After seeing Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli sign veteran winger and Corsi darling Jussi Jokinen to a one-year, $1.1 million deal (a smart move, mind you), it appears that anything is possible and miracles do come true.
Like Jokinen until just recently, there are many productive forwards still gathering dust on the free agent list. With modest cap space still left, there’s no reason George McPhee couldn’t strike a deal to bolster the Golden Knights offense in the coming weeks.
And as long as we’re staying on brand, here are five forwards the Golden Knights could roll the dice on.
What do you make of a guy like Vanek? He scores like a first-liner, has the possession numbers of a fourth-liner and gets the ice time of a third-liner. It’s difficult to figure out what he would command on the open market. Most recently, he served as an underwhelming trade deadline acquisition for the Panthers and given that he will turn 34 this coming January, it is unlikely he will get much in the way of term or salary. With a career points per game figure higher than Phil Kessel, Joe Pavelski, Rick Nash and James Neal, isn't he someone that should have found a home by now?
Salary projection: One year, $2.25 million.
All the dude does is put up points and rack up jerseys for his man cave, having now played with eight NHL teams in nine years. In addition, Parenteau has been a positive relative possession player every year in the league and yet he was scratched in the Stanley Cup Final for the likes of Cody McLeod and Harry Zolnierczyk. Go figure. Like Vanek, he is certainly not a young man (turns 35 in March), but he could certainly help the Knights make some noise this season on the third- or fourth-line.
Salary projection: One year, $1.1 million.
Chiasson Derulo! The ex-Flames winger was my pick for the Knights in the expansion draft, however they opted to go with local favorite Deryk Engelland. They can now take my advice once again, as he was non-tendered by Calgary and is now an unrestricted free agent. Unlike the prior two players, Chiasson will turn 27 years old on opening night. His shot suppression skills are excellent, and he managed to have a higher even-strength goals per 60 minutes than Johnny Gaudreau last year.
Salary projection: Two years, $1.75 million AAV.
Hudler was anything but a star in Dallas. Hampered by injuries, the veteran winger and one-time Lady Byng winner limped to 11 points in 32 games last season. Perhaps as a result of his ailments, the 33-year-old avoided contact like no other, throwing just nine hits and blocking only three shots in the 2016-17 campaign. This could be the prime time for a show-me contract for a player whose perceived value is far lower than his actual value, as evidenced by his elite even-strength production over the past three seasons.
Salary projection: One year, $900K.
Winnik’s biggest claim to fame at this point may be that he is one of the few NHLers remaining who does not wear a visor. However, for a player who can play center and wing, help out on the penalty kill and suppress shots at a strong rate, he somehow remains unattached. Despite playing with third-liners for the bulk of his past three years, his teams score at a much higher rate at even-strength when he is on the ice than when he’s riding the pine (check out this excellent graphic from Micah Blake McCurdy). And perhaps it's for the best that the Knights are unlikely to make the playoffs this year, as Winnik has tallied just three points (all assists) in 58 career playoff games.
Salary projection: Two years, $1.6 million AAV.
Oh, and Jagr. Sign him, George.