Two weeks ago, I looked at the top five remaining free agents according to GVT. Last week, that focus was specifically angled towards defensemen, so this week it seems natural to focus on the best remaining unrestricted free agent forwards according to GVT.
With only Alex Tanguay remaining on the original list of available free agent forwards (Robert Lang will likely sign in the KHL and Saku Koivu signed with the Anaheim Ducks), letís examine the next five best remaining unrestricted free agent (UFA) forwards.
1. Petr Sykora (GVT 5.9)
Okay, so apparently Petr Sykora does not have a rift with former teammate and current head coach Dan Bylsma. Well, at least that is what we are led to believe. Regardless of that fact, it seems unlikely that Sykora will return to Pittsburgh after hardly playing at all in the playoffs (he only dressed in seven games). However, you would think there would be a market for the veteran winger considering he still tallied 25 goals last season. Never mind the fact that ten of his 25 goals were of the game-winning variety.
Sykora does not skate as well as he used to, but still has a cannon for a shot and can help out a teamís power play. In fact, he tallied thirteen power play markers last season and has the ability to play the point if need be. Additionally, he is only 32 years old, so it isnít like he is at the end of his career.
Expect the useful winger to secure a one-year deal in the $2 million range.
2. Dominic Moore (GVT 5.2)
It is truly amazing how a player like Dominic Moore can garner so much attention at trade deadline time, yet a couple months later he is a complete and total afterthought. Well, believe it or not, that is precisely the case. The diminutive center has great speed and quickness, but lacks size. His biggest attributes may be his ability to kill penalties and win faceoffs (54.1%).
While the speedy Moore does take a lot of penalties (92 penalty minutes last season), he does have the ability to strengthen a teamís checking/fourth line. Unfortunately for Moore, the market has almost entirely dried up and many teams would rather fill that type of role internally for less money.
Even so, expect Moore to sign a one-year deal at around $1 million because of his established ability to play that role and the lower price tag because of the market.
3. Jason Williams (GVT 5.2)
Every year Jason Williams sits out on the scrapheap and every season he signs with a team and adds exactly what he was supposed to. Williams is what he isóa scorer. He skates well and has pretty good hands, which led to his 19 goal, 28 assist performance last season for both Atlanta and Columbus.
Specifically, he is very useful on the power play, where he tallied seven goals last season and is able to play the point.
The little things such as faceoffs, blocked shots and hits arenít Williamsí forte, but teams already know that. The 28-year old is a scorer and that is an attribute that will always land him a job somewhere.
After making $2.2 million last season, Williams should expect a drop in salary to the $1.0-$1.25 million range.
4. Manny Malhotra (GVT 4.7)
Remember when Manny Malhotra was drafted early in the first round by the New York Rangers and pegged as the next great two-way center? Well, that never exactly turned out to be the case. Malhotra has turned into a very reliable defensive center, but his offensive skills leave much to be desired.
Malhotra can play at even strength, on the penalty kill and a little bit on the power play (however, his power play time was more so due to Columbus injuries). His 58% faceoff percentage is tremendous and would be an asset to any team. Malhotra doesnít throw his body around recklessly, but still does hit (just under one hit per-game). Additionally, he was second in terms of blocked shots for Blue Jackets forwards (just behind Mike Peca). So, Malhotra can help a team in a variety of ways. In effect, he is arguably the best player remaining on the UFA marketóaside from Alex Tanguay.
After making $1.2 million last season, Malhotra is almost certainly looking for a raise and a long-term deal. Otherwise, he would have been signed by now. Expect the character center to land a three-year deal, in the $5.5-$6 million range if things work out well. If not, he may have to bide his time on a one-year $2 million contract for the time being.
5. Todd Bertuzzi (GVT 2.0)
After reading Todd Bertuzziís name, many people still think he has the necessary talent to be far above a GVT of 2.0. Unfortunately, that really is not the case. While he still demonstrates tremendous hands once in a while, his awful defensive play and undisciplined penalties (74 penalty minutes) have extremely diminished Bertuzziís value on the open market.
Last season, Bertuzzi logged 4:03 minutes per game on the power play and 18:36 minutes per game overall. Considering he does not kill penalties and wasnít that effective at even strength (1.64 points-per-60 minutes), Bertuzziís skills are fairly limited. He also had a team worst +/- of -13 (I discounted Jordan Leopoldís -15, as he played in Colorado for much of the season).
Expect his salary of $1.95 million to drop down this season to a more reasonable total of around $1 million. He can still help a team on the power play, but not much else.
Richard is Editor for the hockey website Illegal Curve.