It’s only July 3, but things are winding down already. With the news today that Niclas Bergfors was inked by Nashville to an ultra-chear one year, $575,000 deal, the number of viable free agents is rapidly diminishing.
The last few headliners left include Tomas Kaberle, Scott Hannan and Bryan McCabe. Kaberle is probably the best of the lot, although even he wouldn’t really serve fill the newly made Regehr-sized hole on the back-end. Hannan is a similar type and style of player to Reggie and spent most of his time in San Jose getting buried woth Adam Foote, but it’s an open question if he can still be an effective shut-down dman or whether he’s slowed like Cory Sarich over the last few years. Of course, Anton Babchuk remains strangely available, but I figure the Flames have filled their quota of bottom-pairing guys already (Brodie, Butler, Sarich, Carson).
Up front, the interesting names are pretty much all gone. Teemu Selanne is UFA, but he’ll either re-sign in Anaheim or retire. Jason Arnott is also available and might have a few miles left in him, although he’s slowed considerably since his 35th birthday. He’s also a center, which is a crowded area of the ice for Calgary with Backlund, Langkow, Jokinen and Stajan already on board. Alexei Kovalev is out there as well, but he’s been finished for a few years.
The only other option for Calgary is to try to snipe one of the current RFA’s from cap strapped teams. The Capitals only have about $500k in cap space, but need to re-sign Troy Brouwer and Karl Alzner. The Sabres are at about 1.3M in cap space, but have RFA’s Andrej Sekera, Mike Weber, MA Gragnani and Jhonas Enroth to deal with.
More famous RFA’s who are still waiting for deals are Drew Doughty, Shea Weber, Steven Stamkos, Zach Parise and Zach Bogosian. The Flames don’t currently possess their second round pick for next year (gone in the Regehr trade), so any potential deal or offer they could make would have to involve their first and/or third round picks. That means anything below $1.5 million or above $3.013M would be in play.
Any of Weber, Stamkos, Parise or Doughty might be worth the hefty bounty demanded by an RFA compensation. Each is an established excellent-to-elite player with some of their best years still ahead of them. Of course, there’s next to no chance any of their current teams wouldn’t choose not to match any offer sheets that come along.
Zach Bogosian got a rough ride in Atlanta last year, so he may be the one guy realistically available. I don’t know at this point if he would be worth the 1st and 3rd rounders it would cost to sign him to an offer sheet, but if the Jets are having trouble signing him it would likely be worthwhile to call and see what they’d want to acquire him. Bogosian has played the tough minutes since he broke into the league as a teenager and had a history of putting up points in junior. He has a potentially high ceiling and could likely slide into the Flames top-four rotation right away, easing the transition to the post-Regehr era. They Jets new management have shown highly suspect decision making in my eyes thus far (strange draft, poor UFA signings) so maybe the Feaster could take advantage by stealing away Bogosian.