Matt Beleskey (L - 39 - Anaheim Ducks)
Beleskey broke out offensively this season, scoring at a 27-goal pace. He scored 32 points (22G, 10A) in 65 games and posted a 53.6 Corsi%. Beleskey's gotten a lot of comparisons to David Clarkson, and not in a complimentary way. He's expected to command big money in free agency, only to completely underperform. His possession numbers are better than Clarkson's, which should help a bit. He will get a raise from his $1.4M contract.
Sean Bergenheim (L - 23 - Minnesota Wild)
Bergenheim has made a name for himself as a case study in not putting too much stock in a player who unexpectedly produces a bunch in the playoffs. To date, he hasn't been able to keep up the 0.69 P/G rate he had during the 2011 playoffs in Tampa Bay. He returned after being suspended for the entirety of the lockout season to post a career-high 16 goals and 29 points. Following that, in 2014/15, he posted a career-low (not counting partial seasons) 19 points (9G, 10A) in 56 games as he was traded to Minnesota. Unable to produce in the playoffs, he was made a healthy scratch during their series against St. Louis and Chicago. He will make less than his $2.75M salary from last season.
David Booth (L - 10 - Toronto Maple Leafs)
The speedy power forward has become unreliable as a point producer, but as a bottom-six defensive possession forward, he's maintained decent value, fuelling his signing by the Leafs following the "summer of analytics". With the all-around weak Leafs, Booth scored 13 points (7G, 6A) in 59 games and a 47.2 Corsi%. He will likely move on, and make even less than his $1.1M salary this past season.
Erik Cole (L - 72 - Detroit Red Wings)
After posting career highs in 2011/12 with the Canadiens, Cole declined quickly, likely due to wear-and-tear because of his physical game. He had a moderate resurgence this season, scoring 39 points (21G, 18A) in 68 games, as well as a 51.0 Corsi%. He suffered a spinal contusion in late March, ending his season and putting the future of his career in jeopardy. He made $4M this season, but at age 36, won't make that again.
Comeau, after some disappointing offensive seasons in Calgary and Columbus, was signed by the Penguins. With Pittsburgh, he posted 31 points (16G, 15A), the third-highest total of his career, though he produced at a pace that, had he not missed a long stretch with a mid-season wrist injury, would have been a career-second 41 points. Comeau played well as a bottom-six two-way winger, posting a 52.9 Corsi%. Comeau will be in line for a raise from his $700K salary, but I can't imagine he'd be overpaid.
We can blame significant underuse for the drop in Erat's solid production when he moved from Nashville to Washington. His ice time didn't improve much once he went to Arizona, and he didn't have much offensive talent around him. Erat still posted 32 points (9G, 23A). He was okay defensively, posting a 53.2 Corsi%, leading all team regulars. There's no way Erat makes the $4.5M he made last season.
Tomas Fleischmann (L - 14 - Anaheim Ducks)
A few years removed from a 61-point campaign with Florida, Fleischmann was traded to Anaheim near the trade deadline. He scored 27 points (8G, 19A) in 66 games, and posted a 51.8 Corsi%. He fell in the lineup as the season went on, and spent his time in Anaheim as the no.4 centre. He's a really good no.4 centre. With that in mind, expect a drop in salary from his $4.5M salary last season.
Of course Frolik would be on the list. He was a very shrewd addition at the 2013 Draft, and had two seasons in which he posted strong point totals and carried his defensive development over from his time with Chicago. Last season, Frolik posted 42 points (19G, 23A) in 82 games, and a 55.2 Corsi%. We all know about the debacle last season, where Chevy practically guaranteed Frolik would hit the open market after opting for arbitration and ending up with a one-year contract. He made $3.3M last season and is in line for a raise, which is why the Jets may not sign him.
Glencross has been plagued in recent years by injuries, which have prevented him from building on a strong 2011/12 campaign. Glencross scored 35 points (13G, 22A) in 71 games, as well as a 45.8 Corsi%. With a full season on a good possession team, that should improve. Given his age and the amount of time he missed with injury, Glencross could make a bit less than his $2.55M last season.
Martin Havlat (R - 9 - New Jersey Devils)
While in the midst of a buyout from San Jose, Havlat scored 14 points (5G, 9A) in 40 games, posting a 45.1 Corsi %. He will make less than his $1.5M salary last season, though a team looking for inexpensive bottom-six offence will be interested. His proneness to injury will be a sticking point.
Andrei Loktionov (C - Lokomotiv Yaroslavl - KHL)
Loktionov scored 15 points (9G, 6A) in 26 games in the KHL with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. He showed some ability as a bottom-six forward in the two years preceding last, and he's confirmed that he's interested in returning to the NHL. During the 2013/14 season, in which he was traded from New Jersey to Carolina, he scored 22 points (7G, 15A) in 68 games, as well as a 55.0 Corsi%. He will generate some interest from teams.
Matthias has been a good bottom-six forward since the Canucks acquired him from the Panthers. His 18 goals and 27 points (9A) last season were career highs. He posted a 47.7 Corsi%, but even so, he's a bottom-six player and his offensive numbers can make up for it if he gets some decent possession players for linemates. He made $1.75M last season, and that should be around what he makes.
Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau (R - 15 - Montreal Canadiens)
Parenteau had one year left on his deal, set to make $3,999,999. After missing most of his season with injury and scoring 22 points (8G, 14A) and a 50.5 Corsi%, Parenteau was bought out from his contract. For his poor performance, I chalk it up to him not really getting off to a good start and getting injured before he could get back in form. He still scored at a rate that would have placed sixth among Habs forwards had he played a whole season, and he'll definitely be a buy-low player, so it could be worth it to take a flyer on him.
After being bought out following a weak season with the Coyotes, Ribeiro returned to producing strong totals with the Preds, scoring 62 points (15G, 47A) and posting a 57.0 Corsi%. He will get a raise from his $10.5M salary last season, though he won't get term because he's 35. Ribeiro was accused of sexual assault and has had a civil suit filed against him, so teams may not want his baggage.
Richards, since joining the Kings, has declined. His ability to produce offence and compete against top competition eroded as his and his team's physical style of play wore down his body. Richards got 16 points (5G, 11A) in 53 games for the Kings, spending some time in the minors. He posted a 51.6 Corsi%, but did get easier minutes than in the past. The Kings, for whatever reason, decided not to buy out his contract when the compliance amnesties were on the table last summer, and it was thought they'd pay the price for it this summer. Much to everyone's shock, the Kings terminated his contract citing a material breach. It may not even be a cap circumvention move, as Richards is being investigated by the RCMP.
Michael Ryder (R - 17 - New Jersey Devils)
Ryder played only 13 games after New Years, getting a whopping 30 of his 32 total healthy scratches on the season this calendar year. He wound up producing 19 points (6G, 13A) in 47 games, with a 46.3 Corsi%. With a decent possession player, he can be a decent fourth-liner, but where's his niche? Teams trying to get younger and faster won't like his 35 years, he's not the leadership guy rebuilding teams would look for, he's not gritty enough for the traditionalists, and not good enough possession player for the analytics guys. I expect he'll get an offensive role on the fourth line and will make significantly less than the $3.5M salary he started making in Dallas.
After being released to free agency in 2012 by Washington, Semin was thought to have earned a long-term deal by scoring at a point-per-game pace following the lockout. He didn't score a point-per-game the following year, but had a strong season anyway. This past season, however, was awful. He scored 19 points (6G, 13A) in 57 games, and posted a 55.8 Corsi%. He was set to make $21M over the course of the next three seasons, but is on unconditional waivers awaiting a buyout. If Semin gets a contract, it will be a cheap one, and he won't be getting any more long-term extensions. When every year is a contract year, he may be okay, but I don't know if anyone wants to sign him.
Martin St. Louis
The two-time Art Ross Trophy winner was acquired at the 2014 Trade Deadline in the hopes that he'd provide experience and help the Rangers win the Stanley Cup. He didn't, and his point totals also started to dwindle. He scored 52 points (21, 31A) in 74 games, and posted a 47.5 Corsi%. He made $5.625M last season, and though he won't get the same amount or more than two seasons of term, but he'll still make a lot of money just based on his career history. At age 40, he's a retirement candidate, but even 52 points proves he's still got a bit left in the tank.
Stalberg scored 22 goals and 21 assists before the lockout and went on to play a more defensive role leading up to the Blackhawks' 2013 Cup win. The Preds signed him on hoping he'd gel with their score-by-committee approach, but he was a disappointment. Last season, he scored 10 points (2G, 8A) in 25 games, and split the rest of the year between the minors, injured reserve, and being a healthy scratch. With a 52.1 Corsi%, he was good defensively in his role. He was set to make $6M for the next two seasons, but has been bought out, so he becomes a free agent. He'll be a buy-low option, but with his size, speed, and proven offensive ability, he should get a good look in free agency.
Stewart started the season disappointing in Buffalo, and was traded to Minnesota mid-season. He scored 36 points (14G, 22A) in 81 games, with a 39.4 Corsi% between the two teams. A lot of people cite his mediocre offensive numbers as a knock against him. I disagree. He scored nearly 30 goals the year he was traded to St. Louis, so I can't imagine its his lack of ability, so much as five years of playing for defensive or bad teams that's contributed to his middling numbers. If an offensive team with a good centre can get Stewart, he'll produce. He made $2.1M last season, and will likely continue to make that.
Vermette was acquired by the Blackhawks, who were expecting a good two-way faceoff centre who could produce offensively. His performance in Chicago wasn't that great. He scored 38 points (13G, 25A) in 82 games, most of which came before Arizona traded him. He also posted a 47.8 Corsi%, though I suspect that number was skewed by his time with the Coyotes. Three of his goals during the playoffs were game-winners, and two of those came in the Cup Final, which made a little for it. I expect him to make less than the $3.75M he made this past season.
Ward, a rare Canadian University alum who made the NHL full time, has become a bit of a star these days. He scored 24 goals last season, and followed it up with 34 points (19G, 15A) in 82 games this past season, along with a 50.2 Corsi%. Thanks to his mix of skill and grit, people will likely pay him around the $3M he made this past season. He's 34, so I would recommend a bit of caution.
Here we have a solid two-way winger who scored 41 points (18G, 23A) and a 57.1 Corsi% in 81 games for the Kings. The winner of the 2014 Conn Smythe Trophy amidst a third championship, Williams has a reputation for producing at an elite level in the playoffs. I don't know how much I buy that (I find it more likely he's holding back in the regular season), but even so, he produces as a top-six forward in the regular season and nearly a point-per-game in the playoffs. He made $3.05M last season, and will likely be in demand enough to get around that much this summer.
Winnik was signed to a cheap deal by the Toronto Maple Leafs, who hoped to improve defensively with his addition. It didn't pan out, as the Leafs were still falling out of the race by the All-Star break, resulting in his trade to Pittsburgh, but Winnik managed to have a career year offensively, scoring 34 points (9G, 25A) in 79 games, scoring at a consistent 0.43 P/G rate in both Toronto and Pittsburgh, while also contributing a 50.7 Corsi%. After making $650K, he should be in demand this summer for both his offensive and defensive ability for the bottom six.
Though not the biggest producer, Beauchemin provides a lot of value from the blueline, displaying the ability to play physically, drive puck possession, playing over 20 minutes a night, and producing over 20 points in a season. Last season, he scored 23 points (11G, 12A) in 64 games and posted a 50.0 Corsi%. He made $3.5M last season, but at age 35, will be getting less money and term in the future.
Eric Brewer (D - 2 - Toronto Maple Leafs)
Brewer scored 11 points (3G, 8A) in 44 games, and posted a 44.8 Corsi%, as he was traded from Tampa Bay to Anaheim to Toronto. He had a lot of healthy scratches and missed a lot of time with a foot injury. While his physicality and leadership will get him some interest from other teams, the decline his skills will limit him to a smaller contract than his $2.7425M contract, and he won't be getting a lot of term on his next contract.
Ehrhoff made $4M on his Pittsburgh contract following a buyout by the Sabres, and wound up producing 14 points (3G, 11A) in 49 games, career-lows (save for 2003/04), but also had a 51.5 Corsi%. He'll really be a buy-low addition this summer. Hopefully he can have a resurgent season.
Franson scored 36 points (7G, 29A) in 78 games this past season, and a 49.8 Corsi%. On the surface, they're decent numbers. When Toronto traded him to the Predators, he was third among Preds defencemen in scoring, but only managed 0.17 P/G rate after the trade, hence the Preds not wanting to re-sign him.
Gonchar signed for two years with Dallas in 2013, but after a disappointing year and in the midst of a second, he was traded to the Habs. In all, he scored 14 points (1G, 13A) in 48 games and posted a 46.3 Corsi%. At age 41, he'd make way less than his $4.6M salary this past season, and could be a cheap offensive mentor. Then again, he's 41, so he could simply opt to retire. Don't be surprised if we get a retirement announcement this summer.
Though he gets the reputation as a bad defenceman based on his offensive style of play and his less stellar defensive zone play, Green is an elite defenceman. Though unlikely ever to return to his 30-goal heights from the Caps' "excitement era", he's still quite productive, having finished this season with 45 points (10G, 35A) in 72 games, with a defensively good 52.3 Corsi%, while playing fifth-defenceman minutes. Imagine how much more he would have gotten on the top pair without injuries. That is why the Caps have to let him go. He's in line to make a lot of money, coming off a UFA-class-leading $6.25M, and the Caps don't want to devote that salary to a 5th defenceman. As a right-handed defenceman, expect every team to express interest.
Matt Irwin (D - 52 - San Jose Sharks)
Irwin could be a really good value signing for the third-pairing. He made $1.1M last season as he finished with 19 points (8G, 11A) in 53 games and posted a 51.6 Corsi%.
Barret Jackman (D - 5 - St. Louis Blues)
Jackman beat out both Henrik Zetterberg and Rick Nash for the 2003 Calder Trophy, and since then, he's been a mainstay on the Blues' defence. Last season he scored 15 points (2G, 13A) in 80 games, and posted a 53.0 Corsi%. His usage fell under 17 minutes a night during the season, and under 13 minutes in the playoffs. With his declining usage, advancing age, and $3.25M salary, the Blues opted to part ways.
Jordan Leopold (D - 33 - Minnesota Wild)
In the past decade, Leopold occasionally had a noteworthy season, but he's declined to third-pairing usage. He's an okay puck-mover, but doesn't produce much offence. He scored four points (1G, 3A) in 43 games and posted a 44.7 Corsi%, and while it was a nice story, Leopold's daughter convincing Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen to trade him with a letter, I can't see Minnesota making retaining him a priority. He's set to make way less than his $1.75M last season.
Making $5M last season, Martin scored 20 points (3G, 17A) in 74 games and posted a 52.9 Corsi%. Though he's 34 and hasn't had a 30-plus point season since his time in New Jersey, he's still a quality puck-moving defensive defenceman who can log over 20 minutes. Given his salary and age, the Penguins look to be ready to cut him loose.
Meszaros had a bad season. He was signed in the hopes that his puck-moving skills would help a Sabres team expected to suck, but he didn't. He scored 14 points (7G, 7A) in 60 games and posted a 38.5 Corsi%. Four seasons removed from his last 30-point season, he has still shown flashes of his early-career offensive flair, with two consecutive two-goal games late in March, but if any team wants to get any value out of him, they need to either shelter him against bad opponents or prop him up with good teammates. I doubt he's in line for another contract like last season's $4.125M.
Though Michalek is known more for his shut-down style of play, his handful of 20-plus point seasons and his strong possession numbers make him more than just the physical shut-down guy. Last season, he scored 12 points (4G, 8A) in 68 games and posted a 51.8 Corsi% during a season in which he was traded from Arizona to St. Louis. He missed the chunk of games surrounding the trade with an upper-body injury, but recovered and played in all of St. Louis' playoff games. He made $2M last season, so it's reasonable to suggest that he would make a similar amount on his next contract.
Who? I'm glad you asked. A big deal was made about Columbus fourth-rounder Mike Reilly not signing with his draft team. Russo, who played his senior year the same year as Reilly, was also a 2011 fourth-round pick, only three spots ahead of Reilly, and scored 41 points (15G, 26A) in 40 games, one point behind Reilly's 42, and Russo also was captain of the University of Notre Dame during the latter part of last season. The Jets waited until the seventh round to draft their first defenceman in 2015, so it could be worth it to add to their defensive depth by signing Russo when becomes available in August.
Though it wasn't 44 points like in 2013/14, the 23 points (3G, 30A) Sekera scored in 73 games, during which he was traded Carolina from Los Angeles, is more in line with his typical career production. He once again posted strong possession numbers, with a 54.5 Corsi%. He was paid $1.75M last season, and will likely make around a similar number next season. He will be a coveted free agent, but the Kings, who need defencemen after Slava Voynov's arrest and suspension, will try to keep him.
Visnovsky made $6M last season. Though he led all defencemen with 68 points in 2010/11, he struggled the following season and hasn't recovered. Last season he scored 20 points (5G, 15A) in 53 games, missing parts of the season with various injuries, and posted a 54.6 Corsi%. He'll be 39 by the time the starts, so he won't get a big-money deal. Maybe a low seven-figure deal for him to mentor young blueliners, but he won't be relied on in a large enough role to warrant a lot of term.
Zidlicky rebounded in 2013/14 with a 42-point season, and had another strong season in 2014/15, scoring 34 points (7G, 27A) and posting a 50.5 Corsi% in 84 games (yes, 84) as the Devils traded him to Detroit near the Deadline. Despite finally having gotten a reasonably good right-handed defenceman, the Red Wings are likely to let him go to free agency.
Fasth made $3.4M as he posted a 6-15-3 record, 0.888 Save %, 3.41 GAA, and no shutouts in 26 games. While some of the bad can be attributed to playing for a team as bad as Edmonton, it doesn't reflect well on Fasth nonetheless. He stopped posting good numbers once he joined Edmonton, so knowing that, teams may be willing to take a flyer on him. His poor numbers with Edmonton will help teams sign him to less than he made last year.
Ramo made $2.9M as he posted a 15-9-3 record, 0.912 Save %, 2.60 GAA, and two shutouts in 34 games. With only a modest improvement over 2013/14, which was supposed to be his big NHL breakout, Jonas Hiller taking over as no.1, and a prospect ready to make the Flames full-time, Ramo will get a discounted contract from another team in free agency.
Emery made $1M as he posted a 10-11-7 record, 0.894 Save %, 3.06 GAA, and no shutouts in 31 games. He posted these bad numbers in his second season back with Philadelphia, and was worse than an already bad previous season. With a Steve Mason, improved from his time in Columbus, as the starter, Emery will go to free agency in favour of a prospect or cheap signing.
I'm capping it off here. Happy Free Agency everyone!