Quick reminder, if the chart below seems alien to you, consult our guide to free agent d-man for a primer on Hockey Abstract's player usage charts.
Much like the right flank, the market for left wingers has numerous positive contributors. This includes some big name scorers like Vanek, who should take some attention and dollars away from some of the better value guys.
- Tanner Glass (Energy Line Scrub) - A borderline AHL guy and depth checking forward. Guys like this are a dime a dozen in the big leagues and shouldn't even be on your radar.
- Dany Heatley (Washed Up Scorer) - Once upon a time, Dany Heatley could put up major points in the NHL. Unfortunately for him, that ability has declined dramatically with age and injury. If he isn't putting up points, he's a defensive liability and a mediocre skater. Don't bet big bucks on him ever being a 40+ goal scorer again. Similar Players to avoid: Ray Whitney (DAL), Brendan Morrow (STL)
- Tomas Vanek (Overvalued/Sheltered Finisher) - Vanek is coming off of a huge $7.1 million dollar AAV contract and likely still wants to capitilize on his scoring reputation for another payday. But consistently middling on-ice results mean Vanek cannot be relied upon to carry a line like his superstar paycheck suggests. He needs to be heavily sheltered and carried by a big time two-way center. Let some foolish big money teams fight over this potential contract albatross. Similar Players to Avoid: Milan Michalek (OTT)
Disclaimer! Not all of the guys listed above are necessarily bad NHL players. Some of them could be serviceable pick ups and depth guys. But remember, we're trying to get the most bang for our buck in free agency.
- Mike Cammalleri (Versatile Scorer) - Cammalleri helped carry a Calgary team bereft of top end talent, along with veteran blue-liner Mark Giordano; and he did so under very tough deployment. He can play any forward position and is a natural shooter. Despite his age, Mike is still scoring at nearly a 2 point/60 rate and can still boost your Top-6 offensive output. Ideal for a scoring line in an offensive role. Similar Players: Matt Moulson (MIN)
- Jussi Jokinen (Best Value) - Jokinen's underlying numbers took a huge jump since joining the Penguins and seeing regular time with Evgeni Malkin. That's certainly understandable, yet it's no reason to shy away from this versatile winger. You don't pay Jokinen expecting him to carry a line, though he's no boat anchor. You pay Jokinen to be a complementary scorer who isn't a liability in his own end. His contract demands shouldn't be outlandish given his age, career numbers, and his previous deal. Similar Players: Mason Raymond (TOR), Benoit Pouliot (NYR)
- Dustin Penner (Monster Man) - The 240 lb. winger has a reputation for being lazy and unconditioned. Yet he can still score given the proper role. Affectionately known as Pancakes for a curious breakfast induced injury in LA, Penner is a behemoth on the ice. He's nearly impossible to take off the puck and can be a physical front of the net presence that coaches crave. Something of a journeyman since winning a cup, but worth a look on a one year deal.
Disclaimer! You should never buy on a player without considering his career numbers, his quality as a teammate, injuries, age, and previous contract.
Don't forget! Free Agency begins on July 1st. Will your favorite team add a lemon or be one of the smart shoppers of 2014?
More from Beyond the Blue Line
- Evaluating This Year's NHL Free Agent Right Wingers
- Kings vs. Rangers: A Tale of Two Ways to Build a Hockey Team
- NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Final: New York Rangers vs. LA Kings
Andrew Devitt is an avid stat nerd and passionate Flyers fan living in Horsham, PA. You can follow him on Twitter @Drewski89