Top 30 available NHL talent

Washington Capitals' Alexander Semin celebrates after scoring against the Boston Bruins during the...

Washington Capitals' Alexander Semin celebrates after scoring against the Boston Bruins during the second period in Game 5 of their NHL Eastern Conference quarterfinal hockey playoff series in Boston, Massachusetts April 21, 2012. (REUTERS)

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:33 AM ET

TORONTO - The free-agent class of 2012 has been called thin — at best — but even once you get past Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, there will be players available who can help their respective new teams, though after the first handful, it’s a crapshoot. A glance at the top 30 free agents who will hit the open market on July 1 at noon:

 

1. Zach Parise LW Devils

2011-12 salary: $6 million

2011-12 stats: 82 GP, 31 G, 38 A, 32 PIM, -5

Coach Peter DeBoer consistently referred to him as the “heartbeat” of the Devils during the playoffs. He will be something close to that with next club, provided he leaves New Jersey … But anything more than a million-dollar raise for the 27-year-old would be too much … Next time he takes a shift off will be the first time.

2. Ryan Suter D Predators

2011-12 salary: $3.5 million

2011-12 stats: 79 GP, 7 G, 39 A, 30 PIM, +15

Could the 27-year-old double his salary? In the silliness that often happens on July 1, it is entirely possible … Easily the best defenceman available and should have as many as 10 teams lined up at his door ready to make him part of their top pair … Suter’s 46 points just happened to be his best in the NHL, topping the 45 he had in 2008-09.

 

3. Alexander Semin RW Capitals

2011-12 salary: $6.7 million

2011-12 stats: 77 GP, 21 G, 33 A, 56 PIM, +9

Easily the free agent who fits best into the high-risk, high-reward category … A change of scenery might be all the 28-year-old needs, but who wants to find out whether that is true … Questions about his heart aside, was the only player among top six in Caps scoring to finish with a plus-mark … Had career-best 84 points in 2009-10.

 

4. P.A. Parenteau RW Islanders

2011-12 salary: $1.25 million

2011-12 stats: 80 GP, 18 G, 49 A, 89 PIM, -8

The 29-year-old has blossomed the past two seasons on Long Island after failing to get his NHL career off the ground with the Rangers … His playmaking skills will be coveted the most after Parise, and it would be a surprise if he signs first. He’ll know better his value once Parise is gone ... Will benefit from shallow free-agent pool.

 

5. Jason Garrison D Panthers

2011-12 salary: $700,000

2011-12 stats: 77 GP, 16 G, 17 A, 32 PIM, +6

No one will get a bigger raise in free agency, and we’re willing to bet Garrison will be overpaid after just one good season … Nine of 16 goals (third-most among NHL defencemen) came on the power play, but relatively low assist could hurt him … Owner of a rocket shot, the 27-year-old had seven goals in 113 previous NHL games.

 

6. Matt Carle D Flyers

2011-12 salary: $3.8 million

2011-12 stats: 82 GP, 4 G, 34 A, 36 PIM, +4

Carle’s new team will be getting a durable player, as he has missed just two games in the past three seasons … A stud type on the blue line, his future in Philly apparently ended when the Flyers acquired Luke Schenn from the Maple Leafs … At 27, he is just entering his prime years.

 

7. Shane Doan RW Coyotes

2011-12 salary: $4.55 million

2011-12 stats: 79 GP, 22 G, 28 A, 48 PIM, -8

Regarded as one of the top captains in the game, but some tend to forget he had not been past the first round of the playoffs until this past spring … Production has dropped a bit in recent years, but has averaged 25 goals a season since the lockout … At 35, still brings sandpaper to the game with each shift.

 

8. Jaromir Jagr RW Flyers

2011-12 salary: $3.3 million

2011-12 stats: 73 GP, 19 G, 35 A, 30 PIM, +5

The 40-year-old made a seamless return to the NHL last season after three years in the KHL … Flyers liked that he was a leader and didn’t have a problem working with the team’s younger players … Not the quickest afoot but makes up for it with veteran guile and craftiness … Hard to think he would get more than one year.

 

9. Ray Whitney LW Coyotes

2011-12 salary: $3 million

2011-12 stats: 82 GP, 24 G, 53 A, 28 PIM, +26

If the diminutive 40-year-old has a secret as to how he gets it done every year, he is not telling anyone … Led Coyotes in points and plus-minus … His 77 points tied for the second-highest total in his career (83 in 2006-07 with Carolina) … Speedy nature and knack for the net makes suits him for today’s NHL.

 

10. Dustin Penner LW Kings

2011-12 salary: $4.25 million

2011-12 stats: 65 GP, 7 G, 10 A, 43 PIM, -7

When he was not busy eating pancakes, the 29-year-old had his lowest points output since 2005-06, when he played in 19 games for the Ducks … Often has faced questions about his motivation, but more than a few teams will think it can be the one to set him straight … Has the ability, but not the drive, to be closer to top of this list.

 

11. Martin Brodeur G Devils

2011-12 salary: $5.2 million

2011-12 stats: 59 GP, 31W-21L-4OTL, 3 SO, .908 SV PCTG, 2.41 GAA

Brodeur, 40, set the NHL world abuzz on Friday when he hired agent Pat Brisson after negotiating his own deals with the Devils since the 1990s … Hard to believe Brodeur wearing anything but a Devils uniform, but that’s what can happen with financial instability … Rebounded in playoffs after slow start in first round.

 

12. Olli Jokinen C Flames

2011-12 salary: $3 million

2011-12 stats: 82 GP, 23 G, 38 A, 54 PIM, -12

Jokinen can tell you all about the regular season, but anything after, forget it. On the 33-year-old’s resume are 1,042 regular-season games in the NHL and six playoff games. Can’t see how a team looking to get over the top would be attracted to that … His 61 points represented his best output in four years.

 

13. Teemu Selanne RW Ducks

2011-12 salary: $4 million

2011-12 stats: 82 GP, 26 G, 40 A, 50 PIM, -1

The Finnish Flash would merit higher ranking here but all assume he will return to the Ducks, his employer since the end of the lockout … Turns 42 on Tuesday but scored at least 25 goals for the sixth time in seven seasons … Remains a power-play weapon with nearly half (12) of his goals on man-advantage last season.

 

14. Jiri Hudler LW Red Wings

2011-12 salary: $3 million

2011-12 stats: 81 GP, 25 G, 25 A, 42 PIM, +10

Hudler’s 25 goals were a personal career-high and the second time he has scored more than 20 in one season … Also reached an average high of 15 minutes, 40 seconds of ice time a game … Some figure he will re-sign with the Red Wings, but others say it would have been done by now … At 28, the speedster’s best years could be ahead of him.

 

15. Ryan Smyth LW Oilers

2011-12 salary: $4.5 million

2011-12 stats: 82 GP, 19 G, 27 A, 82 PIM, -5

It’s thought Smyth and the Oilers are about $1 million apart, so the open market beckons … Even at 36, he would be a good fit for a team looking for a veteran to create trouble in front of the opponent’s net … He missed out on the Kings’ Stanley Cup run and if not the Oilers, then only a Cup contender might have a chance to sign him.

 

16. Andrei Kostitsyn W Predators

2011-12 salary: $3.25 million

2011-12 stats: 72 GP, 16 G, 20 A, 26 PIM, -1

Teams might be wary after it took the 27-year-old little time to wear out his welcome in Nashville after he was acquired from the Montreal Canadiens … His knack for goal-scoring – something north of 20 goals should be the norm if he is comfortable – make him attractive … Another player benefitting from a thin group.

17. Sheldon Souray D Stars

2011-12 salary: $1.65 million

2011-12 stats: 64 GP, 6 G, 15 A, 73 PIM, +11

Rebounded nicely after the Oilers buried him and his contract in the minors … When he unleashes it, he remains in possession of one of the hardest slapshots in the NHL … The 35-year-old could add depth to most defence corps and would be a solid option on the second power-play unit.

 

18. Filip Kuba D Senators

2011-12 salary: $3.7 million

2011-12 stats: 73 GP, 6 G, 26 A, 26 PIM, +26

You’re going to get a solid veteran presence with this 35-year-old patrolling your blue line … His plus-26 led a Senators team that surprised more or less every prognosticator … Could be a factor for second power-play unit on team that signs him, but just don’t expect a defenceman who is overly physical.

 

19. Kyle Wellwood C Jets

2011-12 salary: $700,000

2011-12 stats: 77 GP, 18 G, 29 A, 4 PIM, +3

Tied his career-high in goals and established a personal best with 47 points … Consistency has been an issue in his four NHL stops but it appears he might finally have turned a corner … One of the smartest players off the ice in the NHL … He will never beat you with speed, but his nifty puck moves get him out of trouble.

 

20. Bryce Salvador D Devils

2011-12 salary: $2.9 million

2011-12 stats: 82 GP, 0 G, 9 A, 66 PIM, +18

Salvador had one of those solid but quiet seasons that slipped under the radar everywhere but in the Devils dressing room … Led New Jersey in plus-minus after missing all of 2010-11 with an inner-ear concussion … The 36-year-old discovered offence in playoffs with four goals and 10 assists in 24 games.

 

21. Brandon Prust LW Rangers

2011-12 salary: $800,000

2011-12 stats: 82 GP, 5 G, 12 A, 156 PIM, -1

Skinny: One of the few bona fide crashers and bangers available who can put the puck in the net every so often … Has 18 goals and 316 penalty minutes in the past two seasons combined … Strong penalty killer who helped Rangers finish fifth in that category … Teams looking for truculence will be lined up at the 28-year-old’s door.

 

22. Sami Salo D Canucks

2011-12 salary: $2 million

2011-12 stats: 69 GP, 9 G, 16 A, 10 PIM, +7

Yet another of the group in the 35-and-over range, but at 37, he can be dependable at both ends of the ice while eating up 20 minutes a game … Has not played in more than 69 games since 2003-04, when appeared in 74 for the Canucks … Seven of his nine goals came with a man-advantage.

23. Jason Arnott C Blues

2011-12 salary: $2.5 million

2011-12 stats: 72 GP, 17 G, 17 A, 26 PIM, +13

Arnott will turn 38 the week the regular season opens but still can contribute … Six of his 17 goals last season were on the power play … Post-season experience is extensive, with 73 points in 122 career playoff games … Would be a strong voice in the dressing room and serve as a mentor for younger players.

 

24. Petr Sykora RW Devils

2011-12 salary: $650,000

2011-12 stats: 82 GP, 21 G, 23 A, 40 PIM, +4

Returned to the NHL from one year in the KHL and enjoyed his 11th 20-goal season … Teams might wonder why the 35-year-old was a healthy scratch during the Devils’ Stanley Cup run, but he still has the kind of savvy that can be helpful … Usually has the presence of mind to make the right play.

 

25. Dominic Moore C Sharks

2011-12 salary: $1.2 million

2011-12 stats: 79 GP, 4 G, 21 A, 54 PIM, -18

It’s easy to forget Moore is just 31, considering he has played for nine teams since 2003-04, when he broke into the NHL with the Rangers … Did not have the impact Sharks hoped for when they got him from the Lightning at the trade deadline, recording just six assists in 23 games before going pointless in the playoffs.

 

26. Steve Sullivan RW Penguins

2011-12 salary: $1.5 million

2011-12 stats: 79 GP, 17 G, 31 A, 20 PIM, -2

Demonstrated he is capable of prolonging his NHL career with a bounce-back performance for the Penguins … If his recent pattern stays true, bound to miss a large chunk next season because of injury … Turns 38 on Friday … Would bring some offensive depth to a club that is looking for a second-tier player.

 

27. Ruslan Fedotenko LW Rangers

2011-12 salary: $1.4 million

2011-12 stats: 73 GP, 9 G, 11 A, 16 PIM, -7

Turned his defensive game around in the post-season, leading the Rangers with a plus-7 mark … Twice in his career has played a fairly significant role in a Stanley Cup title (2004 with Tampa and 2009 with Pittsburgh) … Doesn’t score as much as he once did but at 33, has had plenty of experience in various situations.

 

28. Carlo Colaiacovo D Blues

2011-12 salary: $2.5 million

2011-12 stats: 64 GP, 2 G, 17 A, 22 PIM, +7

Injuries long have taken their toll on Colaiacovo, and he has not played in more than 73 games in one season … When healthy, the 29-year-old has proven to be a steady defenceman … Has a touch of offence and moves the puck well … One of those players who might not be waiting long on Sunday for a new contract.

 

29. Alexei Ponikarovsky LW Devils

2011-12 salary: $1.5 million

2011-12 stats: 82 GP, 14 G, 19 A, 34 PIM, -3

Came back to life this past season for first time after leaving Maple Leafs two years ago … Found a home on Devils’ third line and was a consistent performer in the playoffs … If he signs elsewhere, will be sixth team in 21/2 years … The 32-year-old can play a gritty game and take the body on the forecheck.

30. Jonas Gustavsson G Jets

2011-12 salary: $1.4 million

2011-12 stats: 42 GP, 17W-17L-4OT, 4 SO, .902 SV PCT., 2.92 GAA

Many assumed Jets would sign him when they acquired him at draft from Toronto, but that did not happen … Appears to have put health issues in the past … Some figure the 27-year-old would be a better goalie if allowed to rely more on his athletic ability … Would be a strong backup as long as he has confidence.

 


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