Back in June, we posted our Top 50 Unrestricted Free Agents. Since then, we’ve seen 38 of our top 50 have signed in the NHL, Brad Richards and Dan Boyle retired, and Kris Versteeg signed in Europe. There are nine players from our list still unsigned.
Let’s take a look at the Top Five UFAs still unsigned:
1. Jiri Hudler (18) – PHR originally predicted a four-year, $16MM contract with New Jersey. While 46 points is still solid for a 32-year-old, Hudler is two years removed from a 76-point, Lady Byng-winning campaign, so the perception is that he’s on the decline. Meanwhile, the Devils traded for Taylor Hall and therefore weren’t looking for another scoring winger. Hudler still offers value for teams looking for a possession positive, offensive winger. Teams have to decide if they’re acquiring the 46-point Hudler, or the 76-point one. Look for a one-year contract in the range of $1MM.
2. James Wisniewski (NR) – Back on June 21 when we posted the original Top 50, Wisniewski was still a member of the Carolina Hurricanes. He was bought out by the Hurricanes on June 30 after playing just 0:47 seconds with them after tearing his ACL on his first shift. We profiled Wisniewski further here. He’s an offensively skilled, right-handed defenseman which has value, but teams will be wary of giving him anything more than a tryout at training camp or one year for cheap.
3. Brandon Pirri (NR) – Similar to Wisniewski, Pirri was not on our original list because he was property of the Anaheim Ducks. However, the Ducks chose not to offer Pirri a qualifying offer, despite him being an offensively talented winger; the budget Ducks likely wanted to avoid heading to arbitration. Pirri is an interesting player, and two years removed from a Cy Young caliber season with 22 goals and 2 assists. He could be an option for teams like the Oilers to upgrade on Nail Yakupov. Look for him to get a one or two year deal in the $1-2MM range, depending on the situation.
4 . Radim Vrbata (27) – Vrbata is coming off a terrible season with just 27 points in 63 games. However, like Hudler, he’s two years removed from a tremendous season, putting up 31 goals and 63 points. Some talk was made around the trade deadline about the Canucks not getting a single concrete trade offer for Vrbata. We originally predicted a one-year, $3.7MM contract with the Avalanche. At this point, if Vrbata is going to get any offers, look for similar terms as Wisniewski: PTO or cheap one-year contract in the Sam Gagner range.
5. Alex Tanguay (33) – We predicted Tanguay signing a one-year, $2.5MM contract with Arizona, where he finished last season. Tanguay is getting up there in age (he’ll turn 37 in November), but has shown the ability to perform in a scoring role. He’s not particularly skilled on the defensive or physical sides of the game, but Tanguay would be a decent fit for a team looking for either a short-term upgrade or a bridge player until a prospect is ready. At this point, expect him to attend a training camp on a PTO.