With the big pieces out of this year’s crop of unrestricted free agency now signed, the teams will be looking at some of the players left and how they can best fit their roster. Some interesting players are left such as Johnny Oduya, Cody Franson, Alexander Semin that could be useful to a team wanting to add roster depth.
Johnny Oduya – 33 (Previous team – Chicago)
Many teams will still be interested in Oduya. Reason is that many teams are still looking for defenceman and Oduya could address the need of a defenceman in the no. 3, no. 4 and no.5 position. Oduya is now 33 years-old and has won the Stanley Cup twice with the Chicago Blackhawks. Last year, Oduya’s salary cap hit was $3.375M. He may be looking at a 4-5 year deal and will likely get a three year term. As for dollar figures, the Andrej Sekera figures may be what Oduya is looking for and that is why he is not signed yet. I would see Oduya getting no more than 4.5M like Francois Beauchemin got in Colorado. Oduya is slightly younger than Beauchemin at 33 and that is why he is holding on to a 5 year deal and a full no-trade-clause. Oduya also played big minutes (24:45 mins) for the Blackhawks in the playoffs for Chicago.
Cody Franson – 27 (Previous team – Nashville)
Cody Franson is after big dollars this time around. He was traded near the trade deadline to the Nashville Predators by the Toronto Maple Leafs. His cap hit was $3.3M last season and it is believed Franson is looking at a deal very similar, if not identical to what Jeff Petry signed in Montreal. A six year term that would average him $5.5M per season. This could be why he is not signed yet. Last time Toronto and Franson negotiated to extend his contract, Toronto didn’t have the cap space to give him what he wanted. This tis time around , it could be different and there has been rumors may be interested in bringing back Franson as a no.2 defenseman with Dion Phaneuf. He is a right hand shot which is a nice plus. Toronto has been mainly focusing on their forwards at the NHL free agency period on the 1st of July and now they may be now focusing in adding a defenseman such as Franson. Toronto’s salary total is just over $55.0M, so they could be well in on Franson.
Joel Ward – 34 (Previous team – Washington Capitals)
Joel Ward is at best your third line winger. He can grind and can score. Last year Ward had 19 goals with the Capitals and was a $3.0M cap hit. The previous season Ward had 24 goals with the Capitals. So Ward can definitely score. Like any other NHL player coming close to the mid-thirties, he is now looking at security and term could be what the sticky point is along with a no-trade-clause. In the last playoff, Ward had 3 goals and 9 points in 14 games played. Many teams are said to be in on Ward but nothing as developed and he could be expected to be signed in the near future. The rangers are said to be very interested based on their last elimination to Tampa Bay. It is rumored the Canadiens are also in on Ward to some extent, but I don’t see Montreal getting Joel Ward because they have already this type of player in their roster.
Alexander Semin – 31 (Previous Team – Carolina Hurricanes)
The enigmatic Semin was bought out by the Carolina Hurricanes just before free agency. His cap hit was at $7.0M last season with Carolina. Semin had great seasons in Washington with Alexander Ovechkin but even the Capitals saw the inconsistencies in the winger. In 2014-2015, Semin recorded six goals and 19 points in 57 games last season. He hasn’t been a 30-goal scorer since he scored 40 with the Capitals in 2009-10. Semin could be offered a one year deal to try to prove to an organization he is worth the try. Semin could also be tempted to go play in his native Russia in the KHL. He is not signed yet because teams are wary of signing him based on his production and motivation. If Semin is willing to take a deal of one year at 1.0M a season, he could possibly help a team. He is a risk worth trying for one year but not more than $1M to $1.5M. Of note, he is probably not signed because he is asking a two-three year term with higher figures.
Christian Erhoff – 32 (Previous team – Pittsburgh Penguins)
Christian Erhoff could also help a team on defence. He will be 33 on 6 Jul 15 and is coming out from a season where he played only 49 games due to injuries mainly one concussion that had him sidelined for a good period. Last season his salary was $4.0M with the Penguins. The Penguins could bring him back but the cap is tight now they have acquired Phil Kessel. Penguins will have a young defence corps and could be resigned at maybe less dollars and a short term, like let’s say 2 years? After recording only 14 points, Erhoff is ready to make amend and produce like he has been with the Sabres in the past. He can provide some solid minutes averaging 21;45 minutes a game. He is another one that could help Dallas, Toronto, and you guessed it Pittsburgh.
Chris Stewart – 27 (Previous team Minnesota Wild)
From St-Louis, to Buffalo to Minnesota, Chris Stewart has been changing teams quite a bit in the last year or so. Three teams where the teams involved basically gave up on him. We are not sure why, but one thing is sure is if Chris Stewart is employed in the right role, he can offer some precious services. His cap hit last year was $4.15M and you have to figure if it is time for him come down in his salary demands. Could a three year deal at let’s say 3.5M be more appropriate for what many call Stewart a power forward playing below expectations. With the Wild, after being traded by Buffalo at the trade deadline, Stewart managed to score three goals and eight assists for 11 points in 20 games played. The one good advantage in his case, is that he is still young at 27 (he will be 28 Oct 30th). Teams who have been rumored to have interest in Chris Stewart are the Ottawa Senators, New York Rangers, Boston Bruins and the Vancouver Canucks.
Brad Boyes – 33 (Previous team – Florida Panthers)
The Florida Panthers bought out Brad Boyes contract just before free agency and Boyes himself was surprised. After all his point totals was two points higher than the previous year. In 2014-205, Boyes scored 14 goals and 24 assists for 38 points with the Panthers. Although his goal production dipped by seven last year, Boyes numbers were still going up. Boyes was rumored many times last season in trade rumors but was never traded and remained with the Panthers. His cap hit was at 2.65 with the Panthers and a team could take a chance at a salary of 2.0M on the forward for two seasons. He could help a third line on the wings. When interviewed on Sportsnet radio, Boyes stated he was talking to a couple of teams and will likely find a team to take him. He is looking for a team that will be the best fit and a team that will succeed.
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