Top 10 under-the-radar unrestricted free agents…
Talks are heating up as we are just four days away from free agency. Most fantasy GMs in cap leagues are paying close attention to what happens. I've already written a column on the top 10 UFAs, so for this week's column, I thought it would be a good time to look at some potential value UFAs who might fly under the radar.
Obviously, much of this will depend on where they sign and for how much. A defenseman who signs with Pittsburgh is a different opportunity than if he signs with Columbus. It's even more so if he signs for $2 million in Pittsburgh versus $3.5 million in Columbus. But there could still be lots of value out there. Here are the top 10 under-the-radar free agents.
10. Lee Stempniak
This one is tricky, hence the lower ranking. His last couple of contracts have been for less than a million per season. But Stempniak was revitalized this year and notched 19 goals and 51 points in 82 games between New Jersey and Boston. That's his highest total in years. So there could be a GM that will overpay Stempniak based on that. But he's still a great option in cap leagues if he continues to be paid around $1 million or less.
His points-per-game took a bit of a nosedive when he was traded to the Kings. But part of that could be chalked up to playing about five minutes less per game. Versteeg is a consistent 30-point guy who can flirt with 40 points most seasons. That's not great for a guy making $4.4 million per year. But around $2 million? That's pretty good.
8. Thomas Vanek
Owners of Vanek in cap leagues are about to breathe a big sigh of relief. After being bought out this weekend, no longer will Vanek be making $6.5 million a year to score 40 points. But let's not take away how effective Vanek can be. At a cost of $2 to $3 million, there's still plenty of value as he can still get 20 goals and 40 points. And he has shown great chemistry with numerous players in Buffalo, the Islanders and the Habs. He just needs the right situation.
7. Alex Stalock
There's not a lot of great free agent goalies on the market. The best one is James Reimer, who plenty of people are talking about, so he's not exactly flying under the radar. But Stalock could be worth a flyer depending on where he winds up. Just look at Thomas Greiss with the Islanders this season. Stalock hasn't been great the past couple of seasons, but was excellent in 2013-14 with a .932 save percentage and a 1.87 GAA and was expected to push Martin Jones for the starting job with the Sharks this season.
6. Jamie McGinn
McGinn has a lot of value in leagues that count peripheral statistics. He's always a threat to get 20 goals and is usually close to 40 points (although he has yet to break that barrier yet). He can contribute on the power play (nine of his 22 goals this year was with the man advantage). He's also good for two hits and two shots a game. That's decent value at $3 million a year. He becomes even more attractive if he starts making less.
Campbell is more of a mentor at this stage of his career. But remember that he still hit the 30-point mark this season. And eight of those points came with the man advantage. That's not great for a guy making $7.1 million a season. But he'd be considered a bargain if he were making $2 million. And 30 points is still doable for Campbell next season.
Purcell won't be as lucky with this contract as he was three years ago when he signed for $4.5 million a season. Of course, back then he was coming off a 65-point season and a lockout shortened season of 36 points in 48 games (a 62-point pace). But he's only reached 40 points in two of the last three years, despite playing with the likes of Taylor Hall, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. He did notch 11 points in 15 games with Florida once he was traded there, so he still has some fantasy relevance. If he can sign in that $2 million to $3 million range, there's lots of value there.
3. Shane Doan
No one is expecting Doan to repeat his 28-goal season. But it is important to note that Doan has scored 20 goals in three of the last five seasons (and one of those non-20 goal seasons was the lockout year, when he still scored at a 22-goal pace). So 20 goals and 40 points is easily attainable for Doan, no matter if he re-signs in Arizona or if he goes elsewhere. Best of all, he won't be at a $5.3 million cap hit anymore, making him a sneaky value pick in cap leagues.
2. Troy Brouwer
Brouwer: 18 goals, 39 points, plus-two, 62 PIM, 7 PPG, 142 shots, 200 hits
Backes: 21 goals, 45 points, plus-four, 83 PIM, 8 PPG, 168 shots, 239 hits
One of these guys is about to sign for about $6 million a year. The other will sign for about $3 million. Backes' fantasy stats aren't worth double the price.
1. Radim Vrbata
Vrbata was just awful this season with just 13 goals and 27 points (and a minus-30) in 63 games with the Canucks before he got injured. But let's not overlook that the season before when he had 30-plus goals and 60-plus points with Vancouver. Vrbata still shoots a lot and should be getting a cheaper deal than the $5 million per season that he was just making. Any type of a bounce-back season would be gold for cap leagues.
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