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In this edition of the hotstove, we share our thoughts on which forwards teams should avoid in unrestricted free agency.
Wayne Simmonds. A down season no doubt hurt his value but I continue to see reporters talk about the playoff performances of other physical players – such as Patrick Maroon – driving the market back up for players like Simmonds.
He was once one of the better power forwards in the league. Age has caught up to him in a hurry, though.
Over the last three seasons, Simmonds' teams have controlled a lesser share of the shot attempts, chances, expected goals and actual goals with him on the ice. It was a clean sweep across the board each year.
His 5v5 production has also cratered in that time. He's averaged just 1.17 points per 60 minutes, which is the same rate as Blake Comeau and Milan Lucic, and less(!) than role players like Nic Dowd, Mark Letestu, Barclay Goodrow and Matt Hendricks.
He'd still be a nice add to provide a net-front presence on the power play but, at this point, he doesn't bring much to the table beyond that.
Even if the asking price has dipped into the $3.5-4M range on a multi-year deal, I'd still look elsewhere.
I think teams would be smart to do the same.
Honorable mention goes to Jordan Eberle. His raw production, shot/chance generation numbers, and underlyings are all on the decline and he's almost certainly going to command $5-5.5M+ annually on a long-term contract. No thanks.
The UFA forward to avoid in free-agency is Kevin Hayes. Make no mistake, Kevin Hayes is a good player, but he's the exact kind of player you need to avoid in free-agency where an over payment is all but guaranteed. He is coming off a career high 64 points in 72 games. Those numbers are nice, and the advanced ones aren't bad either. He is a good player.
But he's not a difference maker. It would be very stupid to pay him a six million dollar cap hit. Especially since at age 27 there's an extremely high probability he's had his best year.
At the right price, Hayes is the kind of almost-first liner you'd love to pick up, but at the cost of his UFA price he's going to do more to help screw up the team's cap picture than he'll do to help them win.
Eberle had a stumbling season and has slowly been declining in offensive capabilities. Obviously the shift to Trotz probably did not help his scoring, but his was hit a lot harder than most of his fellows. It also doesn't help that without scoring 25 goals and netting 60 points, he's useless in every other aspect of the game.
A strong playoff performance and a fairly consistent career will net him a contract from an offense starved club (maybe even the Islanders themselves), but he was already beginning to look overpaid at 6 million and now there is little chance he accepts a pay cut.
He's 29, he's a defensive liability, his numbers have been steady yet not great and he's never been a plus skater.
This has red flags ALL over it. He'll want the Okposo deal and some GM will give it to him.
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