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The top 30 unrestricted free agents of 2017

Matt Larkin
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The top 30 unrestricted free agents of 2017

Kevin Shattenkirk. Image by: Getty Images

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The top 30 unrestricted free agents of 2017

Matt Larkin
By:

A trio of big-ticket Washington Capitals headlines an otherwise weak free agent class.

Last year's stacked unrestricted free agent group gave us David Backes, Andrew Ladd, Kyle Okposo, Milan Lucic and Keith Yandle, to list just a handful of the top names. And while Steven Stamkos didn't make it to July 1 unsigned, he did reach the early free agent negotiation window, so he was essentially part of the UFA class. Don't expect anything close to the same star power this summer. The class shapes up to be one of the weakest in years, at least in terms of top-end value, and several coveted names have already been snapped up, such as goalie Ben Bishop. The Washington Capitals will provide most of the fireworks. They’ve re-signed T.J. Oshie but still have three big-ticket UFAs in Kevin Shattenkirk, Karl Alzner, and Justin Williams.

Here's a look at the top names out there, with salary info provided by capfriendly.com. Ages are as of July 1, 2017.

1. KEVIN SHATTENKIRK, D, 28
2016-17 cap hit: $4,250,000

Right-handed blueliners in the prime of their careers who can play 20-plus minutes a night get PAID on the open market. Shattenkirk is also one of the sport's premier offensive defensemen. He should earn as much coin as anyone this summer, even if he had a spotty playoffs.

2. ALEXANDER RADULOV, RW, 30
2016-17 cap hit: $5,750,000

Boom-bust signing went boom for Habs. He brought offense and infectious energy from the KHL, and his agent says he wants to re-sign. More than just a complementary scorer. Makes teammates better and can take over games. He’s posturing for a long-term deal, which could spook Montreal, but he’s still a decent bet to end up back there.

3. KARL ALZNER, D, 28
2016-17 cap hit: $2,800,000

This is Alzner's set-for-life window. He's a big, rugged, experienced defenseman in his prime who can play top-pair minutes. As the best shutdown guy in a weak year for UFA blueliners, he's a prime candidate to be overpaid. It won’t be his fault. The market will create a bidding war, driving up his price.

4. MARTIN HANZAL, C, 30
2016-17 cap hit: $3,100,000

Hanzal is injury prone but possesses great size and two-way acumen. He'd make for an OK No. 2 center and a championship-caliber No. 3 center with an organization chasing a Cup.

5. JOE THORNTON, C, 37
2016-17 cap hit: $6,750,000

Still a masterful two-way center and puck distributor. But how long will he take to recover from ACL and MCL tears? For that reason, he’s more likely to remain in San Jose than head to L.A., as has been rumored.

6. JUSTIN WILLIAMS, RW, 35
2016-17 cap hit: $3,250,000

Remains a steady secondary scorer, and he continues adding to his legacy as a clutch playoff performer.

7. RADIM VRBATA, RW, 36
2016-17 cap hit: $1,000,000

Still producing in his mid-30s. Wants to keep playing and has expressed interest in returning to the Coyotes.

8. PATRICK MARLEAU, LW, 37
2016-17 cap hit: $6,666,667

If he doesn't finish his career as a lifetime Shark, look for him to sign with another California team and not uproot his family. He seems more likely to depart than Thornton, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see them stay together.

9. ANDREI MARKOV D, 38
2016-17 cap hit: $5,750,000

Just keeps producing impressive offense as he creeps toward his 40s. Wants to stay in Montreal, which would require a discount but seems likely to happen. Is Marc Bergevin willing to give Markov term, though? Maybe a run at Alzner would make more sense.

10. JAROMIR JAGR, RW, 45
2016-17 cap hit: $4,000,000

Jagr claims he wants to play until he's 50. Will he make it? Still durable and can play on a scoring line. No denying he makes Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov better in Florida.

11. BRIAN BOYLE, C, 32
2016-17 cap hit: $2,000,000

Should be a contender magnet thanks to his huge frame, physicality and checking ability. Earned himself some extra bucks with a fine playoff effort as a Maple Leaf. Recent buzz suggests he might return to Tampa Bay.

12. SAM GAGNER, C, 27
2016-17 cap hit: $650,000

Commands a big raise. Quite a resurgence after Blue Jackets gave him chance. Doesn't look like they can afford to keep him, though.

13. NICK BONINO, C, 29
2016-17 cap hit: $1,900,000

'Bones' is a versatile center who can man a second or third line and comes up big in clutch situations.

14. MICHAEL STONE, D, 27
2016-17 cap hit: 4,000,000

Wasn't very good after coming to Calgary at the trade deadline. Still, boasts appealing size and strength. He'll receive plenty of offers.

15. MIKE FISHER, C, 37
2016-17 cap hit: $4,400,000

Preds captain and his country music star wife belong in Nashville. But Fisher isn’t guaranteed to even continue his career yet. He’s a retirement candidate.

16. BRIAN ELLIOTT, G, 32
2016-17 cap hit: $2,500,000

Played his way out of a starting gig, ending on a low note in Calgary. But he's still an excellent 1B option who should catch on somewhere.

17. RON HAINSEY, 36, D
2016-17 cap hit: $2,830,000

Plays big minutes and kills penalties. Could join another contender or an also-ran who will flip him at the next trade deadline, like Carolina did this year, sending him to Pittsburgh.

18. THOMAS VANEK, LW, 33
2016-17 cap hit: $2,600,000

Best to keep him hungry and sign him to another one-year deal. It worked great for the Red Wings this season.

19. MICHAEL DEL ZOTTO, D, 27
2016-17 cap hit: $3,875,000

Injuries are a yearly concern now, but his mobility makes him worth a small investment. Short term with a reasonable salary. Low risk, medium gain that way.

20. DMITRY KULIKOV, D, 26
2016-17 cap hit: $4,333,333

Better than he showed this season. One of the youngest impact UFAs on the market. Hard to believe he'll only be 26 on July 1. An interesting reclamation project.

21. RYAN MILLER, G, 36
2016-17 cap hit: $6,000,000
He's more of a mentor or a 1B than a starter nowadays. Likely to stay west to accommodate his wife, actress Noureen DeWulf. Maybe he sticks with Vancouver, then.

22. DREW STAFFORD, RW, 31
2016-17 cap hit: $4,350,000

Seems to get hot whenever he joins a new team. Worked out decently for Bruins and is interested in returning.

23. JOHNNY ODUYA D, 35
2016-17 cap hit: $3,750,000

Time with Hawks likely done. Long-term pact with be tough to find given his age and declining play.

24. PATRICK SHARP, LW, 35
2016-17 cap hit: $5,900,000

Won't be a legit option until cleared from hip surgery, but his experience is valuable. He's a poor man's Justin Williams at this stage.

25. CHAD JOHNSON, G 31
2016-17 cap hit: $1,700,000

Has established himself as a quality backup. Most recent reports link him to a Buffalo return.

26. CODY FRANSON, D, 29
2016-17 cap hit: $3,325,000

Value has taken a hit since his Toronto days, but playing on bad Buffalo teams partially to blame. Still in his 20s, still mobile, and a right-handed shot to boot.

27. TREVOR DALEY, D, 33
2016-17 cap hit: $3,300,000

Still fairly mobile and can log 20 minutes a night. A sensible depth signing for a good team’s bottom pair or a weak team’s second pair.

28. NAIL YAKUPOV, RW, 23
2016-17 cap hit: $2,500,000

There will be a market for 2012’s failed No. 1 overall pick. He needs a team willing to put up with his mistakes and set him free offensively.

29. JORDAN WEAL, LW, 25
2016-17 cap hit: $650,000

Weal is the anti-Yakupov, a hard worker who clawed his way to the NHL by lighting up the AHL. Weal impressed with eight goals in 23 games as an NHLer this past season, too.

30. STEVE MASON, G, 29
2016-17 cap hit: $4,100,000

Doesn't look like he’ll land a starting job. He’s a good fit for an apprenticeship-type role with an up-and-coming netminder, though. Think Winnipeg.

OTHER UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS TO WATCH: Evgeni Dadonov, Scott Hartnell, Alexander Burmistrov, P-A Parenteau, Dwight King, Daniel Winnik, Brian Gionta, Jay McClement, Kris Versteeg, Jonathan Bernier, Derek Ryan, Chris Kunitz, Benoit Pouliot, Jarome Iginla, Jiri Hudler, Mark Streit

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The top 30 unrestricted free agents of 2017