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There’s always next year: Top restricted free agents for 2012

Jul 20, 2011, 11:00 AM EDT

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Earlier today, we took a look at the best players who might become available via unrestricted free agency in 2012. From a dreaded lockout to re-signings and retirement, there are a lot of things that can happen between today and July 1, 2012. That being said, it’s still fun to forecast free agency next year. If nothing else, it gives us an interesting sneak preview for some of the storylines that could shape much of the talk during the 2011-12 season.

To complete the picture, we thought it would be wise to take a look at the best restricted free agents as well. Naturally, these players are even less likely to become available to other NHL teams, but crazier things have happened.

We’ll go position-by-position with the potential RFAs. A player’s expiring cap hit is in parentheses.

source: APTop potential RFA forwards for 2012 (complete list)

David Krejci ($3.75 million)
John Tavares ($3.75M)
Matt Duchene ($3.75M)
Logan Couture ($1.24M)
Chris Stewart ($2.88M)
Kris Versteeg ($3.08M)
T.J. Oshie ($2.35M)
James Van Riemsdyk ($1.65)
James Neal ($2.88M)
Mason Raymond ($2.55M)
Evander Kane ($3.1M)
David Perron ($2.15M)
Steve Downie ($1.85M)
Sergei Kostitsyn ($2.5M)

Other notables: Wojtek Wolski, Peter Mueller and Eric Fehr.

source: APTop potential RFA defensemen for 2012 (complete list)

Mike Green ($5.25M)
Tyler Myers ($1.3M)
Victor Hedman ($3.5M)
Erik Johnson ($2.6M)
P.K. Subban ($875K)
Kyle Quincey ($3.13M)
Erik Karlsson ($1.3M)
Alex Goligoski ($1.83M)
Dmitri Kulikov ($1.33M)
Mike Del Zotto ($1.1M)

Other notables: Cam Barker, Matt Niskanen and Thomas Hickey.

Top potential RFA goalies for 2012 (complete list)

Carey Price ($2.75M)
Tuukka Rask ($1.25M)
Ondrej Pavelec ($1.15M)
Corey Schneider ($900K)
Anders Lindback ($875K)

Other notables: Jussi Rynnas, Mikko Koskinen, Devan Dubnyk, Ben Bishop and Leland Irving.

source: Getty ImagesComments:

However their teams handle these situations, there are a quite a few interesting potential storylines to be found in this group.

There are a few players who should receive some hearty raises. James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Myers and P.K. Subban might not be bargains much longer, especially if they follow their career trajectories and rank as crucial members of their respective teams. That could be an especially big problem for the Sabres and Flyers since it appears both franchises are going to test the salary cap ceiling’s limits.

The goalies could make things interesting as well. Price justified Montreal’s gamble to part ways with Jaroslav Halak last season; if he matches those efforts in 2011-12 he should be in line for a hearty check. Pavelec needs to prove he’s the goalie of the future in Winnipeg (the jury’s out on that one). Meanwhile, Rask and Schneider are two backups who could be seen as future starters while Lindback might be a few seasons away from getting a legit shot.

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