Unrestricted Free Agents: The Northwest Division

March 20 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche right wing David Jones (54) looks for a puck to tip in past Calgary Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff (34) during the second period of the game at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE

We're getting close to the end, next up is the UFA's from the Northwest Division. The Northwest Division was the only division to send only 1 team to the Playoffs this past season. The Canucks have been the class of the division over the past couple of seasons, but the Oilers & Avs are young teams that look like they are on their way up. The Northwest has a pretty big number of UFA's, but the quality players (top 6 & top 4) are few and far between. The majority of the available UFA's from this division will only see very limited NHL time or maybe not at all. You always have to look out for the Canucks as they seem willing to spend cash during the free agent frenzy. But you can't be too sure of the Flames & Wild, they could be players or they might go the trade route. The Avs are in a very interesting situation this summer with almost 2/3rds of their NHL roster in some form of free agency. They are either going to have quite a turnover or their salary cap number is going to be higher next season. Edmonton will probably be looking for 2 positions, but they will probably be more in the trade route than the free agent market.

Here it is again, here is what I have done. I broke down the UFA's by team with a small blurb on each player. If the UFA played in less than 20 games in 2011/2012, I simply listed them without a blurb. Again, there are not a lot of "quality" players here, but you never know if you could find a diamond in the rough. So take a look and let me know your thoughts on these potential free agents and whether you believe any could help the Canes out next season. I will have the last division, the Pacific Divison, and a brief overall summary up by the end of the week.

Vancouver Canucks

Samuel Pahlsson - C - Pahlsson is a very good checking center. He's not going to provide much offense at all, but he'll win faceoffs and play against the opposing team's top line. If the Canes are looking at moving Sutter up to a 2nd line role, then Pahlsson could be an option.

Aaron Volpatti - LW - Volpatti is sort of a rough-&-tumble 4th liner. He'll throw some hits, but he's not particularly well at offense or defense. He's a role player that has a very limited role, the sort of guy that probably won't be in the NHL very long.

Sami Salo - D - Salo was a good all-around defenseman. The problem is that he hasn't played in 70 games in any season since before the lockout and at his age, its only going to get worse. He has nice size, but doesn't use it. He has a big shot, but he can't use it while getting patched up. I don't think he is a viable option.

Aaron Rome - D - Rome is a depth defenseman that plays very rugged. He's not overly big, but he's willing to give you everything he's got. He is known for making some bad decisions and experiences a lot of little injuries due to his reckless style of play. He would be a bad 7th defenseman, but I'm not sure he would work for us.

Players with less than 20 games this past season - Bryon Bitz RW, Andrew Ebbett C/LW, Steven Reinprecht C/LW, Steve Pinizzotto RW, Mark Mancari RW, Matt Climie G, Nolan Baumgartner D

Calgary Flames

Olli Jokinen - C - Olli had a decent season last year, but he has really been inconsistent the past couple of years. He was a 30 goal guy, but those days seems to have passed him. He's probably still a good 2nd line center, 50+ points, but I think there would be a revolt if JR were to sign him.

Lee Stempniak - RW - Stempniak is an interesting case. He's not really offensively skilled enough to be a 2nd liner, but he also ins't physical enough to be a 3rd liner. He will put up decent numbers and can contribute on the PP, but its tough finding him a slot to play in. He might be a good "project" if we could get him for the right price, but I can't see it happening.

David Moss - RW/C - Moss is another interesting case. He's a guy with some size and has a little bit of scoring potential. The problem is that he consistently gets little injuries and he is not consistent. He will park himself in front of the net, but he is one of those guys that could work for the right price.

Tom Kostopoulos - RW/LW - We obviously have experience with TK and he would be a nice (re)addition to the 4th line. He is defensively responsible, can contribute on the PK, and provides some energy even at his age. If the Canes are looking at redoing the 4th line, he would be a good add that would also provide some veteran leadership.

Cory Sarich - D - Sarich is a Bryan Allen type of player. He's a physical stay-at-home defenseman, but isn't the best skater and won't provide much offense. He throws a bunch of hits and will block at fair number of shots. If the Canes lose Allen and are looking to replace him with a similar player, Sarich could be an answer.

Scott Hannan - D - Hannan is a good defensive defenseman with a little age on him. He's not much of an offensive impact, but that's just not his style. He is solidly built, but doesn't do much in the hitting department. He will block a good number of shots and plays a steady overall game. He's a good depth defenseman at this point in his career, but I'm not sure he's what the Canes would be looking for.

Players with less than 20 games this past season - Jordan Henry D, Brian Connelly D, Pierre-Luc Letourneau-LeBlond LW/RW, Guillaume Desbriens RW/LW, Stefan Meyer LW/RW

Colorado Avalanche

David Jones - RW/LW - Jones is one of the more interesting forward options in this division. He has good size, can score some goals, and plays a solid overall game. He doesn't really use his size to its potential and he is very inconsistent. He goes from being very good to almost invisible. And while he plays a solid game, he's not someone that will really shutdown opposing players. He's probably a fringe top 6 player and could help out if he isn't too expensive.

Jay McClement - C - McClement is a solid bottom 6 center. He's ok defensively and is a pretty good faceoff man, but that's mostly it. He would probably be a good 4th line center that could fill in on the 3rd line on occasions. I don't really see much need for him on this team right now.

Cody McLeod - LW/RW - He's a hard working, physical forward. He can chip in a few goals, but is really just an energy guy. He's not very good defensively, but he will lay the lumber. If the Canes wanted a physical presence on the 4th line, he would be an option. But again, he's not really going to provide a whole lot and doesn't work on the PK.

Matt Hunwick - D - Hunwick is a depth defenseman only. He is on the smaller size and can provide a little offense. He also struggles against bigger forwards and is not really sound defensively. He is a 7th defenseman at his ceiling and someone the Canes should easily pass on.

Shane O'Brien - D - O'Brien is a nice sized defensive defenseman. He plays a physical game and is willing to drop the gloves. He has generally been a plus player, but would need to be paired with a faster guy. His skating is suspect. Given last year's contract, he should be somewhat affordable. I don't think he is a 1st option, but could definitely be a nice add if the Canes are looking for a physical defenseman.

David Van Der Gulk - W/C - Van Der Gulk is an AHLer that can be called up on occasion. He's not going to produce much offensively, but he's not going to hurt the team defensively either. He's more of a wing than center and doesn't really own the size to make him very effective in the NHL.

Players with less than 20 games this past season - Ryan Stoa LW/C, Cedrick Desjardins G, Joakim Lindstrom LW/RW, Justin Mercier C/LW, Evan Brophey C, David Liffiton D, Greg Mauldin RW/C, Danny Richmond D, Patrick Rissmiller LW

Minnesota Wild

Erik Christensen - C/LW - Christensen is an extremely inconsistent forward. At times he looks like a capable bottom 6 forward. At other times he looks like he doesn't belong in the NHL. He average size, is a good faceoff man, and has offensive abilities. But he isn't really good defensively, gets pushed around a lot, and is invisible a lot. I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up in the KHL next season or spends the majority of the year in the AHL.

Jed Ortmeyer - RW/LW - He's a fringe NHLer. He doesn't provide hardly any goal scoring or offense. He can play on the PK, but isn't really a defensive player either. Really not much to say about this guy and not really someone the Canes need at all.

Warren Peters - C/LW - Peters is another 4th line energy guy that displays a little grit and is willing to drop the gloves. He's not strong offensively or defensively and is not the best of skaters. Other than his grit, he doesn't really offer anything. I would say no to any offer to him and think he won't be getting much interest throughout the league.

Stephane Veilleux - LW/RW - Veilleux has a little bit of game, but not much. He's got some speed and energy. He can play on the PK, but isn't very good defensively. He gets pushed around a little even though he is of average size. He might be an interesting sign on a two-way contract, but no one that would get anything more than a league minimum deal.

Matt Kassian - LW - Kassian is a huge, young forward that can through his weight around. Given his very limited TOI, he threw a good number of hits. He doesn't have much offensive skills at all and isn't a very good defender either. But he is only 25 and is a beast of a man. He might not be bad as a 13th forward or a guy on a two-way contract. He could be put in the lineup against some physical teams, but he's a minimum contract guy.

Kurtis Foster - D - Foster saw 3 teams last season and might be looking at his 7th team in 5 seasons (not including 2 AHL teams). He's a big defender that is almost strictly offensive. He has a good point shot and can rack up some points, but is bad in his own zone. He doesn't use his size at all and makes a lot of mistakes. He's definitely not the type of defenseman the Canes could use.

Josh Harding - G - Harding is a good backup goalie that might can find himself a shared starting job somewhere. He's still only 27 years old and has a good save percentage, but he's not so good in the win/loss column. I wouldn't mind him as a backup to Cam, but I think he's looking & will get a better opportunity elsewhere.

Players with less than 20 games this past season - Mike Lundin D, Jeff Taffe LW/C, Jon Disalvatore RW, Jeff Penner D

Edmonton Oilers

Ryan Smyth - LW - Smyth is an aging winger that can still produce points and plays with a lot of heart. Even though he is getting up there in age, he is still producing relatively well. He's not overly big, but is willing to do the dirty work. He has a history of injuries, so you have to be worried about this. Edmonton has offered him a contract, but he might want more than what they are offering.

Lennart Petrell - W/C - Petrell is a defensive, 4th line forward. He is pretty responsible and has some nice size. He's also from Finland, so he would have some countrymen on his team if he joined the Canes. He doesn't provide much offense and is never really going to be more than a 4th liner. He could probably be had for pretty cheap, but he's not going to be much of a difference maker.

Darcy Hordichuk - LW - Hordichuk is an enforcer plain & simple. He will give it all he's got, but he doesn't produce much. He's not oversized, but he throw his body around. The Canes tried to acquire Hordichuk a couple seasons ago, but it didn't work out. I really don't see it working out this time around either and that's probably for the best for the Canes.

Players with less than 20 games this past season - Taylor Chorney D, Yann Danis G, Ryan Keller RW, Josh Green LW, Bryan Rodney D

So do any of these players interest you? Do you believe any of them could help make the Hurricanes a better team in 2013? Which ones would you go after on July 1st? Let me know what you think. Up next: The Pacific Division + Overall UFA Summay.

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