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Old 08-02-2019, 02:16 AM   #1
TheScorpion
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Icon48 Top Remaining UFAs at each position

Continuing my UFA tracking this summer, I figured I'd cobble up a list of the top remaining UFAs at each position -- now that it's August and all that.

I'll start with the top remaining centres.

Centre

1. Joe Thornton
Last year: San Jose

At 40 years old, Thornton still has gas in the tank. He put up 51 points last year and seems to be settling in nicely as a middle-six centre for the Sharks. It would be shocking to see him leave San Jose, his home turf for the last fourteen years.

2. Brian Boyle
Last year: New Jersey and Nashville

The hulking 6'6" Boyle led all remaining UFAs with 18 goals last season. The 34-year-old has slowed down a bit, but he was never that fleet-of-foot to begin with. Boyle is an excellent penalty-killer who had a positive effect on the Devils' shorthanded operations over the last two seasons and who was notably given a feel-good All-Star nod in 2017 following an injury to Taylor Hall. Boyle recorded 145 hits last season.

3. Derick Brassard
Last year: Pittsburgh, Florida, and Colorado

After spending the first 12 years of his career with three teams (Columbus, the New York Rangers, and Ottawa), Brassard hit a rare in-season trifecta last season. He fell off a cliff, though, posting only 23 points and becoming one of the least impactful and efficient offensive players in the NHL. One could argue that this was a result of his frequent trades, but it seems that his perilous stint in Pittsburgh kickstarted a precipitous decline. At 31, he might have to settle for a cheap one-year deal to try and reset his value.

4. Oscar Lindberg
Last year: Vegas and Ottawa

With 20 points in 55 games last season, Lindberg actually outpaced everyone else on this list except for Thornton. Furthermore, Lindberg shone across multiple metrics last season, impacting his team's play very positively in the offensive zone and especially in his own end. It's somewhat surprising that Lindberg finds himself without a contract today, considering that he is only 27 and seems to be a competent fourth-line centre option. He can score, he drives play, and he can provide a physical element: his 104 hits last season equal Matthew Tkachuk's contribution from 2018-19.

5. Riley Sheahan
Last year: Pittsburgh and Florida

Sheahan, 27, is a younger player with less of a track record than the above three names. Coming off a notoriously awful two-goal season with Detroit in 2016-17, Sheahan rebounded somewhat with Pittsburgh the following year before dropping back down to 19 points split between the Penguins and Panthers in 2018-19. The two-time 30-point scorer is pretty mediocre across-the-board, capable in his own end but largely ineffective offensively. His underlying and counting stats are eerily similar to those of Mark Jankowski, with Jankowski slightly outpacing Sheahan with respect to his offensive contributions.
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Originally Posted by David Staples, Edmonton Journal
Holland made transactions which have been a net positive for the Oilers, including his massive, massive, massive Grade A trade of Milan Lucic to the Calgary Flames for James Neal.
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Old 08-02-2019, 02:46 AM   #2
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Left wing

1. Patrick Maroon
Last year: St. Louis

The hometown hero finds himself without a home in August. Priced out of a cap-crunched situation in St. Louis, Maroon was deemed expendable by Blues GM Doug Armstrong and is unlikely to be re-signed, according to the Athletic's Jeremy Rutherford. Finally having achieved his career goal, Maroon may have sought out a payday this offseason, but it seems unlikely to materialize at this point. After a shaky 28-point year, the 31-year-old Maroon has less leverage today than he did one summer ago, but he showed during the Blues' playoff run that he still has the capability to contribute in the right role. One wonders if a certain team in Calgary, going all-in on physicality and ex-Oilers of a certain vintage, might be looking to rekindle its previous rumoured interest in this particular power-forward.

2. Patrick Marleau
Last year: Toronto (and Carolina, briefly)

Bought out by the Hurricanes after a cap-manoeuvring deal with Toronto, all signs point to Patrick Marleau ending his career as a San Jose Shark. While not bad in Toronto, Marleau regressed in 2018-19 to the point where his inflated cap-hit of $6.25 million no longer figured with the Maple Leafs' plans. Still a speedy skater, Marleau has an iron-man streak dating back to 2009 and could hit both 1700 games and 1200 points this season. Whether he can push a Joe Pavelski-less Sharks team over the top is another story.

3. Jamie McGinn
Last year: Florida

Entering his 30s, Jamie McGinn is exactly the kind of player to whom teams used to give huge money and term. Two factors are working against McGinn today: a shifting NHL which favours speed and skill over size, and his having spent 63 games on the shelf after undergoing back surgery in the summer of 2018. McGinn is a solid, big body, registering at 6'1" and 205 pounds, and he threw 120 hits in his last full season. In that year, 2017-18, he also posted 13 goals and 29 points in a third-line role for the Panthers. Upon his return late last year, he scored 3 goals and 7 points in 19 games—an identical pace. While his skating is beginning to suffer, McGinn could probably help a fourth line somewhere, provided that his back remains intact.

4. Magnus Paajarvi
Last year: Ottawa

An Oiler washout from a decade ago, Paajarvi carved a solid niche for himself in Ottawa as a speedy penalty-killer who could always be counted upon to chip in a goal against the Maple Leafs. Forged in the mould of Matthew Lombardi, Paajarvi can burn anyone in a straight-line foot-race but struggles with maintaining control over the puck. Furthermore, his 11 goals last season—the most since he potted 15 in his debut campaign with Edmonton nine years ago—might be difficult to replicate elsewhere, given that he played a generous 13:28 on a microbe-thin Senators team. If he only gets two-way offers, it's not unreasonable to expect the 28-year-old Paajarvi to explore his options in Sweden.

5. Tobias Rieder
Last year: Edmonton

Infamously "the problem" with the 2018-19 Oilers—at least, according to Edmonton C.E.O. Bob Nicholson—Rieder just can't be that bad. After four serviceable-to-good seasons spent with the Coyotes and Kings, Rieder toiled through a terrible year in Edmonton last year and will be awaiting his first goal with the team in perpetuity. Still, Rieder pulled his weight in the defensive zone—as usual, given that he received Selke votes just two seasons before last—and is only 26. Players of Rieder's ilk have displayed a tendency in recent years to flourish upon leaving the Oilers—see Strome, Ryan and Caggiula, Drake for examples—so who knows what could be in store for the German winger, should he find another NHL job.
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Originally Posted by David Staples, Edmonton Journal
Holland made transactions which have been a net positive for the Oilers, including his massive, massive, massive Grade A trade of Milan Lucic to the Calgary Flames for James Neal.

Last edited by TheScorpion; 08-02-2019 at 12:44 PM. Reason: Typo
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Old 08-02-2019, 03:37 AM   #3
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Right wing

1. Justin Williams
Last year: Carolina

Role players are funny. They usually last for three or four good years, get paid, struggle for a bit, and then find themselves out of the NHL by the age of 30. Justin Williams seems to be playing that tape in reverse. Before the 2005 lockout, he bounced between Philadelphia and Carolina without mustering up much consistent success. Then, after a couple of great years in Carolina, he put up a disastrous 14-point season with the Hurricanes and Kings at age 27 in 2008-09. Adieu, right? But Williams reached new heights in his 30s, gaining a reputation as "Mr. Game 7" in L.A. while winning two Stanley Cups and a playoff MVP award in 2014, at age 33. Last year, as a 37-year-old in Carolina, Williams posted his most points in seven seasons, 53, and captained the 'Canes to within a round of the Stanley Cup Final. It would be surprising to see him leave Carolina at this point, but it all depends on if they can make the money work—with just under $2.5 million to play with, Williams would have to take a discount from his $4.5 million earnings in 2018-19.

2. Jason Pominville
Last year: Buffalo

After two consecutive 16-goal seasons in his return to Buffalo, former captain Pominville is a UFA with no suitors—yet. Pominville posted solid numbers across-the-board for the Sabres last season, and while his offensive potential might be lower than that of his former teammate, Thomas Vanek, he provides more in his own zone. Still, Pominville will be 37 in December, and better players than he have suffered calamitous regressions at that age. Like Vanek, Pominville has been a model of consistency since entering the league, but this could be the year that his 14-season streak of 30-point seasons ends. It all depends on the fit—he put up 18 points in the first two months of 2018-19 with increased ice-time, but only registered 12 markers in the final 46 games after seeing that allotment substantially reduced. Still, all but two of his points came at even-strength and his 29 even-strength points ranked alongside the likes of Nikolaj Ehlers, Patrik Laine, and Rickard Rakell.

3. Thomas Vanek
Last year: Detroit

The greatest Austrian hockey player of all time, Vanek has remained effective offensively into his mid-30s but has become almost frighteningly one-dimensional. He is notorious for his defensive "load management," to borrow an NBA term, but even so, there still remains a place in the game for a powerplay specialist. Vanek can certainly help to boost a unit—his 11 points on the man-advantage last season ranked third on the Red Wings. Although his injury-beset 16-goal, 36-point season snapped a 13-year streak of 40-point campaigns, Vanek can probably be counted upon for another 40-point year with the right deployments if he remains healthy, but at what cost? His offensive capabilities well outshone his defensive shortcomings in his great 2017-18 year with Vancouver and Columbus, but he took multiple steps back in both ends last season. If teams determine that Vanek provides more of a liability than an offensive boost, he might not find his 10th club.

4. Troy Brouwer
Last year: Florida

Brouwer saw his shooting-percentage rebound to 14% in Florida, doubling his goal-total from six on the 2017-18 Flames—with a 7.6 shooting-percentage—to 12 last season. That said, not much else improved for Brouwer last season, as he saw his defensive capabilities—once considered his silver lining—erode drastically while his point totals reached a new low. Brouwer will be 34 later this month and is entering the year that most Flames prognosticators foresaw as the likely "bad year" in his four-season commitment. Given that he already started to tumble to those predicted lows in year one of that deal (and has only regressed since), it seems unlikely that Brouwer will receive more than a tryout for 2019-20.

5. Devante Smith-Pelly
Last year: Washington

The 27-year-old Smith-Pelly theoretically has more runway left than anyone else on this list and is just one year removed from a dominant seven-goal playoff performance en route to a Stanley Cup. Flash-forward to today, and now a UFA, Smith-Pelly seems to be following more in the footsteps of John Druce than of Mike Ridley. His hit totals plummeted from 2.01/GP to 1.44/GP last season, by far the lowest mark of his career, and he was frequently demoted to the Capitals' AHL affiliate in Hershey. Once Washington reached the playoffs, Smith-Pelly was held scoreless as the team lost its first-round series against Carolina in seven games. While Smith-Pelly is more likely than the other players on this list to receive (and accept) two-way offers, he also provides far less upside than any of them. While higher-ranked players like Thomas Vanek might be criticized for being one-dimensional, it is hard to find even one dimension in Smith-Pelly's game anymore. That said, teams are always looking for players who can exert physical control over a contest, but with Smith-Pelly's hitting game in decline—and with him providing negative play-driving value in either end of the ice—teams may only turn to him as a last resort.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Staples, Edmonton Journal
Holland made transactions which have been a net positive for the Oilers, including his massive, massive, massive Grade A trade of Milan Lucic to the Calgary Flames for James Neal.

Last edited by TheScorpion; 08-02-2019 at 03:40 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 08-02-2019, 04:48 AM   #4
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Defense

1. Jake Gardiner // LD
Last year: Toronto

A top-four option in every sense, Gardiner is an unusual talent to be available in August. He provides excellent value in the offensive and defensive zones and can easily drive a pairing. After being met with lukewarm fan reception in his eight years in Toronto, it seemed that Gardiner was destined to take after his wife's maiden name and "Cashin," but he enters his 33rd day on the market having been the subject of little rumour. Toronto would probably love to have him back, but with Mitch Marner still unsigned, Gardiner is about as much of a priority there as a toenail is to a proctologist. Montreal has been linked to Gardiner, but their fanbase can be just as ravenous as those in the 6ix. Given the quality of the defensemen in trade rumours (see Ristolainen, Rasmus and Brodie, Thomas James), one wonders if Gardiner is the critical boulder suppressing a rockslide of movement.

2. Kevin Shattenkirk // RD
Last year: New York Rangers
Signed with Tampa Bay: 1 years, $1.75 million

Bought out by the Rangers on Thursday, Shattenkirk is an offensive defenseman with plenty to prove. Once looked to in St. Louis as a top-pairing option, Shattenkirk struggled in Manhattan with two coaches, two systems, and two injury-affected seasons. Funnily enough, Shattenkirk was truly awful on the powerplay last year, taking a flamethrower to his former calling card. Flipping the script on its head, he provided marginally positive value in his own end. Indeed, it is rather puzzling that the Rangers would choose to cut ties with Shattenkirk while other, far worse defensemen like Marc Staal and Brendan Smith make comparable money to play worse hockey, but alas—the damage is done. Shattenkirk would be wise to sign with a team like Tampa Bay and reset his value, much like Derick Brassard could. The difference here is that Brassard is looking to hit the heights that Shattenkirk reached in his worst years; the 30-year-old defenseman is far likelier to exceed expectations if slotted in the right spot on a contender.

3. Ben Hutton // LD
Last year: Vancouver

On paper, Hutton looks like a solid bet for a team looking for a player who can devour minutes. Playing over 22 minutes a night in 2018-19, Hutton is the workhorse of the remaining UFAs. Conversely, there is something to be said for quality over quantity. The Canucks bled scoring chances against when Hutton was on the ice, with his HockeyViz defensive-zone heatmaps looking like an overzealous child spilled ketchup all over them. His CA/60 of 64.4 ranked first among Canucks skaters with 30-plus games played. When a team's #2 defenseman is also its worst... well, it makes it no surprise that the Canucks opted to cut ties with him. Still, Hutton brings some offensive value, and there are surely some bluelines that could give him some much-needed sheltering. Once Gardiner signs, a Hutton announcement will likely follow.

4. Michael Stone // RD
Last year: Calgary

Another buyout victim, Stone is much like Jamie McGinn in that he lost the vast majority of 2018-19 to injury. Coupled with the emergence of Rasmus Andersson, Stone's injury spelled his end in Calgary. Still a serviceable defenseman, Stone provides some physical value and can play second-pairing minutes in a pinch without missing much of a step. He is seldom a liability, but he wastes his cannon of a shot in the offensive zone by usually missing wide by a county's breadth whenever he fires it. Stone is still on the right side of 30 and some team will likely take a flier on him for a year to see if he can bounce back from his injury. His right-handedness will help boost his value.

5. Niklas Kronwall // LD
Last year: Detroit

A fifteen-year Detroit Red Wing, Niklas Kronwall will turn 39 in January and is expected to make a decision this month on whether to retire or return for one more year in Michigan. Kronwall still provides decent value in his own zone and can still bang and crash with the best of them, and still ranks as one of the best options on a relatively thin Detroit defense. With Detroit's top pairing of Mike Green and Danny DeKeyser seemingly never intact due to injuries, Kronwall is as good of an option as any to have around as a mentor and a stop-gap fill-in. One thing is for certain: Kronwall isn't going anywhere else.

6. Andrew MacDonald // LD
Last year: Philadelphia

The third buyout from this list, MacDonald was more of a cap casualty than anything else for the Flyers. He provided adequate value at both ends of the ice in 2018-19, registering in the positives for Corsi for and against and posting a positive expected goals-for percentage. He remains a solid penalty-killer, and at the age of 32, he is less of a retread than many on this list. More than anything, it seems that the Flyers were just sick of MacDonald after six seasons of him being overpaid, but to some other team looking for low-risk defensive depth, he could be a good buy-low candidate.

7. Dan Girardi // RD
Last year: Tampa Bay

Once an analytical nightmare, Girardi carved out a decent niche for himself in Tampa Bay as a solid stay-at-home option. Yes, much of his effectiveness was buoyed by Victor Hedman, but Girardi was not the deleterious influence on his teammates that he once was in New York. His right-handedness works in his favour, but at the age of 35, teams may be more inclined to lend leeway to their internal options. Still, Girardi probably nabs a tryout at the very least.

8. Adam McQuaid // RD
Last year: New York Rangers and Columbus

Alongside Matt Duchene, Keith Kinkaid, Ryan Dzingel, and roughly a million other players, McQuaid was acquired by the Columbus Blue Jackets at the trade deadline in 2019. While he did not appear in the playoffs, McQuaid provided some very physical play in the regular season for both of his teams, registering 122 hits in just 50 games. McQuaid is a competent defender who can eat difficult minutes but has significant difficulty with mustering anything of quality in the offensive zone. He only gets slower with every passing year, but his positioning skills in his own end remain an asset. There are far worse options for depth defenders.

9. Dion Phaneuf // LD
Last year: Los Angeles

Dion Phaneuf had three primary points at even-strength in 2018-19, which is a far cry from his heyday of Norris contention and EA Sports covers. Honestly, though, Phaneuf was reasonably adequate in his own end last season, and although that does nothing to justify the $7 million he was paid last year, it brings into question what he could give to a more promising club. Phaneuf is just two years removed from being the #3 defenseman on a strong Senators team, and while players have fallen further in shorter amounts of time, Phaneuf still has underlying numbers that suggest he should be more of a #6 in the NHL than a total outcast. Relative to the rest of the Kings, Phaneuf was a positive influence on even-strength defensive play and the penalty-kill last year. That said, he is very slow, and in a league that is turning to value speed over anything else, it seems like Phaneuf's days are definitely numbered. At 34, he could have a year or two left in him, but that might be stretching it.

10. Alex Petrovic // RD
Last year: Florida and Edmonton

Infamously protected in the Vegas expansion draft at the expense of Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault, Petrovic was subsequently shuffled to Edmonton last year in the midst of a concussion-affected season. Petrovic is probably the best of the three depth defenders inexplicably acquired by Peter Chiarelli last year (he's miles ahead of Brandon Manning, for sure), but he was still heinously bad in almost every measurable way. That being said, Petrovic has shown in previous seasons that he can provide marginal defensive value, and it is possible that, in a healthy season, he might be able to show even a shadow of the talent that caused Florida to foolishly keep him two short seasons ago. With Calgary linked to him in some rumblings, the 27-year-old Petrovic is one to watch.


That's all for the lists. I'd normally go on to discuss goaltenders but there are none worth mentioning (poor Chad Johnson, he really fell off a cliff). Thanks for reading.
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Originally Posted by David Staples, Edmonton Journal
Holland made transactions which have been a net positive for the Oilers, including his massive, massive, massive Grade A trade of Milan Lucic to the Calgary Flames for James Neal.

Last edited by TheScorpion; 08-05-2019 at 08:55 AM.
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Old 08-02-2019, 07:02 AM   #5
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Lol at “Cashin”. Nice work scorpion.
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Old 08-02-2019, 07:32 AM   #6
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If we had any cap space i wouldn't have minded Brassard on a 1 year show me contract.
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Old 08-02-2019, 07:36 AM   #7
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I thought Thornton signed a 1 year deal? Maybe I'm wrong.
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Old 08-02-2019, 07:46 AM   #8
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Nope, not yet.
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Old 08-02-2019, 08:36 AM   #9
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Scorp, I know you are a great contributor to this forum. But Troy Brouwer as a top 5 RW? That's as atrocious as the Avenue Magazine best neighborhood rating!!
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Old 08-02-2019, 08:48 AM   #10
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Interesting to see Gardiner still up there.
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Old 08-02-2019, 08:53 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lazypucker View Post
Scorp, I know you are a great contributor to this forum. But Troy Brouwer as a top 5 RW? That's as atrocious as the Avenue Magazine best neighborhood rating!!
It just shows how putrid the UFA Right winger market is right now. Not sure I would PTO any of those guys.
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O.K. there has been a lot of talk on whether or not MacTavish has actually done a good job for us, most fans on this board are very basic in their analysis and I feel would change their opinion entirely if the team was successful.
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Old 08-02-2019, 08:55 AM   #12
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It just shows how putrid the UFA Right winger market is right now. Not sure I would PTO any of those guys.
That's somewhat of an embellishment. Pretty sure a smart GM will PTO Justin Williams if he doesn't secure a contract before training camp. Dude is a warrior.
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Old 08-02-2019, 08:58 AM   #13
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That's somewhat of an embellishment. Pretty sure a smart GM will PTO Justin Williams if he doesn't secure a contract before training camp. Dude is a warrior.
Someone probably will. If it's one year and a tiny cap hit, no harm no foul. My point is even going 3-4 deep on that list it is ugly.
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From HFBoard oiler fan, in analyzing MacT's management:
O.K. there has been a lot of talk on whether or not MacTavish has actually done a good job for us, most fans on this board are very basic in their analysis and I feel would change their opinion entirely if the team was successful.
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Old 08-02-2019, 09:02 AM   #14
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Justin Williams and Marleau at 53 points and 37 points sitting without a contract in August (and the latter bought out and traded with a first round pick to be dumped) shows just how putrid James Neal and his 19 points really was and how his contract was toxic.
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Old 08-02-2019, 09:03 AM   #15
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Lindberg would be of interest but thatis about it.
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Old 08-02-2019, 09:03 AM   #16
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I think a major reason Thornton, Marleau, Kronwall and Williams aren't signed is because they are looking at signing with their ex-teams if they do return. Kronwall might actually be considering retirement for all we know.

The only possible true free agent out of those four might be Williams.
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Old 08-02-2019, 10:01 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ozy_Flame View Post
That's somewhat of an embellishment. Pretty sure a smart GM will PTO Justin Williams if he doesn't secure a contract before training camp. Dude is a warrior.
Idk if we're talking enough about just how good Carolina's top-nine is, assuming Williams returns (I'd be surprised if he leaves):

Sebastian Aho
Teuvo Teravainen
Nino Niederreiter
Andrei Svechnikov
Justin Williams
Jordan Staal
Ryan Dzingel
Erik Haula
Brock McGinn

I think their management has done a pretty good job, from Francis to Waddell. I envision Williams taking a one-or-two-year deal at around $1.5-2 million.
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Holland made transactions which have been a net positive for the Oilers, including his massive, massive, massive Grade A trade of Milan Lucic to the Calgary Flames for James Neal.
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Old 08-02-2019, 10:07 AM   #18
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Troy Brouwer as a top 5 RW? That's as atrocious as the Avenue Magazine best neighborhood rating!!
When your other options are Stefan Noesen and Drew Stafford, sometimes you have to bite the bullet.
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Holland made transactions which have been a net positive for the Oilers, including his massive, massive, massive Grade A trade of Milan Lucic to the Calgary Flames for James Neal.
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Old 08-02-2019, 10:10 AM   #19
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When the other options are Stefan Noesen and Drew Stafford, sometimes one has to bite the bullet.
Could have also been Stempniak. I didn't know he played in the minors last year. 18 points in 20 games for the Providence Bruins.
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Old 08-02-2019, 10:17 AM   #20
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Could have also been Stempniak. I didn't know he played in the minors last year. 18 points in 20 games for the Providence Bruins.
Stempniak has suffered quite a lot in the way of injuries over the last couple seasons. He stuck with the Bruins as a black ace during the playoffs, but I think at his age-37 season, having only played two games in the NHL last year, he's probably done.

I'll always respect him for that inexplicable year when he led the Flames in scoring.
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Holland made transactions which have been a net positive for the Oilers, including his massive, massive, massive Grade A trade of Milan Lucic to the Calgary Flames for James Neal.
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