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Looking forward to the top UFAs of 2013

Jul 5, 2012, 1:29 PM EDT

Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry Getty Images

By most accounts, next summer’s unrestricted free-agent class is stronger and deeper than the current one. With that in mind, let’s look at pending UFAs who, if still available and healthy, should draw considerable interest. (Of note, we’re not including current RFAs that could become UFAs, e.g. Shea Weber.)

Corey Perry (Anaheim) – Based on the contracts Ryan Suter and Zach Parise just signed, the 2011 Hart Trophy winner is set to cash in big time. Granted, it’s unlikely he’ll be able to get one of those long-term, front-loaded deals, as those are sure to be addressed in the new CBA. Perry will also want to improve on last season’s offensive totals (37G, 23A) and get them more in line with the ones he racked up in 2010-11 (50G, 48A).

Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim) – Perry’s running mate, the big playmaking center already has Leafs fans thinking he could be the No. 1 center they’ve been looking for in Toronto. The Ducks will obviously want to bring both Perry and Getzlaf back; whether they can afford to is the question. (“I think it’s imperative for the hockey team [to get them signed],” GM Bob Murray said recently. ”We’ve reached out to the agents and that will be an ongoing process. I don’t think it’s going to happen overnight. But we’ve reached out to both sides.”)

Scott Hartnell (Philadelphia) – The 30-year-old power forward is coming off a career best 37-goal season, and as of now the Flyers have cap space to get something done. However, that could change quickly. Bobby Ryan has expressed a desire to be traded to Philly, Wayne Simmonds will need a raise, Kimmo Timonen is a pending UFA, and if Weber becomes available, GM Paul Holmgren is sure to be an aggressive suitor.

Jarome Iginla (Calgary) – He’s not getting any younger, but the Flames’ captain scored 30-plus goals for the 11th straight season in 2011-12. If the 35-year-old wants to leave Calgary for a contender – and as we all know, that’s a big if – teams will be lined up to bid on his services.

Alex Edler (Vancouver) – Sometimes he plays like a Norris Trophy candidate, other times he really, really doesn’t. Regardless, his 49 points were tied for sixth among NHL defensemen. The Canucks already have four d-men under contract until at least 2014-15 for a combined cap hit of $17.9 million, and they’re another team that’s expected to push hard for Weber. Plus, Alex Burrows is a pending UFA and deserves a steep raise. If GM Mike Gillis could trade Keith Ballard, it would make it a lot easier to reach a deal with Edler. What won’t be easy? Trading Ballard.

Mike Fisher (Nashville) – If there’s one guy the Predators should be able to lock up, it’s Fisher, aka Carrie Underwood’s husband. But if Fisher doesn’t feel like he can win a Stanley Cup in Nashville, you never know what he’ll decide. Every hockey player wants to win a championship, and Fisher hasn’t done that yet.

Patrik Elias (New Jersey) – It’s hard to picture the 36-year-old in anything but a Devils uniform considering he’s never worn another one. Elias is also a two-time Cup winner, so he can retire in peace when the day comes. Still, nobody wants to play for a loser, and after watching Zach Parise walk away, the Devils’ future is anything but clear. New Jersey’s other pending 2013 UFAs include Travis Zajac, David Clarkson and Dainius Zubrus.

Niklas Backstrom (Minnesota) – In case you didn’t hear, the Wild just increased its payroll rather significantly. It also recently re-signed Backstrom’s backup, Josh Harding, to a three-year deal. Add it up and the 34-year-old goalie may not fit in the team’s future plans. Backstrom’s save percentage was a respectable .919 in 2011-12. A repeat performance in 2012-13 and teams in need of a starter will have to look his way. (Assuming Jimmy Howard re-signs in Detroit, other pending UFA goalies include Mike Smith, Kari Lehtonen, Evgeni Nabokov, Jose Theodore and technically Tim Thomas.)

Michael Ryder (Dallas) – Only 10 players scored more than his 35 goals last season. Ryder was also one of the Bruins’ top offensive contributors during their 2011 Cup run, with 17 points in 25 playoff games despite seeing limited minutes. Of course, the Stars will likely do their best to re-sign the 32-year-old for a few more years given their aging group of forwards that includes two 40-year-olds in Ray Whitney and Jaromir Jagr.

Joffrey Lupul (Toronto) – The seventh overall pick in the 2002 draft got his career back on track last season, scoring 25 times and adding 42 assists playing on a line with Phil Kessel. The Leafs will want him back, but with Randy Carlyle behind the bench, will Lupul feel the same way? The two didn’t exactly see eye to eye during their time together in Anaheim.

Honorable mentions: Andy McDonald, Stephen Weiss, Ryane Clowe, Derek Roy, Nathan Horton, Ian White, Tobias Enstrom and Clarke MacArthur.

  1. caps247 - Jul 5, 2012 at 1:39 PM

    Next year should be quite exciting.

    • ravenscaps48 - Jul 5, 2012 at 1:58 PM

      Agreed… Let’s start the bidding war for Corey Perry at 80 Million Dollars

  2. greej1938l - Jul 5, 2012 at 1:42 PM

    Stephen Weiss honorable mention ! Lol!

  3. theenutty - Jul 5, 2012 at 1:43 PM

    I know this is going to sound like blasphemy….but as a Pens fan, id love to see scotty hartnell in the black and gold….

    • flyersgoalscoredby88 - Jul 5, 2012 at 1:53 PM

      I was talking about this the other day. If he goes to the Pens, I’m sure we’d hate him as much as Pens fans do right now.

      Funny how many people we calling for Hartnell’s head last October.

    • wicky888 - Jul 5, 2012 at 7:53 PM

      As a Flyers fan, I would surely hate that afro bastard if he played for Pittsburgh

      • benzoids - Jul 6, 2012 at 8:47 AM

        He’s a player that you love if you have him and hate if you don’t!

  4. flyersgoalscoredby88 - Jul 5, 2012 at 1:49 PM

    So if Ryan gets his way, Philly can either sign guys to one year contracts, or do nothing, and have the money to reunite Perry and Getzlaf? A game against the Capitals or Penguins would be like 18-15.

    • ravenscaps48 - Jul 5, 2012 at 1:59 PM

      I look forward to those games! Hahaha

  5. greatminnesotasportsmind - Jul 5, 2012 at 2:03 PM

    The Wild have 14.5 million available next summer…

    • napoleonblownapart6887 - Jul 5, 2012 at 2:10 PM

      Do any of these guys have family ties to Minnesota?

  6. bensawesomeness - Jul 5, 2012 at 7:11 PM

    Losing Ian White could be absolutely disastrous for the Wings

  7. danphipps01 - Jul 5, 2012 at 7:36 PM

    Something tells me Iginla and Perry are going to be big targets for Pittsburgh. Iginla would be the easier one to target. Would have the appeal of skating with Crosby, which tends to work out fairly well for both of them when it happens, and of course the whole playing for a contender thing. Bet he’d sign at a relative bargain, too, considering the age factor. Not a HUGE discount, but hey, Perry’s gonna go for something astronomical by comparison. If Parise and Suter get contracts like that, imagine what a Hart + Richard winner’s gonna be hearing from his suitors.

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