With free agency mostly behind us, the unofficial next order of business for Jay Feaster is finding a way to rid the club of Niklas Hagman’s contract. The former Leaf has struggled as a Flame and is now firmly behind Glencross and Tanguay on the Flames depth chart. Brent Sutter dropped Hagman into the bottom-six rotation by the end of the season and Feaster eventually put him on waivers.
It’s pretty clear at this point the Flames organization would rather move Hagman than keep him. He may rebound to some degree next year, but is unlikely to usurp Glencross or Tanguay on the left side. Three million dollars is steep price to pay for an okay third-liner.
The rumor floating around the web was Hagman to the Ducks, but with the recent Cogliano to Anheim trade, the Flames may have to look elsewhere now. The good news is, Hagman is one of the few guys who doesn’t have a NTC on the team so if Feaster can find any takers, Hagman can’t say no.
The Cogliano deal may take the Ducks out of the running to acquire Hagman (actually, maybe not) but the swap does illustrate that with the UFA pool rapidly drying up, the demand for spare parts who can play in the league is probably increasing. In addition, there are a number of clubs currently below the cap floor who could use both real NHL players and dollars before the season starts. Hagman would be both, with the added benefit of only having one year left on his contract.
Here are a few of the potential destinations:
New York Islanders – approximately $38 million committed
Garth Snow was unable to pull a Dale Tallon during free agency (probably because New York isn’t Miami beach) so the Islanders are still looking to give some money away. The organization has five RFA’s to deal with, but none of them are going to demand a big ticket. The most expensive might be Josh Bailey or Blake Comeau and if either them makes north of $2M per on their next ticket, I’ll be surprised. Hagman could probably slide quite comfotably into the Islander’s top six given their dearth of other options. He could also skate with Frans Nielsen on a checking line.
Colorado Avalanche – approximately $44M committed
Even with Tom Preissing’s buy-out counting against the cap, the Avs have to make up about $4M to get to the cap floor. The only RFA’s left for Colorado are TJ Galiardi and Kyle Quincey. They might push the club over the top depending on how much Greg Sherman chooses to overpay them. If not, Hagman would be a good option for them.
Nashville Predators – approximately $39M committed
The Preds cap number will shoot right up once they re-sign RFA Shea Weber, but even if he lands north of $6M, Nashville is going be short of the floor. They need to add at least two more NHL defenders, but another established body up front wouldn’t hurt the club either.
Ottawa Senators – approximately $45 million committed
Beyond the cap issues, the Senators forward depth chart is absolutely absymal. After Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek and the doddering Daniel Alfredsson, the next highest paid forward is Chis Neil. It’s all third liners, rookies and grinders from Neil on down, including guys you’ve never heard of in Erik Condra and Zack Smith. I know the goal isn’t to win anything in Ottawa this season, but it will be embarrassing if the club ices one first line and three fourths. Hagman would instantly become the fourth best forward on the team if he was moved to OTT.
Anaheim Ducks – approximately $50 million committed
Even with the addition of Cogliano (whom they need to re-sign), the Ducks are still dangerously thin up front. Their lack of NHL forwards will be further exacerbated if Teemu Selanne finally decides to retire this summer. After the big three of Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan, things fall off a cliff: Saku Koivu and Jason Blake are second-liners on the Ducks, but third-liners on a good team (at best). The rest of the team is a grab-bag of random names: Geroge Parros, Brandon MacMillan, Andrew Gordon, Matt Belesky, Dan Sexton, etc. This is before any injury issues keep in mind. A single, extended stay in the infirmary to pretty much anyone in the top-six is disaster for the Ducks as they are currently built. And they aren’t in the middle of an aggressive rebuild like the Senators, so winning is the ostensible goal in Anaheim.
The list isn’t an exhaustive one, but you get the idea – The rising cap floor and thin UFA crop may yet conjure demand for Hagman’s services elsewhere.