Prospect Ramblings: How are FA forecasts working out? (July 1)

by Mark Allan on July 1, 2017

The electrifying yet maddeningly inconsistent Teemu Pulkinen has moved from one desert NHL team to another, being claimed by Vegas in the expansion draft from Arizona. His contract situation remains murky.

 

In two recent columns, I rambled about new RFAs and UFAs and whether their contract year performances helped or hurt their chances of a new deal.

These free agents are all prospects, and more specifically, players who have not been graduated by Dobber from prospect status to solid NHL players. For example, Teuvo Teravainen of the Carolina Hurricanes wasn’t included in the review.

There was no plan to include veteran UFA netminder Steve Mason, signed by the Jets reportedly to a two-year, $8.2-million deal, presumably to mentor and perhaps push youngster Connor Hellebuyck. More about that at the bottom of this column.

After a blizzard of recent transactions and at the height of free-agent frenzy today on July 1, let’s see how my forecasts held up. Please bear in mind that some players were signed to short contracts to allow teams to fulfil their expansion draft obligations and in some cases to protect a better player.

Most of these players are admittedly relevant only to poolies in keeper pools.

Anaheim Ducks

LW Nicolas Kerdiles, 23 RFA: Outlook: A short-term contract offer. Outcome: In what is very much a prove-yourself deal, Kerdiles inked a one-year, two-way extension.

G Kevin Boyle, 24 RFA: Outlook: His 10-5-1 record for the Gulls … guarantees the Ducks will offer a short-term deal while they gauge what kind of future Boyle might have in Anaheim. Outcome: Signed a one-year extension.

Arizona Coyotes

RW/LW Teemu Pulkkinen, 25 RFA: Outlook: The next season or two in the desert will decide whether he has a successful NHL career or possibly returns to Europe. Outcome: Selected by Vegas in the expansion draft, so he’s still in a desert.

LW, Mitch Moroz, 23 RFA: Outlook: The 6-2, 214-pounder’s truculence comes with a history of bad penalties and not many points. He’s just 23, and could be on the move again. Outcome: Arizona did not tender a qualifying offer.

Boston Bruins

C/RW Noel Acciari, 25 RFA: Outlook: Four assists in five post-season games might intrigue the Bs enough to extend a short-term deal. Outcome: Boston tendered a qualifying offer.

D Joe Morrow, 24 RFA: Outlook: The Bruins need help on their back end and Morrow, still only 24, might get a deal as a depth blueliner, although he’ll be lucky if it’s not a two-way contract. Outcome: Signed a two-year contract.

Buffalo Sabres

 

Buffalo secured the services of backup Linus Ullmark for two more seasons:

 

 

G Linus Ullmark, 23 RFA: Outlook: In a perfect world for the Sabres, Vegas won’t choose Ullmark in the expansion draft, Buffalo will offer him a two- or three-year deal and he’ll back up fellow Swede Robin Lehner next season. Outcome: Vegas didn’t claim him and Buffalo signed him to a two-year extension.

C Justin Kea, 23 RFA: Outlook: Unless the Sabres still believe they have a late-blooming power forward, Kea will be lucky to get an NHL contract offer. Outcome: Buffalo did not tender a qualifying offer.

Calgary Flames

G Jon Gillies, 23 RFA: Outlook: Although the Flames have stockpiled netminding prospects, he should get a short-term deal to remain in the mix. Outcome: Calgary tendered a qualifying offer.

D Tyler Wotherspoon, 24 RFA: Outlook: Teams need at least one such defenseman and Wotherspoon was plus-30 last season for AHL Stockton, so he’ll get a bridge contract. Outcome: Calgary tendered a qualifying offer.

Carolina Hurricanes

LW Brock McGinn, 23 RFA: Outlook: Teams need bottom-sixers with a bit of grit, but McGinn shouldn’t expect a long-term offer. Outcome: Signed a two-year extension.

D Phillip Samuelsson, 25 UFA: Outlook: He played all of this season in the AHL and, with Carolina’s enviable group of promising young blueliners, might find himself heading elsewhere. Outcome: Signed one-year, two-way extension.

LW Phil Di Giuseppe, 23 RFA: Outlook: Di Giuseppe was drafted for his offensive creativity. Without production, he’ll be offered a show-me bridge contract at best. Outcome: Carolina tendered a qualifying offer.

D Trevor Carrick, 22 RFA: Outlook: Carrick is marinating nicely in Charlotte and should get a short-term offer, although he will have a tough time rising on Carolina’s depth chart. Outcome: Signed a one-year, two-way extension.

RW Danny Kristo, 26 UFA: Outlook: Strictly a speedy depth winger, Kristo is coming off 24 points in 54 AHL games. That might not be enough to get him a contract offer let alone his NHL debut. Outcome: Signed with Dinamo Riga of the KHL.

Chicago Blackhawks

RW/LW Tomas Jurco, 24 RFA: Outlook: Without an attitude adjustment, it’s hard to imagine him getting anything more than a one- or two-year offer – if that. Outcome: Signed a one-year contract with Chicago.

D Ville Pokka, 23 RFA: Outlook: Someone will take a chance on his size, youth and potential. Outcome: Signed a one-year extension.

Colorado Avalanche

RW Sven Andrighetto, 24 RFA: Outlook: Regardless of his role, Andrighetto will be an important part of the near future in Denver. Outcome: Signed a two-year extension.

D Nikita Zadorov, 22 RFA: Outlook: Although his scoring upside is limited, he has vast potential as a shutdown defender, which will guarantee him a bridge contract. Outcome: Colorado tendered a qualifying offer.

C Rocco Grimaldi, 24 RFA: Outlook: Those 31 goals pretty much guarantee a short-term contract offer. Outcome: Colorado tendered a qualifying offer.

D Duncan Siemens, 23 RFA: Outlook: The rebuilding Avs will definitely offer Siemens a contract. Outcome: Colorado tendered a qualifying offer.

D Andrei Mironov, 22 RFA: Signed a two-year contract.

Columbus Blue Jackets

G Anton Forsberg, 24 RFA: Outlook: He’ll have to toughen his mental game but Forsberg should land a two- or three-year deal to show the Jackets what he’s really made of. Outcome: Forsberg was traded to Chicago and signed a two-year extension.

 

With Anton Forsberg traded to Chicago and Oskar Dansk without a qualifying contract offer, Joonas Korpisalo seems secure as the Blue Jackets' backup to Sergei Bobrovsky.

 

 

G Joonas Korpisalo, 23 RFA: Outlook: Athletic and unflappable, the former second-rounder can expect the same kind of short-term, show-me deal Forsberg is likely to receive. Outcome: Signed a two-year extension, and appears to be set as Sergei Bobrovsky’s backup.

G Oskar Dansk, 23 RFA: Outlook: Clearly unready for North America earlier, Dansk is back on this side of the Atlantic and can expect a short-term contract offer while the Jackets continue to assess their young netminding trio. Outcome: Columbus didn’t extend a qualifying offer.

Dallas Stars

RW Brett Ritchie, 23 RFA: Outlook: The 2011 44th-overall pick is showing signs of being the power forward Dallas thought it was getting when it drafted him. He gets a bridge contract. Outcome: Dallas tendered a qualifying offer.

D Patrik Nemeth, 25 RFA: Outlook: Slipping down the depth chart and not playing enough to develop properly, the former 41st-overall draft pick might not have a future with the Stars. Outcome: Dallas signed him to a one-year contract.

D Esa Lindell 23 RFA: Outlook: There’s no question that the Helsinki native has a future with the Stars. Outcome: Signed a two-year extension.

Detroit Red Wings

C Andreas Athanasiou, 22 RFA: Outlook: Detroit will surely offer him a contract based on his ability and potential, although it might not be a long-term deal based on his results so far. Outcome: Detroit tendered a qualifying offer.

D Xavier Ouellet, 23 RFA: Outlook: The Wings could conceivably offer him a modest long-term deal. Outcome: Detroit tendered a qualifying offer.

D Robbie Russo 24, RFA: Outlook: Detroit will likely extend a bridge contract while the Wings gauge Russo’s upside. Outcome: Detroit tendered a qualifying offer.

RW Martin Frk, 23 RFA: Outlook: The Wings will surely offer him a short-term deal to see if they can persuade Frk to play some defense without losing his scoring touch. Outcome: Detroit tendered a qualifying offer.

Edmonton Oilers

LW Jujhar Khaira, 22 RFA: Outlook: The Oilers will not fail to offer a contract to this sizable two-way power forward candidate who skates well and has some puck skill. Outcome: Signed a two-year extension.

D Griffin Reinhart, 23 RFA: Outlook: The Oilers would likely have unloaded him by now like the Islanders did, but they wouldn’t get much in return. Outcome: Selected by Vegas in the expansion draft.

C Henrik Samuelsson, 23 RFA: Outlook: Edmonton might offer him a bridge deal for less money than a former first-rounder would expect, but Samuelsson’s current address is in Showmeville. Outcome: Edmonton did not tender a qualifying offer.

Florida Panthers

D Mackenzie Weegar, 23 RFA: Outlook: A righthanded-shooting defender with some skill and zest for physical hockey will usually get offered at least a short-term contract. Outcome: Florida tendered a qualifying offer.

C/LW Kyle Rau, 24 RFA: Outlook: He’ll likely land a short-term bridge deal with incentive to prove himself. Outcome: Edmonton did not tender a qualifying offer.

Los Angeles Kings

D Paul Ladue 23, RFA: Outlook: A short-term contract. Outcome: L.A. tendered a qualifying offer.

RW Justin Auger, 23 RFA: Outlook: New GM Rob Blake might offer this long-term project a short-term deal. Outcome: L.A. tendered a qualifying offer.

LW Michael Mersch, 24 RFA: Outlook: Blake will probably offer Mersch a short-term deal because he shows some promise and because the Kings’ prospect cupboard is not well-stocked. Outcome: L.A. tendered a qualifying offer.

C Jonny Brodzinski, 23 RFA: Outlook: Those 27 AHL goals are enough to earn him a contract. Outcome: L.A. tendered a qualifying offer.

Minnesota Wild

D Mike Reilly, 23 RFA: Outlook: Minnesota hasn’t exactly gone wild over Reilly so far, but he’s mobile, with excellent vision and an active stick. He can count on a solid, short-term contract offer. Outcome: The Wild extended a qualifying offer.

D Gustav Olofsson, 22 RFA: Outlook: The Wild like the all-around, two-way potential of the former second-round pick, and will extend a bridge contract. Outcome: The Wild extended a qualifying offer.

G Stephen Michalek, 23 RFA: Outlook: As much as the Wild lacks top-drawer blueline prospects, Minnesota has virtually no young netminders coming up, meaning a contract offer to Michalek is pretty much a given, although an NHL career is not. Outcome: Minnesota tendered a qualifying offer.

Montreal Canadiens

LW/C Charles Hudon, 23 RFA: Outlook: While not big or physical, Hudon has above-average offensive ability that should earn him a bridge contract. Outcome: Hedging their bets, the Habs signed Hudon to a two-year, two-way extension.

G Charlie Lindgren, 23 RFA: Outlook: The Habs cannot afford to not offer Lindgren some kind of deal. Outcome: Montreal tendered a qualifying offer.

Nashville Predators

LW/RW Viktor Arvidsson, 24 RFA: Outlook: GM David Poile will find a way to lock up Arvidsson with a large, long contract. Outcome: Nashville tendered a qualifying offer.

LW Pontus Aberg, 23 RFA: Outlook: Competing hard, if not all the time, Åberg can expect a short-term deal. Outcome: Nashville tendered a qualifying offer.

LW Austin Watson, 25 RFA: Outlook: While Watson has underachieved compared to his draft status, the Preds could still use a 6-4 muscleman who contributes occasional offense and doesn’t hurt them defensively. Outcome: Nashville tendered a qualifying offer.

G Marek Mazanec, 25 RFA: Outlook: If Mazanec gets a short-term contract reprieve, it will be only because the Preds are seriously short of netminding prospects. Outcome: Nashville tendered a qualifying offer.

New Jersey Devils

C/LW Joseph Blandisi, 22 RFA: Outlook: Projecting as a bottom-six occasional scorer who’s always a pain to play against, Blandisi can expect a modest contract offer but nothing like he’d get if he were part of the team’s core. Outcome: New Jersey tendered a qualifying offer. 

G Scott Wedgewood, 24 RFA: Outlook: The Devils will likely give him another chance, but not with a long-term deal. Outcome: New Jersey tendered a qualifying offer.

New York Islanders

D Adam Pelech, 22 RFA: Outlook: As an increasingly reliable back-end presence, Pelech has a future on Long Island. Outcome: The Islanders tendered a qualifying offer.

New York Rangers

LW Matt Puempel, 24 RFA: Outlook: Give up on him or give him one more short-term deal. It could go either way. Outcome: The Rangers signed him to a one-year deal reportedly worth $725,000 that allowed them to meet the requirements for the expansion draft.

Ottawa Senators

G Matt O’Connor, 25 RFA: Outlook: His wavering focus is troubling and O’Connor will be lucky if he’s offered a contract. Outcome: The Senators did not extend a qualifying offer.

C/RW Ryan Dzingel, 25 RFA: Outlook: The speedy, industrious forward plays a valuable role with Ottawa and can expect a contract befitting that. Outcome: Ottawa tendered a qualifying offer.

G Chris Driedger, 23 RFA: Outlook: He’ll probably get a short-term, show-me deal. Outcome: Ottawa tendered a qualifying offer.

Philadelphia Flyers

G Anthony Stolarz, 23 RFA: Outlook: GM Ron Hextall, a former NHL goalie, might try to deal Stolarz out of Philly while he has some trade value. Outcome: Philadelphia tendered a qualifying offer.

C Scott Laughton, 23 RFA: Outlook: He’s carved out a role as a useful two-way player and will be paid as such. Outcome: Philadelphia tendered a qualifying offer.

Pittsburgh Penguins

D Derrick Pouliot, 23 RFA: Outlook: He’ll likely be offered a two-year pact that’s his final chance with the Penguins. Although the Pens signed FA blueliner Matt Hunwick, they lost Trevor Daley to Detroit and Ron Hainsey to Toronto, which could help to open the door for Pouliot. Outcome: Pittsburgh tendered a qualifying offer.

C Oskar Sundqvist, 23 RFA: Outlook: Sundqvist will be compensated as well as the cap-strapped Pens can manage. Outcome: Sundqvist was traded to St. Louis and the Blues signed him to a one-year deal.

RW Josh Archibald, 24 RFA: Outlook: Due to the organization’s glut of smallish forwards and lack of cap space, there might not be a raise for Archibald. Outcome: Pittsburgh tendered a qualifying offer.

C Jean-Sebastien Dea, 23 RFA: Outlook: See Josh Archibald above. Dea’s odds of being offered a contract were even less until the Pens traded Sundqvist and lost FA center Nick Bonino to Nashville. Outcome: Pittsburgh tendered a qualifying offer.

St. Louis Blues

RW Ty Rattie, 24 UFA: Outlook: The cap-strapped Blues will be hard-pressed to justify offering Rattie even a lowball contract. Outcome: St. Louis did not tender a qualifying offer. Edmonton subsequently signed Rattie.

G Jordan Binnington, 23 RFA: Outlook: If the Blues offer Binnington a short-term deal, it will be because they are intrigued by his scintillating playoff stats with the Wolves and the ECHL’s Kalamazoo Wings. Outcome: St. Louis tendered a qualifying offer.

RW Jordan Caron, 26 RFA: Outlook: St. Louis will let him find his own deal as a UFA. Outcome: St. Louis did not tender a qualifying offer.

LW Kenny Agostino, 25 UFA: Outlook: Agostino has to prove he can put up numbers in the NHL, but the AHL season he just had should persuade the Blues to offer a one- or two-year deal. Outcome: UFA Agostino, the AHL MVP, signed a one-year deal with Boston.

San Jose Sharks

LW Marcus Sorensen, 25 RFA: Outlook: After a promising AHL debut, Sorensen scored his first Stanley Cup playoff goal. He definitely gets a short-term deal. Outcome: San Jose tendered a qualifying offer.

D Tim Heed, 26 RFA: Outlook: He’s small and doesn’t get involved physically, but this mature Swede is a power-play weapon who deserves a contract. Outcome: A two-year, two-way extension implies the Sharks have lingering concerns about his overall game.

D Joakim Ryan, 23 RFA: Outlook: Ryan, who added 11 points in 15 Calder Cup games, is a keeper for the Sharks. Outcome: He signed a two-year extension.

G Troy Grosenick, 27 UFA: Signed a two-year contract with San Jose.

Tampa Bay Lightning

D Slater Koekkoek, 23 RFA: Outlook: An assistant captain with the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch, Koekkoek just might be offered a long-term deal in spite of modest point totals so far. Outcome: Tampa tendered a qualifying offer.

Toronto Maple Leafs

RW Connor Brown 23, RFA: Outlook: Not everyone on a team can be a natural scorer. The Leafs will find a way to keep Brown. Outcome: Toronto tendered a qualifying offer. 

C/R/L Zach Hyman, 24 RFA: Outlook: Hyman will be paid like a low-scoring but valued depth player. Outcome: Toronto tendered a qualifying offer.

G Antoine Bibeau, 23 RFA: Outlook: Bibeau might well be offered a short-term deal, although the Leafs will likely have to sign a short-term backup. Outcome: Toronto did not tender a qualifying offer, instead signing veteran Curtis McElhinney and prospect Garrett Sparks to two-year extensions.

Vancouver Canucks

C/LW Brendan Gaunce, 23 RFA: Outlook: Three points in four AHL games likely aren’t enough to keep Gaunce in Vancouver unless it’s a short-term two-way deal. Outcome: Vancouver tendered a qualifying offer.

RW Anton Rodin, 26 RFA: Outlook: If the Canucks believe his wonky hinge can respond well to surgery, expect them to offer him a cautious short-term deal. Outcome: Signed a one-year extension.

RW Alexandre Grenier, 26 UFA: Outlook: He has no points in six NHL games and as much as the Canucks have hoped to nurture him into a Cam Neely-type powerhouse, Grenier is not that guy. No soup, or contract, for you. Outcome: There’s no word yet about a signing. Grenier could wait by the phone for awhile.

Washington Capitals

G Pheonix Copley, 25 UFA: Outlook: Another UFA, the former St. Louis Blue will likely also be on the move as the Capitals shake things up. Outcome: Signed two-year, two-way extension.

RW/LW Stanislav Galiev, 25 UFA: Outlook: A UFA, Galiev will certainly try to rejuvenate his flagging hockey career elsewhere. Outcome: After recently saying he expected to move on from the Capitals, there’s no news yet.

LW/RW Christian Thomas, 25 UFA: Outlook: Like Galiev a UFA who never got into an NHL game this season, Thomas might shop elsewhere for a contract. Outcome: There’s still no news about the son of former NHL winger Steve Thomas.

Winnipeg Jets

C/L/R Marko Dano, 22 RFA: Outlook: “Dano’s time in Manitoba is limited,” I wrote. Outcome: Winnipeg signed him to one-year, one-way $850,000 contract, although that was to expose him in the expansion draft.

 

After attracting veteran Steve Mason with a two-year, $8.2-million contract, GM Kevin Cheveldayoff still has to sign RFA Connor Hellebucyk:

 

G Connor Hellebuyck, 24 RFA: Outlook: The Jets will either ink Hellebucyk to a short-term contract and pray he improves enough to get them into the post-season or they’ll cut bait. Outcome: Winnipeg tendered a qualifying offer. GM Kevin Cheveldayoff shelled out $8.2 million over two years to consistently inconsistent veteran Steve Mason, who wore out his welcome in Columbus and Philadelphia by proving he can’t reliably be an upper-echelon No. 1 NHL goalie. Hopefully he can teach Hellebucyk some good habits instead of the other kind. The whoosh you just heard is the air going out of coach Paul Maurice.

C/LW Quinton Howden, 25 RFA: Outlook: Considering LWs Kyle Connor and Brendan Lemieux as well as C Jack Roslovic are only some of the better prospects in the pipeline, Howden’s time in Winnipeg is likely done. Outcome: Winnipeg did not tender a qualifying offer.

Enjoy the rest of today’s first day of open season on free agents and the days that follow.

 

Mark Allan