Winnipeg’s Roster Analysis Part V: Free Agent Forwards, Cap Situation and Moving Forward
Part V. Free Agents Forwards:
Unrestricted free agents (UFA) are not as desirable as they were pre-lockout. Generally, teams lockdown their best players well into their UFA years, which limits the amount of quality star players hitting the market each season. Winnipeg fans, however, should not expect this team to dabble into signing superstar UFA players. This year’s crop centers around Brad Richards, a player who would look good on anyone’s team but a player that will demand a ticket that is not going to be considered by the Winnipeg franchise.
Not having the funds, or at least the willingness to spend the funds on star players does not limit the team’s ability to be creative in free agency. Of the areas the team needs to improve, top-six right wing slot is an area of need. Here are a few players that may be of interest to Winnipeg this off-season:
|Player||Age||Points-Per-60 Even Strength Minutes in 2010/11||Career Points-Per-Game||Ice-time per game in 2010/11||2010/11 NHL Salary Cap Hit|
|Scottie Upshall||27||1.82||0.48||13:26 (1:00 on PP, 0:05 on PK) in PHX; 15:45 (1:29 on PP, 0:32 on PK) in CBJ||$2.25 million|
|Radim Vrbata||29||1.86||0.54||16:22 (3:13 on PP, 0:06 on PK)||$3.0 million|
|Joel Ward||30||1.30||0.41||17:04 (1:30 PP, 1:52 on PK)||$1.5 million|
Of the three above listed players, the most desirable may very well be Scottie Upshall. He is an Alberta boy, is the youngest of the group and has produced nice point totals while playing modest ice-time throughout his career. The Winnipeg brass may have some extra insight into his abilities, as Upshall finished last season in Columbus playing under former Moose coach Scott Arniel. Upshall’s speed and willingness to go to the net would endear him to fans in the city.
Read more about Winnipeg’s Free Agent Forwards, Cap Situation and what the team will look like Moving Forward after the jump by clicking read more.
Radim Vrbata is more of a strictly skill player. He has good hands and a good wrist shot but lacks in the physical department and can disappear at times. His offensive skills would be helpful to a team in need of some pure offensive talent up front.
Joel Ward had a coming out party in the playoffs. That may result in more money in the free agency process but a short playoff run does not a career make. The hard working 30 year old can provide a coach with flexibility in terms of what situations to play him in, but his lack of offensive production would likely outweigh his value on a team lacking overall skill up front.
Overall Cap Situation
This is how the cap situation may very well look for Winnipeg prior to the team signing any free agents from outside the organization:
Projecting $52.87 million as a self-imposed salary cap by the franchise would leave $4.13 million in available cap funds. That is of course assuming the above figures are fairly accurate and that the team does not offload some salary. However, if no defensemen or goaltenders are moved, the team is likely to spend that available money at the forward position.
The way they are currently constructed, Winnipeg will have a difficult time making the playoffs next season. Even so, this team is a few successful draft picks, a couple free agent signings and some internal development away from becoming a very good franchise. Make no mistake, the pieces are in place to take this team to the next level but as with all young teams, patience will be a virtue in Winnipeg’s first season back in the NHL since 1996.
Regardless of the team’s initial success, I think I speak for all Winnipeggers in saying, “Go Jets Go” (even if the name isn’t Jets).