With the NHL’s Free Agency period set to begin on July 1, 2012, the Winnipeg Jets still have several holes to fill on their roster for next season. The Jets have already signed Center Jim Slater (3 years, $4.8 million) but the hockey club still has to make decisions on UFA’s Tanner Glass, Kyle Wellwood, Chris Mason and others.
The 2012 Unrestricted Free Agent Class is considered to be a weak one ( with the exception being Zach Parise and Ryan Suter) but there are still plenty of value players that could help the Jets next season.
Because it is no secret that the Jets are thin up the middle and on the wings, Illegal Curve has put together a list of 5 Forwards who are set to become Unrestricted Free Agents on July 1 that the Jets could target.
*The list is in no particular order
Five UFA Forwards the Winnipeg Jets could target (The player’s last team and 2011’12 salary in parenthesis):
1. P.A. Parenteau, Right Wing (New York Islanders, $1,250,000)– P.A. Parenteau has spent the last two seasons with the New York Islanders playing mainly on the team’s top line alongside John Tavares and Matt Moulson. The 29-year-old native of Hull, Quebec is a dynamic forward who has an excellent shot and above-average playmaking abilities. A 9th round draft pick of the Anaheim Ducks in 2001, Parenteau had to play in the American Hockey League for parts of seven years before making it as a regular in the NHL which is a testament to his work ethic and dedication to the game. As for why he would fit in with the Jets, it is quite simple. The Jets need a Top-Six Forward and PA Parenteau would be an upgrade over Kyle Wellwood as a second line right winger. Even if Parenteau is seeking a raise from last year’s salary, he would be a quality signing for the Jets.
2. Jarret Stoll, Center (Los Angeles Kings, $3,600,000)– Jarret Stoll is only two weeks from a Stanley Cup victory with the Los Angeles Kings but he is set to become a highly sought after unrestricted free agent come July 1st and the Winnipeg Jets could definitely use his services. Stoll, 29, has the right combination of size, skill and experience to be a 2nd line center for the Winnipeg Jets and although he may be coming off of a terrible offensive season (78 games played, six goals, 15 assists, 21 points) he is still a very serviceable NHL center. Consider that Stoll averaged 18 goals and 43 points the previous three seasons and it is clear that he would be an upgrade for the Jets who used Nikolai Antropov and Alex Burmistrov as their 2nd line centers last season. Stoll had a career high 68 points with the Edmonton Oilers in 2005’06.
3. Jiri Hudler, Center (Detroit Red Wings, $2,875,000)– Jiri Hudler scored a career-high 25 goals for the Detroit Red Wings this past season but it is believed that Hudler is going to test the free agent market come July 1st. Hudler is an extremely talented centerman who has excellent hands and a very deceptive quick-release shot. There are drawbacks to Hudler’s game however as he is small (5’10”) and not very physical. The strengths in his game, that being offensive production, skating and creativity may cause some teams to over pay for Hudler. Because Hudler made just under $3 million with the Wings last season, it is quite possible that he may command $4 million on the open market which may be too high of a price for the Jets.
4. Olli Jokinen, Center (Calgary Flames, $3,000,000)- Olli Jokinen is an interesting case. A former 3rd overall pick by the Los Angeles Kings in 1997, Jokinen’s career has had its share of ups and downs. Jokinen averaged 20 goals and 57 points with the Flames over the last two seasons but it is believed that Calgary will not be offering him a new contract this summer. Even though Jokinen is 33 years old, he still has several years of good hockey left in him. One could make the argument that Olli Jokinen would be a Number-1 center on the Winnipeg Jets based on his size, offensive skill and vision on the ice. It should be noted here that Jokinen’s defensive game has improved in his later years and he was a player that did benefit from the tutelage of Brent Sutter in Calgary. Like Hudler, Jokinen may command $4 million on the open market which may be a turn-off for the Jets.
5. Stephen Gionta, Right Wing (New Jersey Devils, $512,500)- Stephen Gionta, 28 years old and the younger brother of Habs Captain Brian Gionta, was one of the best stories of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. After spending the majority of the 2011’12 season with Albany in the American Hockey League, Gionta joined the Devils late in the season and ended up being a key contributor on the team’s fourth line with Steve Bernier and Ryan Carter (24 games, three goals, four assists). Gionta made the league minimum in 2011’12 and will surely look for a raise on last year’s salary. The Jets could use some extra scoring punch on their third line and Gionta could be available for under $1 million.