Sunday, June 1, 2014

2015 NHL Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA) Forwards

2015 will be a pivotal year for the Chicago Blackhawks, and in particular their two key free-agents to-be.  When the 2014-15 NHL season concludes, Chicago's top two forwards, Patrick Kane and Jonathan
Toews will be addressing the free agent market (unless, of course, the Blackhawks wisely sign them to contract extensions).

Jonathan Toews will be 27 and concluding a five-year, $31.5 million contract with Chicago after the 2014-15 NHL season.  The skilled defensive forward, who also does his fair share of scoring, is the captain of the Blackhawks squad that could be called the best NHL team overall, in the past five seasons.  It's doubtful that Chicago would let Toews walk, and likewise doubtful that he would leave the team if they gave him a reasonable contract offer.


 Patrick Kane, the number one overall draft pick in 2007 by the Blackhawks, will be 26 when his current contract expires with Chicago.  The winger garnered a contract equal to that of his teammate, Jonathan Toews, at 5 years and $31.5 million.  The Buffalo native has merited the deal he signed, averaging a point or more in four of his seven regular seasons.  His success has spilled over into the postseason as well, with Kane raising the Conn Smythe trophy as the Stanley Cup Playoffs MVP in 2013.  Kane's offensive skillset will be in high demand across the league.  Chicago will need to offer a very competitive contract to retain their offensive leader.

While the two key Blackhawks will play a pivotal role in the 2014-15 NHL Free Agent market, the most coveted, and highly paid, unrestricted free agent, will most likely be the Ottawa Senators' Jason Spezza.  The scoring forward has been playing with the Senators since the 2002-03 season, racking up points along the way.  Spezza will be finishing up a seven-year deal, worth $49 million, after the 2014-15 NHL season.  What did he do to earn that kind of contract?  Well, the season before his current contract started, Spezza notched 92 points in 76 regular season games.  He's remained consistently productive when healthy, notching 66 points in 75 regular season games in 2013-14.  At 31 years of age when he is eligible for free agency, expect another big payday for this highly regarded forward.

One of Spezza's Ottawa teammates will also be looking at significant competition for his services.  Winger Bobby Ryan is more of a pure goal-scorer for which several NHL teams certainly have a need.  One of the teams in particular that could use his skill, is the New Jersey Devils.  It would not be surprising to see Ryan wearing the red and black in the Garden State for the 2015-16 season.   Ryan will be coming off a 5 year, $25.5 million deal that began when he was with the Anaheim Ducks.  His first season as a Senator was a success personally, as he notched 23 goals to go with 25 assists in 70 regular season games.

Another young goal scorer who will be facing free agency in 2015 is the tough Chris Stewart of the Buffalo Sabres.  The Toronto-born winger has amassed 115 goals and 113 assists in his 382 regular season games through the 2013-14 season.  He's also racked up a decent amount of penalty minutes in his NHL tenure.  Stewart will be 27 at the time of free agency and coming off a two-year, $8.3 millon contract.

You can see the full list of 2015 NHL unrestricted free agent forwards at capgeek.com.


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