I had ambitious plans of assessing the options for the Canes to add forwards from the unrestricted free agent pool but have been crazy busy and just never found time to write it. Instead, let me offer a few quick hitters for players who might be available via trade or as free agent additions because of buy outs at forward:
Thomas Vanek (after possible buy out by Minnesota Wild). In terms of down on their luck proven NHL scorers who were bargains because of it, look no further than Cory Stillman and Ray Whitney’s roles in the Stanley Cup championship.
Andrei Vasilevskiy or a good proven NHL forward (because the Tampa Bay Lightning have too much depth and cannot protect all of these players for an expansion draft). Brett Pesce could be a really interesting trade chip for Tampa Bay. He helps with both their salary cap issues with 2 more years at less than $1 million salary and also because he would not need to be protected in the expansion draft. It is not clear what the ranking would be on the Lightning forwards if the team decided to trade 1, but with Stamkos in the mix the Lightning definitely go 8-10 deep at the position.
Teuvo Teravainen (because he has been leapfrogged by Artemi Panarin and the Chicago Blackhawks need inexpensive help on defense). The Blackhawks inability to find a fourth defenseman to fill the hole left by Johnny Oduya’s departure was arguably the team’s biggest Achilles heel. With veteran Hjalmarsson doing the heavy lifting, could Pesce be a serviceable number 4 defenseman next to a solid veteran like he was with John-Michael Liles? If the Blackhawks’ scouting staff believes so, he definitely fits budget-wise.
Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes or J.T. Miller (because the New York Rangers will have a hard time re-signing all 3 RFAs and staying under the salary cap especially if they want to keep budget to improve the team elsewhere. If the Rangers buy out Girardi, it could relieve some pressure, but if the team wants to add to a roster that was ousted swiftly from the playoffs by the Penguins in the first round, it could require parting with 1 or more of these players.
From the list, I like Vanek on a 1-2 year deal at $2.5-2.8 million. I love the idea of adding Vasilevskiy if Tampa decides to keep Bishop and move early on the expansion draft. Of the Rangers trio, I like Kreider as a still young but proven forward with speed, decent size and reasonable offensive skill.