Winnipeg’s Roster Analysis Part V: Free Agent Forwards, Cap Situation and Moving Forward

Posted by Richard Pollock in Columns,Features,Illegal Curve News,Jets Columns,Roster Analysis,Winnipeg Jets on June 1, 2011 — 4 Comments

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:

Cap hit
Forwards $24.0 million
Defensemen $21.75 million
Goaltenders $3.0 million
Total $48.75 million

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.

Moving Forward

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).

**Special thanks to the tremendous websites Behind the Net and CapGeek for many of the above listed figures**

  • Anonymous

    Very good read and it gives a good update to those not familiar with the roster. TSN also has a good “off season plan” for Winnipeg , I would encourage fans to read that as well.

    Winnipeg needs ( imo ) internal development as you put it from several of their young players ( Kane / Burmistrov / Bogosian ) ideally 2 of these players need to elevate their games to elite status . They need to add one if not two top six forwards and one of those has to have the ability to consistently produce points. I think #7 overall ( Ryan Strome? ) will be used as such this draft.  Rick Dudley has a great post season interview on the Atlanta sight at NHL.COM. He doesn’t hide that he feels some players simply have to decide how good they want to be and that they need to work harder to get to that level. A not so veiled comment for Bogosian , Kane, Burmistrov , Little et all.

    There is too much money tied up on defense , and there appears to be several prospects that can play this year or next at the 5 or 6 spot at much less a price and probably not notice much of a difference in performance imo. Buff got extended at big dollars , with the thought that he is still ascending, again imo. Let’s hope that is the case , maybe with the depth at D , they contemplate moving him to wing ???

  • Appreciate the comments.

    Re Byfuglien:Always a possibility, but at that ticket, he probably cannot produce the offensive numbers the team would need to justify the salary. 

  • Anonymous

     Re re Byfuglien : ala Antropov? Sorry being a bit flippant there. Not saying it should happen , or actually will , but as a full time forward the possibility of being a consistent 30 goal scorer is there. What is lacking more , productive , effective forwards or defensemen?

    I actually think he stays at D , he may be overpaid for his all around game though , of course not compared to some of his teammates .

  • Pingback: Illegal Curve Hockey » Blog Archive » Return of the NHL: Dates to know for the Upcoming Season()