Carolina Hurricanes winger Erik Cole finds himself in a great position this offseason. Not only is he coming off an excellent season in which he played in all 82 games while scoring 26 goals and 52 points, but if he waits until July 1, he could be one of the most sought after free agents on the open market.
The teams who are looking in the market to beef up this summer won't necessarily find a plethora of superstars to choose from. After Brad Richards and a few others, the talent pool gets a bit shallow.
Following the jump is a listing of the top 36 unrestricted free agent forwards, who at this time, have yet to re-sign with their current teams. You'll see that Cole has scored more goals than all but two of them and his point total is in the top five.
|2011 UFA Listing as of 5/3/11, (from CapGeek.com)|
|1||Brad Richards||31||$ 7,800,000||28||77|
|2||Simon Gagne||31||$ 5,250,000||17||40|
|3||Alex Kovalev||38||$ 5,000,000||16||34|
|4||Michael Nylander||38||$ 4,875,000||0||0|
|5||Teemu Selanne||40||$ 4,500,000||31||80|
|6||Jason Arnott||36||$ 4,500,000||17||41|
|7||Tim Connolly||29||$ 4,500,000||13||42|
|8||Michael Ryder||31||$ 4,000,000||18||41|
|9||Michal Handzus||34||$ 4,000,000||12||30|
|10||Steve Sullivan||36||$ 3,750,000||10||22|
|11||Cory Stillman||37||$ 3,533,000||12||39|
|12||Marco Sturm||33||$ 3,500,000||5||16|
|13||Alex Ponikarovski||31||$ 3,200,000||5||15|
|14||Alex Frolov||28||$ 3,000,000||7||16|
|15||Radim Vrbata||29||$ 3,000,000||19||48|
|16||Milan Hejduk||35||$ 3,000,000||22||56|
|17||Erik Cole||32||$ 2,900,000||26||52|
|18||Jamie Langenbrunner||35||$ 2,800,000||9||32|
|19||Chris Clark||35||$ 2,633,333||5||15|
|20||Tomas Fleischmann||26||$ 2,600,000||12||31|
|21||Sergei Samsonov||32||$ 2,533,333||13||40|
|22||Vaclav Prospal||36||$ 2,480,000||9||23|
|23||Todd White||35||$ 2,375,000||1||2|
|24||Antti Miettinen||30||$ 2,333,333||16||35|
|25||Andrew Brunette||37||$ 2,333,333||18||46|
|26||Chuck Kobasew||29||$ 2,333,333||9||16|
|27||Scottie Upshall||27||$ 2,250,000||22||34|
|28||Brooks Laich||27||$ 2,066,667||16||48|
|29||Nikolai Zherdev||26||$ 2,000,000||16||22|
|30||Ethan Moreau||35||$ 2,000,000||1||6|
|31||Mark Recchi||43||$ 1,950,000||14||48|
|32||Mike Modano||40||$ 1,750,000||4||15|
|33||Radek Dvorak||34||$ 1,700,000||7||22|
|34||Chad LaRose||29||$ 1,700,000||16||31|
|35||Alex Tanguay||31||$ 1,700,000||22||69|
|36||Jussi Jokinen||28||$ 1,700,000||19||52|
One player who scored more goals, Teemu Selanne, might retire. But if he does return, he would most likely go to Anaheim. So if a team is looking for goal scoring, as well as the physical type of game that Cole can bring, they will be targeting the Oswego, New York native.
Several general managers have promised their respective fanbases that they will be dipping into the free agent pool this summer. Buffalo, Ottawa, and Toronto could all be potential suitors.
So what kind of money might Cole get? Certainly more than the $3,000,000 he made last season. At age 32, Cole will also most likely be looking for a long term deal, (three years or more).
What should the Hurricanes offer? Jim Rutherford has already gone on record saying that he wanted to re-sign the hometown favorite, but how far should he go?
Let's take a look at some of the signings from last summer which might be used as comps:
- Matt Cullen, Wild - 3 years, $10.5 million - (16 goals and 48 points in 2009-2010)
- Matthew Lombardi, Preds - 3 years $10.5 million - (19 goals and 53 points in 2009-10)
- Alex Ponikarovski, Kings - 1 year $3.2 million - (21 goals and 50 points in 2009-10)
- Alex Frolov, Rangers - 1 year $3 million - (19 goals and 51 points in 2009-10)
- Colby Armstrong, Leafs - 3 years $9 million (15 goals and 29 points in 2009-10)
Cole's agent could look at any of those signings and make an argument that his client deserves more.
The good news for Rutherford is that Cole likes it here, he has family in the area, and has close friends on the team. But this is business and it would be surprising if the power forward did not test the market, just to see what kind of numbers are out there.
If you were Jim Rutherford, what kind of deal would you offer him? Interesting days are ahead.