Capped: Team-by-team most intriguing free agents – Part 4

Logan Doyle

2021-05-27

Here we go, part four. This week we'll check out the Los Angeles Kings, Florida Panthers, Edmonton Oilers, Detroit Red Wings, Dallas Stars, and the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Again, we run into teams with little-to-nothing in the way of unrestricted free agents. As previous I'll improvise to give coverage to players that deserve to be covered rather than discuss a player that holds limited value even in 31-team pools.

You can once again find the link to Alex MacLean's UFA salary projections here. The other parts of the series are available here.

Los Angeles Kings – No one.

Chris Wolanin is the only UFA for the Kings. There is simply no fantasy value here to discuss.

If the Kings are out of the playoff race next season, keep an eye on Dustin Brown. Its possible the Kings move him to a contender and retain half his salary. He will be on an expiring contract and an attractive mid-six forward to teams looking for extra leadership, grit and scoring depth.

Florida Panthers – Nikita Gusev, Age 28, Left Wing ($4.5M)

I don't think anyone expected or predicted the horrific offensive season Gusev had. He was coming off a 44-point season where he got better quarter over quarter for the New Jersey Devils. He then found himself a healthy scratch often for the Devils in 2020-21 and put up a meager five points in twenty games before being traded to the Panthers. He was noticeably better after the trade, but how much of this was Gusev and how much of this was a result of playing with Alexander Barkov is up for debate.

The pedigree is too good for Gusev to be this bad. There is a strong possibility he packs it in for the safety and familiarity of the KHL. It is a real concern to Gusev owners. A relief to some others.

Buyer beware until Gusev signs. I can't see him getting four million on the next contract. I can see a team taking a chance on him for $2M or less. 

If Gusev does sign another contract in the NHL in the $2M range, I'd be willing to roll the dice on him. Acquiring him via trade should be really cheap, if not a simple waiver wire claim (a lot of owners just gave up and dumped him mid-season).

Lots to watch here with Gusev. There are lots of question marks and a fair amount of risk. Yet, the reward for cost to acquire with the projected cap hit makes this a risk that could be worth taking. The upside potential of 20-points per million of salary is what you search for.

Edmonton Oilers – Tyson Barrie, Age 29, Defence ($3.75M)

There is a lot to like about his season in Edmonton. His .86 points per game were a career high and put him on pace for 70-points.

I don't foresee prospects Evan Bouchard or Philip Broberg influencing Ken Holland's decision to re-sign Barrie or not. They might be the future in Edmonton, but there's just no guarantee when either will be ready to take on such a prominent role. Defensive depth doesn't hurt anyone either.

Barrie's projected salary is $7.4M. I don't see Edmonton willing