Recent Free Agent Forwards Who Signed And Their Impact on The Phoenix Coyotes

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Even though the frenzy doesn’t start until July 1st, several teams across the NHL have been busy negotiating contracts with their own Unrestricted Free Agency players. The contracts cannot be signed until the 1st to make it legal, but for all intent and purposes, these players are off the table and have set the bar for their value. And by setting the bar for value, it tells other GMs across the league what they can expect to spend to obtain similar talent. It also tells players across the league here is the minimum you should take if you are going to leave your current team for greener pastures. It is a guessing and bluffing game. With the rise of the KHL, players have an escape hatch. Go to Russia for the money and ice time versus take what you think is below your worth. A select group of Forwards that have signed with their 2011-2012 team, a brief discussion on each, and if the Coyotes should take a pass or sign a similar type player.

  1. Travis Moen-Montreal. 4 years at 1.85M per year. 30 yers old, 6’2″ 215 lbs left handed left wing. A nice player to have on your roster. Doesn’t light the lamp (9G, 7A 16 points) in 49 games with MTL last year. Has scored 20 points once in his career. Averages 17 minutes per game across his career, one of the team leaders in hits. Pulls penalty kill duty, not a scoring threat but does have one short handed goal. Career (+/-) rating of (-3). MTL paid less than fair market value for what he brings on the ice. This type of player exists around the league and would cost Montreal more than what he signed for. BARGAIN
  2. Lee Stempniak-Calgary. 2 years at 2.5M per year. 29 years old 5’11” 195 lbs from West Seneca, NY. Right handed right wing. The desert ninja can score on demand immediately after the trade deadline as he showed with the Coyotes in 2009 and then went stone cold in the playoffs. Averages 14 goals and 14 assists across his career. Registers a couple of power play goals a year which is decent as he is not the go to on the PP (Iginla, Tanguay, Glencross). Went to Dartmouth. Full value signing and a great baseline for players to set their worth.
  3. Steve Downie-Colorado. 2 years at averaged 2.65M per year. 25 years old right handed right wing. The former Windsor Spitfire broke into the NHL with the Flyers in 2007-08 and put up 6G and 6A in 32 games. Sent to the Lightning, he put his time with LeCavalier and St. Louis and Stamkos to good use, scoring 22 goals and 24 assists. 2010-2011 saw 10G, 22A and 171 penalty minutes. In 2011-2012, Tampa Bay shipped him to Colorado at the trade deadline. 11G and 13A is what he gave the Avs, so they signed him. My view of him is that of a physical Lee Stempniak. Good in spurts, will score and hit. Ramps up his performance after a trade or the end of a contract. He needs to be coached up against taking dumb penalties and placed on a 3rd line for him to excel. Slightly exceeded his value. 
  4. Scott Nichol-StL. 37 yrs old, $700,000 1 year ($650 base with $50 playoff bonus). 5’9″ 180lb center. Played for the Rochester Americans and Buffalo Sabres in 1994-2000. Moved to the Flames, Predators, Sharks, and finally Blues since. Good for 4G and 5A across his career. A 4th line center/energy role player who goes hard every shift for 8-12 minutes a night. An 11th round draft pick who has outperformed his potential. Great locker room guy, great role model and role player. A steal at $650,000 base.
  5. Jarett Stoll-LA Kings. 30 yrs old, 3 years for 9.75M. Plays C/RW. 6’1″ 213 lbs right handed Stanley Cup winner was drafted in the 2nd round by Edmonton. 15G 25A across his career until the previous season, where he only had 6G and 15A in 78 games. His shots per game and season were down and penalty minutes were under control. This is due to the system run by Coach Daryl Sutter. Meaning, he adapted his game and put aside his desires to suit the needs of the team.A must have on a team. Good resigning by the Kings. Worth the money at $3.25M per year

The Coyotes can expect to spend at least 3M per year and will have to lock up a player for 3-4 years to get what they need in a forward. 15-20 goals a season, 20 assists, and someone who can get some power play time. Players who fit this role include:

  • Jay McClement Centre Colorado Avalanche. 29 years old. 6’1? 205lb left handed shot. 7 seasons in the NHL. The product of Kingston, Ontario has averaged 10G and 10A his career. Comes off a 3 year 4.35M contract that paid him for his worth. It did not pay him for his future value.Penalty kill skater who gets 16 minutes in one game and  8 minutes the next. A career (-) player. Pass of Jay at anything above 2M. I’d rather see a current player resigned than overpay for what he brings. 
  • Paul Gaustad Centre Nashville Predators. 30 years old, 6’5″ face off specialist. Who was the only player in the Stanley Cup run to have a better face off percentage than Boyd Gordon? Gaustad. Could command the 2.3M that Buffalo paid him and Nashville traded for. Nashville traded for his face off ability and his gritty play. Offer 2.4M and hope you get him.
  • Brad Boyes-Buffalo Sabres. The 30 year old right wing was a scoring machine with St. Louis, hammering 43, then 33, then 13 goals per season. Scores 12 for St. Louis in 2010-2011 season in 62 games then gets shipped to Buffalo where he scores 5G, 9A in 21 games. He played 83 regular season games that year. Last season in 65 games, 8G 15A and 6 penalty minutes. Was on a 4 million dollar cap hit contract the past 3 season (5M, 4.5M, 4M per). His production has decreased considerably over time. He’ll get offers from teams looking for him to replicate his St. Louis days, offer 2.5 Million to stir the pot.
  • Alexander Semin-Washintgon Capitals. Will get over 6.5 million per season, he is not the piece the Coyotes need to get over the hump and reach the Stanley Cup at that price. Signing him will take valuable dollars away from the others areas of the ice you need to fill. Don’t take his agents call unless the number is under 5 million a season.

Sidney Crosby has stretched the bar thanks for the contract extension of 12 years at 8.7 million dollars per year he signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins. That is the top dollar mark for the league and there is no player out there as a UFA that will match this number. It is so far out there (in terms of Crosby’s talent and dollars) that it is an outlier. No GM will look at that and try to calculate a fair value number. I would like to see the cost to insure the contract against Crosby’s previous concussions though.