a·cu·men [ak-yuh-muhn] noun: keen insight; shrewdness

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Saturday, 26 May 2012

05/25/12 Top UFAs By Category

Jason Garrison here is leading all UFA defensemen in one very important category: goals. With 16, he's well ahead of the rest of the pack. After the jump, a list of some other UFAs who are leading in other categories.


Assists: Ryan Suter (NSH) with 39
Points: Dennis Wideman (WSH) with 46 (tied with Suter, but Wideman has more goals)
Blocked shots: Brett Clark (TBL) with 199
Hits: Brad Stuart (DET) with 177
Shots on Goal: Sheldon Souray (DAL) with 179
Plus/Minus: Filip Kuba (OTT) at Plus-26
PP Points: Ryan Suter (NSH) with 25
PP time: Ryan Suter (NSH) at 3:41 per game. Lidstrom actually played more, but may retire
PK time: Hal Gill (NSH) at 3:28 per game
Total Ice Time: Ryan Suter (NSH) at 26:30 per game

Seriously, Ryan Suter? This guy is so far ahead of the pack it isn't even funny. He led in four of these eleven categories and was tied with Wideman in a fifth with 46 points. The more a person looks at this list, the more apparent it is how important he will be to whatever team he signs with. He can be a number one defenseman on a good team without any difficulty. It's a nice dream to think he would come to Edmonton because he could do so much to turn the defense around in every aspect of the game, but the chances of the Oilers landing a player of Suter's calibre appear to be beyond slim.

Sheldon Souray, Filip Kuba and Brett Clark are all 35 years old, while Hal Gill is 37. Brad Stuart appears to be headed to California. This free agent crop is quite top heavy, so if the Oilers strike out on Wideman, Suter or Matt Carle they would be ill-advised to pursue one of these others.


Goals: Zach Parise (NJD) with 31
Assists: Ray Whitney (PHX) with 53
Points: Ray Whitney (PHX) with 77
Blocked Shots: Jim Slater (WIN) with 73
Hits: Tanner Glass (WIN) with 246
Shots on Goal: Zach Parise (NJD) with 293
Plus/Minus: Chris Kelly (BOS) at Plus-33
Faceoff Percentage: Adam Hall (TBL) at 59.5% (minimum 200 draws taken)
PP Points: Teemu Selanne (ANA) with 28
PP Time: Ray Whitney (PHX) at 3:46 per game
PK Time: Jay McClement (COL) at 3:06 per game
Total Ice Time: Zach Parise (NJD) at 21:29 per game

The free agent forward class is as top heavy as the defenders. Zach Parise is the best available forward, but a deep run in New Jersey may convince him to stay there. P-A Parenteau (not listed) is probably the next-best offensive option after Parise. Amazingly, the 29 year old has played just 188 NHL games and yet he has collected 129 points. He's coming off of a 67 point season, was third in points by pending free agents, and should get a nice payday in July.

Ray Whitney is a great story, but the man's 40 years old. This season was Selanne-esque for him, as his 77 points are tied for the second-highest single season total of his career. That's just plain awesome, but his age will still reduce the interest in him and the Oilers won't be calling.

Speaking of older guys, Chris Kelly continued to be solid at 31 years old, and he scored 20 goals for the first time in his career this past season. Plenty of teams will pursue him if Boston can't get him locked up.

One final note: Jay McClement led all pending UFA forwards in shorthanded ice time per game, and Colorado's penalty kill was 12th-best in the league. That wasn't all because of McClement, but he was a key addition in the Erik Johnson trade. Whoever snaps this guy up will get a solid veteran of 553 games who can kill penalties, chip in a little offensively, and historically hasn't missed much time to injury. Solid depth player for some team out there.


Save Percentage (minimum 20 games played): Johan Hedberg (NJD) at 0.918 in 23 games
Goals Against Average: Johan Hedberg (NJD) at 2.23
Shutouts: Johan Hedberg (NJD) with 4 (Tied with two other players, but fewest games started)
Wins: Martin Brodeur Tomas Vokoun (WSH) with 25

Brodeur gets crossed off because let's face it: he's not leaving New Jersey. He counts as a free agent in title only. Johan Hedberg is clearly the best UFA goalie out there by these numbers, but he's also 39 years old and unlikely to continue playing at a high level.

In terms of save percentage, Hedberg, Vokoun and Josh Harding are the only UFA goalies who were above league average. At just 27 years old, expect Harding to get plenty of calls from teams that want to solidify the net. The Oilers may even be one of them, but they can't afford to pay him what another team could because of, y'know, Khabibulin. Aside from the remote possibility of a trade, things will be quiet in Edmonton on the goalie front.


So there you have it. There are a few choice names in each position that the Oilers might have their eyes on, but after that it's slim pickings. For that reason, there may not be much activity. Look to trades for significant changes if the big names don't want to sign here.

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