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NHL Free Agency 2016: Sizing up the forward market

Tampa Bay Lightning v Boston Bruins Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Sharks issued qualifying offers to four RFAs yesterday, starting the relatively short wait for free agency to begin on Friday. In the days leading up to free agency, I’ll be taking a look at some of the top available unrestricted free agents. I’ll include most of the big names and players I find intriguing while almost certainly forgetting obvious candidates.

All contract information is from General Fanager. HERO charts can be found at Own The Puck and all other stats come from Corsica Hockey.

Lee Stempniak (RW)

Age: 32

Previous Contract: 1yr, $850,000

Hero Chart:

The Case: Stempniak will likely come relatively cheap and he has been a productive depth forward. This would be a good value pick up for the Sharks.

Loui Eriksson (RW)

Age: 30

Previous Contract: 6yrs, $4.25 million

Hero Chart:

The Case: Eriksson won’t come cheap, but he’s a very good top-six forward who can score and drives possession. He’s on the wrong side of 30 and will likely be either overpaid, given too many years or both. Still, if the Sharks want to go all in right now, they might be willing to take that hit.

Andrew Ladd (LW)

Age: 30

Previous Contract: 5yrs, $4.4 million

Hero Chart:

The Case: Like Eriksson, it’s likely that Ladd will get overpaid or too much term but he’ll likely get less than the Boston forward. That’s because Ladd isn’t quite as good, of course, but if the Sharks want a slightly off-brand Eriksson, Ladd’s the way to go.

Mike Richards (C)

Age: 30

Previous Contract: 1yr, $1 million

Hero Chart:

The Case: Richards won’t command much term and head coach Pete DeBoer seems to like him. He didn’t look great with the Capitals last year and is probably a fourth-line player at this point in his career. Still, if you’re looking for a bargain with some upside, Richards is an option.

Kris Versteeg (LW)

Age: 29

Previous Contract: 4yrs, $4.4 million

Hero Chart:

The Case: Versteeg is a great possession player who provides some scoring, too. Coming off a decent midrange contract, expect him to get a raise this offseason. Depending on the price, Versteeg may be a better option than Ladd.

David Perron (LW)

Age: 27

Previous Contract: 4yrs, $3.8 million

Hero Chart:

The Case: Perron is a great rorschach test for hockey fans. His phenomenal possession numbers make him a darling in the advanced stats community, but his lack of scoring has drawn the ire of his recent destinations. Perron is a good player, especially when put on a line with high-level scorers. I’d be surprised if he gets much of a raise this offseason, which puts him in the Sharks price range.

Jamie McGinn

Age: 27

Previous Contract: 2yrs, $2.95 million

Hero Chart:

The Case: The former Shark was traded to Colorado, along with a couple prospects, for Danniel Winnik and TJ Galiardi back in 2011. He’s a decent bottom-six forward and won’t command much money this offseason. Like Perron, he’s not a big-time scorer but his possession numbers are decent, particularly when considering how bad the Avalanche have been in that department.

Kyle Okposo (RW)

Age: 27

Previous Contract: 5yrs, $2.8 million

Hero Chart:

The Case: Okposo is going to get a pretty hefty raise this summer, which might take him out of the Sharks’ price range. His possession numbers are decent and his scoring numbers were quite good in 2016. Okposo would be a great fit on the second line, bumping Patrick Marleau down to the third line with Tomas Hertl.

Steven Stamkos (C)

Age: 25

Previous Contract: 5yrs, $7.5 million

Hero Chart:

The Case: It’s not happening. Let the dream die.

Okay, who did I forget?