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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. Author: Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)

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The top 30 unrestricted free agents of 2017

Matt Larkin
By:

A quartet of big-ticket Washington Capitals headlines an otherwise weak free agent class this summer.

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. That's a shame for the Vegas Golden Knights, who get an early-early negotiation window of 48 hours to speak with pending UFAs before any other team. The Washington Capitals will provide most of the fireworks, as they can likely keep just two from the group of Kevin Shattenkirk, Karl Alzner, T.J. Oshie 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. Some of these players will ink extensions before summer arrives, so I'll update this list in the weeks to come.

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's 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.

3. T.J. OSHIE, RW, 30

2016-17 cap hit: $4,175,000

Enjoyed career year as first-line right winger in D.C. with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Caps would be wise to keep him, but he won't come cheaply.

4. BEN BISHOP, G, 30

2016-17 cap hit: $5,590,000

Injuries and a trade that banished him to backup status in L.A. cost him some money, but he's still the top UFA goalie. Calgary rumors make so much sense that it almost feels like a foregone conclusion that he signs there.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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?

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. PATRICK EAVES, RW, 33

2016-17 cap hit: $1,000,000

Injury prone and just shattered his personal bests in his 30s, so he's obviously a risky investment. May be best off sticking with Ducks and trying to continue magic with Ryan Getzlaf.

11. 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.

12. 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.

13. 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.

14. MIKE FISHER, C, 37

2016-17 cap hit: $4,400,000

Preds captain and his country music star wife belong in Nashville. Odds are the Predators find a way to keep him next season.

15. 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.

16. 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.

17. KRIS RUSSELL, D, 30

2016-17 cap hit: $3,100,000

Oilers seem happy with him. He's a decent bet to re-sign. Continues to draw praise for his shot-blocking acumen, but his advanced statistics still suggest he's a below-average defender.

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. 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.

20. 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.

21. SCOTT DARLING, G, 28

2016-17 cap hit: $588,000

Excellent backup in Chicago gets chance to prove himself as a starter. Technically, Carolina hasn't signed him yet, but his name should be the first to fly off this list.

22. BRENDAN SMITH, D, 28

2016-17 cap hit: $2,750,000

A sneaky good add. His numbers aren't flashy, but he's solid defensively in the possession game. Deserves a bigger role.

23. 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.

24. 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.

25. 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.

26. 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.

27. 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.

28. 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.

29. 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.

30. 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.

OTHER UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS TO WATCH: Brian Campbell, Steve Mason, P-A Parenteau, Chad Johnson, Dwight King, Trevor Daley, Daniel Winnik, Brian Gionta, Cody Franson, Mike Condon, Jay McClement, Kris Versteeg, Peter Budaj, Jonathan Bernier, Derek Ryan, Chris Kunitz, Jarome Iginla, Jiri Hudler, Mark Streit

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The top 30 unrestricted free agents of 2017