2011 UFA Class – What’s Left?



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.

  • Vintage Flame

    If there is a way to take Bogosian out of Winnipeg without having to throw in our first I’m all for it. I think at this point our first rounder needs to be untouchable, just because if we hit an injury bug or Iggy and Tangs just dry up on the scoring front we can be looking at a lottery pick and after how much I made fun of Colorado and how stupid I thought for throwing in a first for Varlomov was I don’t want us to start throwing in firsts now.

    What do you realisticly think it would take to get Bogosian from Winnipeg though? A package of Bourque(maybe they think Stajan still has value) Brodie and a third this coming year and second the year after maybe? maybe more? less?

    Also what about a flyer on Frolov if he is willing to come cheap as well? He’s a LWer and we have a what I believe to be a hole on the 2nd line at LW. He’s also less than 30.

  • Vintage Flame

    I would not mind at all if the Flames made a play or heaven forbid if they ACTUALLY signed Stamkos or Parise. These are the guys you build franchises around and are worth the 4 first round picks.

  • Wow are the Flames in a world of hurt. How similar are they to the Oilers of a few years ago, trying like crazy to sign the big fish in the UFA market and realistically not having a hope. What good does it do to have IGGY call him and try and woo him, Iggy will be gone in a few years so they had no chance of signing Richards. They still owe Phoenix a first round draft pick so can’t offer sheet anyone cause they don’t have the four first rounders. Going to be a long way down the ladder now and not a lot of hope. Sad how they have fallen.

    • loudogYYC

      nickja you’re getting your facts all mixed up.

      The Flames were favored ahead of LA and Toronto in the Brad Richards signing. LA even made a DVD with Gretzky and Kobe Bryant trying to convince him to sign with the Kings.
      They’re much younger and way more stacked than us and all that said, we were still in the running. In the end he said he wanted to be closer to PEI and play for a former coach.

      The first round draft pick we owed Phoenix from the Jokinen trade was used by the Coyotes last year and they picked Brandon Gormley 13th overall. We own all our 1st rounds picks moving forward.

      You say it’s sad to see how they have fallen, I say spend some more time getting up to date on the NHL.

  • What about Patrick Thoreson? He seems like a good low risk signing that could really pay off if his scoring in the KHL can carry over to the NHL.

    The other option, now that we are truly at the bottom of the barrel, is to try and swing a trade for someone who is being Bergfor’d by his team. An examples might be T.J. Hensick in St Louis (or Nigel Dawes for that matter). He’s scored more than a point per game in the AHL each of the last two seasons, yet has spent minimal time in the NHL. Mathieu Perrault in Washington might be another possibility, as I’m not sure how he fits in with all their signings.

    If we did that we could have the upside of a Sutter off-season without the downside of a random veteran/Olli Jokinen signing .

  • MC Hockey

    Thanks for the article on UFAs and RFAs too! First, hope the Flames sign a D-man who is decently fitted to the top 4…does that mean just re-signing Babchuk? Perhaps only if he improves his defensive game, otherwise perhaps McCabe(?) is the best veteran option of author’s 3 suggestions (Hannon too slow, Kaberle too costly/risky I think). And when do we know if depth-guy Mikkelson accepts his qualifying offer and/or gets signed for more by Flames? Is there a deadline on accepting QOs each year?

    Second, hope we get some forward depth, even if some two-way contract players are added for potentially future scoring like M Perrault out of Wash or something. Not sure about Thoresen, seems to thrive overseas but not so in NHL…so why would he come here again? But maybe worth the risk.

    Third, I have no problem with signing RFAs for reasonable compensation but not sure if you can get much for under 1.53M or whether giving up 1st and 3rd choice in compensation for any player out there is worth it (except Parise but arbitration choice squashes that per above).

  • MC Hockey

    Sorry to post so ofter…Kent – 3 things:

    1. I noticed that the link provided in artcile seems to be outdated regarding RFA compensation. See this wikipedia one which is different and clearly states the page was updated 25 May 2011 – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Offer_sheet

    2. As for RFAs at forward, can you sign guys who have been qualified already? If so, what bout guys who could be signed with potentially zero comp or just give up a 3rd-rounder. Maybe TJ Galiardi (former Hitman), Sergei Shirokov or just go for UFA(gasp) Kyle Wellwood or Brad Winchester?

    3. As for RFAs at D to get cheaply with perhaps zero or 3rd-round compensation, your thoughts on Matt Lashoff, Danny Richmond, Mike Weber?

    • You’re right, looks like the compensation $ are slightly higher this year.

      I can’t see anyone stealing Galiardi from the Avs…they have a ton of cap space and will match a minimal offer. Shirokov wasn’t qualified to my knowledge so should be UFA. I’d like to give him a two-way contract and start him on the farm. He led Manitoba in scoring last year.

      I have zero interest in Wellwood or Winchester though. The Flames are swimming in guys who are bottom-sixers at the NHL level. Ditto third pairing defenders at this point.

  • Biggest problem for Calgary is that Sutter and Feaster have handed out NMC’s and NTC’s like candy. Any sort of effective re-tooling or rebuild cant really happen until such contracts expire or another G.M. would foolishly take them on. Strange times ahead