inspiring and certainly isn’t deep, but there are plenty of options on the wing for teams looking for help in that area.
Some of these guys will re-sign with their own teams, obviously, but there figures to be a few quality wingers available, and they’ll surely be compensated well if they decide to test the open market.
While there are some top-6 wingers set to become free agents, there are a lot more depth guys available, and nobody set to test the market is a true game-breaker, in my opinion.
Notes: Corsi For% is simply used to track shot attempts taken while a player is on the ice. If Player X is a 60% Corsi player, that means 60% of all shot attempts when he’s on the ice go towards the opposing net, while only 40% head in the direction of his goaltender’s net. This number is used to see who’s driving play, and generally having higher Corsi numbers leads to more production. Corsi For% relative to the team compares a player’s numbers to those of his team when he’s not on the ice. If Player X is a 60% Corsi player and his team is 55% without him, which gives him a Corsi Relative% of +5%.
Points per 60 minutes is simply how many points Player X records per 60 minutes of any given situation. If Player X had 10 5 vs 5 points in 120 minutes of ice, his 5 vs 5 points/60 would be 5. The same goes for goals and assists.
All numbers are via CapGeek, War-On-Ice and HockeyAnalysis.
15. Blake Comeau – Pittsburgh Penguins – 28 years old
Prior contract: one year, $700,000 ($700K cap hit)
At times playing in the top-6 due to injuries, Comeau has enjoyed a nice bounce back season with the Penguins to this point.
The 28-year-old, who once scored 41 goals over two seasons with the Islanders, seems to have regained some of his scoring touch as he has 11 goals and 19 points through 32 games with the Pens.
He’s currently rocking a 2.15 points/60 and a 50.1CF% at even strength, so if he can continue performing even close to this level he’s going to be making double or triple his current salary this summer.
14. Chris Stewart – Buffalo Sabres – 27 years old
Prior contract: two years, $8.3 million ($4.15M cap hit)
Chris Stewart is a guy with a lot of tools who has never really put it together.
He’s fought inconsistency and injuries throughout his career, and as a result he’s put together just one year of 31 points or more since the beginning of the 2011-12 season.
He gets around the ice pretty well for a guy his size and he has a good shot so he’s worth taking a flier on, but it’s hard to put him any higher on this list given he’s an offensively player with nine points in 35 games.
13. Dan Winnik – Toronto Maple Leafs – 29 years old
Prior contract: one year, $1.3 million ($1.3M cap hit)
Winnik won’t score many goals, but he will chip in offensively here and there, and is an excellent possession driver.
He’s a very good two-way forward who you can trust on the ice defending leads, killing penalties, etc. and can play in the top-6 in small spurts if necessary.
He’s having a pretty good year – he has 14 points and +2.68 Corsi Relative% in 33 games – playing in a huge market in Toronto, which will ensure his strong play doesn’t get unnoticed.
Winnik won’t break the bank, but I can see him getting a multi-year deal this summer.
12. Drew Stafford – Buffalo Sabres – 29 years old
Prior contract: four years, $16 million ($4M cap hit)
With Drew Stafford you know what you’re going to get, and that’s 16-20 goals per season. He’s scored at that pace or higher every year he’s been in the league, and in the right situation (i.e. Pittsburgh) I don’t think 25 is out of the realm of possibility.
He can kill penalties, play in any situation, and after signing a pretty lucrative deal with the Sabres last time his contract was up, he’d probably be willing to take a pay cut to play on a contender.
11. Joel Ward – Washington Capitals – 34 years old
Prior contract: four years, $12 million ($3M cap hit)
Given his relationship with Barry Trotz and how effective he has been – he’s on pace for over 20 goals – I think he’s likely to stay in Washington, but crazier things have happened.
He’s by no means a game-breaker, but he’s a guy who will chip in some goals, play a 200-foot game and can eat some tough minutes to free up top guys.
Guys like that generally draw a lot of attention when available.
10. Steve Downie – Pittsburgh Penguins – 27 years old
Prior contract: one year, $1 million ($1M cap hit)
Downie was a free agent last summer and signed very cheap to join a good team and put himself in a good situation with the Penguins, and it looks like it’ll pay off.
He’s been a consistent producer at even-strength averaging 2.21 points/60 and has been his usual physical self.
Whether he re-ups in Pittsburgh or heads elsewhere, he’s a good bet to at least double his current salary.
9. Jiri Tlusty – Carolina Hurricanes – 26 years old
Prior contract: one year, $2.95 million ($2.95M cap hit)
Tlusty has just 13 points in 28 games on the year, but 10 of those are goals and he’s a 52.42 possession player, so it’s not as if he isn’t doing anything.
Over the last three full seasons he has averaged 1.85 points/60 of 5 vs 5 hockey, he has scored 49 goals in his last 144 games and probably wouldn’t cost a ton to sign, which leads me to believe he’ll be an attractive option or a lot of teams.