As a follow up to my list of the top ten defensive UFAs still currently on the market, this is the top ten offensive UFAs in the league. These players all have different values across the league depending on their skill sets and point scoring abilities, and are sure to be signed or picked up by someone before you know it. Forwards deliver the offensive production for their teams and are heavily relied upon to get the job done. These ten guys can do just that.
1. Loui Eriksson – RW – Boston Bruins
The best unrestricted free agent out there right now has to be the Loui Eriksson. The 30-year-old is bound to be a high commodity on the free agent market as he was a point-scoring machine for the Bruins last season. Eriksson is a solid 25-30 goals per season man and can rack up those assists as well. He finished with 63 points last season and is an offensive workhorse for his team. And his $4.25 million cap hit is very tolerable for a team that needs a new high-line forward.
2. Milan Lucic – LW – Los Angeles Kings
Lucic is a unique offensive player for any team he could end up going to. He scored 20 goals and had 34 assists for the Kings last season, and is one of the most intimidating players on the ice. He stands up for his team and is willing to fight other people’s battles, but can still produce offensively at the same time. Perhaps the biggest stand-out statistic for Milan is his incredible +29 +/- last season. The man shows that he is extremely efficient, and at only 28-years of age and cap hit of $6 million he is surely already being looked at by several teams around the league.
3. Kyle Okposo – RW – New York Islanders
Okposo has grown tremendously in his 9-years with the Islanders, scoring 64 points this past season off of 22 goals and 42 assists. He is currently being pursued by at least five NHL teams including Detroit, and for good reason. At a $2.8 million salary hit he’s practically a steal for someone who has proven he can produce big numbers and is a good assist man.
4. David Backes – C – St. Louis Blues
Backes is a proven warrior on the ice. He led the Blues to the Western Conference Finals last season and scored 21 goals and 24 assists in the regular season. He is the leader that every team wants and needs, and the kind of player that every coach wants on his bench. At 32-years-old his age may be a concern for some out there, but with age, in this league, comes maturity and leadership capabilities, both of which Backes possesses.
5. Mikkel Boedker – LW – Colorado Avalanche
Boedker racked up 51 points in his 80 games played last season. He is an excellent skater with good puck-handling skills, and at just 26-years-old he has a lot more room to grow and develop into a star player. He arrived in Colorado late in the season, so it will be interesting to see if he proved his $3.75 million worth to his team or if they will choose to pass him along to another. Either way, the future is bright for Mikkel Boedker.
6. Andrew Ladd – LW – Chicago Blackhawks
The 30-year-old 11-year vet helped pull the load this year in Chicago with fellow teammate and MVP winner Patrick Kane. Ladd had 46 points and 25 goals in his 78 games played this past season. He’s certainly a top-six forward for almost any team, and he certainly has some spice in his game. It would be in the Hawks’ best interest to keep Ladd around next year, but if they can’t he’s another good pickup for another team in the NHL.
7. Frans Nielsen – C – New York Islanders
Denmark native Frans Nielsen has been a consistent performer the past three seasons in New York, averaging about 51 points per season. Nielsen does a bit of everything when he’s on the ice; he’s an asset on the penalty kill, he is offensively skilled and is a very good defensive forward as well. It looks as though he may be parting ways with the Islanders, so he will be waiting for someone to steal him and his $2.75 million cap hit away.
8. Thomas Vanek – LW – Minnesota Wild
The Minnesota Wild informed Vanek that they will be buying out the final year of his contract this year, allowing him to find a new team for the upcoming season. The 32-year-old had 41 points in his 74 games this season for the Wild, which was not his best season but not the worst either. Vanek is a great scoring asset for any team and has scored 20 or more goals ten times in his NHL career. Too many teams are looking for extra help with the goal load for Vanek to stay on the market for very long.
9. Lee Stempniak – RW – Boston Bruins
Possibly the cheapest player on the free agent market is Lee Stempniak, sitting at a cap hit of $850,000 last season. He has proven that he can be a versatile forward able to play on a second or third line and provide a decent amount of scoring help. He finished last season with 19 goals and 32 assists, showing he may be worth more than his cap to the right team.
10. Eric Staal – C – New York Rangers
Eric Staal of the New York Rangers winds down the top ten countdown for this year’s free agency. His cap hit as a bit high at $8.25 million for some teams based on his performance last year. Staal is not the player he used to be, but he can still perform for his team. He had 13 goals and 26 assists this past season. I believe that if Staal finds a new team this offseason that could be the spark of motivation that he needs to get him back in top form.