If you’ve missed any part of our in-depth series on Winnipeg NHL players so far, feel free to check up on them.
Part 1 – Winnipeg’s Signed Players
Part 2 – Restricted Free Agents
Part 3 – The Entry Draft
Part 4 – Unrestricted Free Agents fitting in to Winnipeg’s plans
Part 5 – Prospects in the system and their potential
Part 6 – Management and coaching staff
While predicting the draft is difficult this next challenge is almost impossible given the extreme number of possibilities of what unrestricted free agents Winnipeg could go over so I’ll start by breaking down three of the notable players that will become unrestricted free agents from the Winnipeg team then touch on players that I feel Chevy and Heis will target and why.
Before I get into that I want to remind you that we feel Winnipeg will operate at about a $52 Million dollar Salary cap range and as we touched on in Parts 1 and 2 they would already be sitting at around $50M so factoring in that a few of those players may be in the AHL we’ll give us a budget of $8M maximum to spend on UFA. And even if the Bogosian trade with Edmonton were to happen Winnipeg would sign Nugent-Hopkins at a similar contract value so those salaries would simply cancel each other out.
Now it’s also important to break down who we will be in the market for. Ignoring the trade option this is a quick break down of a projected Depth Chart.
LW: Ladd, Kane, Thorburn, Slater, Courmier
C: Antropov, Burmistrov, Schremp, Maxwell
RW: Wheeler, Little, Stewart, Stapleton
D: Byfuglien, Enstrom, Bogosian, Stewart, Hainsey, Oduya
G: Pavlec, Mason
So we can see the need to sign at least one centerman but the rest of the roster is set, upgrades on the third and forth line could also be considered, possibly a veteran or two to help mature some of the younger players along as well. One position we can say safely the Chevy and Heis won’t target is free agent goaltenders and we expect that their signings will be more of the complementary role players then say a Brad Richards who would fill the need of a number one center and the team could theoretically afford under the league cap but would blow their target cap out of the water. So as much as he’d look great in a Winnipeg jersey don’t expect Richards to sign on the Winnipeg dotted line.
At 34 his best years are probably behind him and he put up only 1 point in 13 games after coming over in the trade with Florida. He’s only broken 50 points twice in his career so while there is a chance he’ll resign with Winnipeg I believe they will take a pass and look for better options for the $1-$2M cap hit he’d require to sign.
Also 34, Boulton is a counted on more for his physicality then his scoring talents. Don’t be surprised if he resigns at around the $650,000 mark again for another 2 years. If resigned he’ll provide some toughness at an affordable price with limited offense but since a -10 season in 07-08 has not been a defenesive liability going -3, -1 and +1 in the last three seasons while adding 176, 113 and 87 penalty minutes.
The 30 year old defenceman played in only 15 games last year and was a -7. I don’t care how cheap you are there are better options out there and he should be allowed to walk away. It’s possible he might sign a two-way deal and spend most of the time in the AHL but he could also find a home on another team in cap trouble that is in need for a veteran defenceman at an inexpensive cost.
So out of the three I feel Boulton is the only one that will be back with the team and at a cap hit around the same as he is currently which still gives us a max of $7.35M to spend on the open free market. Let’s take a look at some possible targets.
There’s not a soul in Winnipeg that would not love Chevy for bringing back Teemu for a swan song and even at 40 years of age he was still in the top 20 for league scoring last season so he’s got some gas in the tank and could still play.
I have to be the realist though and say even if Teemu would leave Anaheim it’s extremely unlikely that a franchise committed to building from within would bring in a 40 year old winger that needs to play in the top 6 when you already have 4 solid young wingers to fill that role and continue their development. The salary he’d demand would also be too much even for a one year gig. If Teemu plays in Winnipeg again it’ll be as a Duck.
Ha Ha yah right, just kidding with this one.
The 27 year old Steinbach native is just old enough to have grown up watching NHL hockey as a boy. There’s always a chance of a player taking a home town discount and White is likely the only player available in the UFA class that fits that bill. If they could get him to sign for around $2-2.5M he’d make a great addition to the team but could likely spell the end of either Bogosian or Hainsey via trade because White will log top 4 minutes and we know Byfuglien and Enstrom aren’t going anywhere.
Demands for Jussi will be high he’ll be due for a raise on the $1.7M he got on his last deal. At 28 he’d be a nice blend of experience and youth on a team that wants to build from within that’s a nice piece to add.. I see Winnipeg going hard at him but not being able to land him as he’ll sign for around $3M which is more then Winnipeg is willing to offer him.
The playoffs have revitalized his career and he’ll no doubt be a hotter then expected commodity come July 1. He’s a player that could really help this young Winnipeg team and like Jokinen is only 28. Once Chevy loses out on Jokinen he goes after Higgins and gets his man for $2M. Higgins will be able to bolster the third line and give them some more fire power which will help a very young top 6 in the sure to be pressure cooker environment in Winnipeg that they won’t be used to.
The Flames would love to have him back but re-signing Tanguay will take priority and they’ll need to let walk. Babchuk has a cannon of a shot and would be a welcome addition to the second unit power play. In the end his asking price will be too high compared to what the team already has and needs so unless Bogosian or Hainsey are moved he’ll only be a pipe dream and will land somewhere else around the $3M mark.
Chevy knows Madden well as both joined the Blackhawks at the right time just before going on to win the Cup. Madden was a crucial face off specialist and two-way player for that team and you can bet that Chevy will have him in his sights come July 1. At 38 he’ll be the oldest player on the team and not only will he add valuable defensive play he’ll also add depth up the middle which this team is in desperate need of. Madden signs for $1.5M
Due for a pay raise and a winger that needs top 6 minutes while he’d make a nice addition to the third line there’s little chance of him accepting that role on a team that isn’t a Stanley Cup favorite. There will be rumours but Winnipeg will not be on that list and he’ll sign else where for $2.5M.
The 35 center has bounced around from Washington to Calgary the past two seasons and his strong play in Calgary may have priced them out of their budget. He showed he can still contribute and played a variety of roles with the Flames starting on the second line as a winger then third line center before finally being the first line centre that Iginla has needed. That versatility will be something Winnipeg GM Chevyldayoff likes and adding an experienced pivot that could play top line minutes if necessarily while also anchoring the forth line will be too good to pass up on for a cool $1M.
We now how Chipman and company feel about loyalty look for that to trickle down to some ex-Moose players that hit the open market. While Baumgartner would be nothing more then an insurance signing for most teams, Heisenger knows the value he can have on the prospects and they’ll sign him to a two-way contract to be the captain of their new AHL team.
Another Ex-Moose that has been getting some valuable experience with the Canucks in their cup run. If the Canucks can not resign him look for Heisenger to use his relationship with him to try to lure him to Winnipeg so Chevy can ink him to a $1.5M deal and helps this team out once again down the middle.
So of the UFA’s featured we signed, Boulton (.65M), White (2.5M), Higgins (2M), Madden (1.5M), Morrison (1M), Baumgartner (Two-Way Deal no Cap Hit), and Bolduc (1.5M) for a grand total of $9.15M but we also said that with signing White we’d be moving Bogosian or Hainsey which we target a player in return that would be $1 Million less in contract value and there for be around $8.15 Million and right around our target of $8 Million.
Tomorrow will be Part 5 – Prospects, which would have been the last part however as we’ve promised on Twtter by request, we’ll include Part 6 – Management and Coaches.
For now though the question is who would you target if you were Chevy and Heis and why? We’ve included the list of scheduled UFA’s as per www.capgeek.com
I don’t think there’s any way the Sharks give up Ian White.
You could be right but ultimately White is unrestricted so he’ll get the final say where he wants to go.
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