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NHL free agency: 4 players who could be on the move

Monday, June 29, 2015 8:35:14 PM America/Los_Angeles

Plenty of moves will happen when the NHL's free-agent signing period opens on July 1, but it's a considerably weaker class this summer, fronted by forwards Matt Beleskey and Justin Williams.
The Nashville Predators and Colorado Avalanche made sure a pair of potential unrestricted free agents didn't make it to the open market with the signings of Mike Fisher and the newly acquired Carl Soderberg, respectively, last week. Later, the Minnesota Wild inked goalie Devan Dubnyk to a six-year deal.

On Monday, Dallas signed goalie Antti Niemi, whose rights they had acquired from San Jose, to a three-year deal.

Below, we profile five pending UFAs that could be available starting on Canada Day:

Matt Beleskey, LW (2014-15 salary cap hit: $1.35 million US)

He'll head to free agency after rejecting Anaheim's latest offer. The 27-year-old could be a late-blooming scorer after notching a career-high 22 goals this past season while spending part of the campaign on the Ducks' top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Beleskey's previous high was 11 in his first full season in 2009-10. He ranked third in the NHL with eight game-winning goals and added eight goals in the playoffs, including three on the power play. A native of Windsor, Ont., Beleskey has spent his entire career with Anaheim, which drafted him in the fourth round (112th overall) in 2006.


Mike Ribeiro, C (2014-15 salary cap hit: $1.05 million)

At 35, the Montreal native would be a good addition to a team needing scoring depth. Ribeiro is coming off one of his more productive seasons in recent years, scoring 15 goals and a team-high 47 assists for Nashville while adding five points in six contests in the post-season. A slick playmaker, he is also durable, having played at least 79 games in four of the past seven years. Ribeiro was a steal at $1.05 million US in 2014-15 but could be seeking a big raise. He might also be a distraction as he is still facing sex assault charges, with a discovery hearing scheduled for July 27.

Justin Williams, RW (salary cap hit: $3.65 million)

If you're looking for Stanley Cup experience and a playoff stalwart, the 14-year NHL veteran is your guy. He will probably be seeking at least $4 million per season after winning a Cup with Carolina in 2006 and two with the Los Angeles Kings in 2012 and 2014. A solid two-way player, the 35-year-old Williams had 18 goals, 41 points and a plus-8 rating this past season. Last spring, he was named playoff MVP after posting 25 points in 26 games, and his seven Game 7 goals are tied with Glenn Anderson for the all-time NHL record.


Mike Green, D (2014-15 salary cap hit: $6.083 million)

He's seemingly been around forever, but Green is only 29. A right-handed shot with a booming slapshot, he will be attractive to teams on the free market. While some aren't enamoured with his defensive play (Green was a plus-15 this past season), he can ignite a team's power play. A former 30-goal scorer, the Calgary native had 10 goals and 45 points this season, his most productive campaign since 2010 (76 points). With a salary cap hit of $6.083 million in 2014-15, Green might have to take a pay cut to play for a Stanley Cup contender.

Honourable mention

Martin St. Louis, RW (2014-15 salary cap hit: $5.625 million)

Cody Franson, D (2014-15 salary cap hit: $3.3 million)

Antoine Vermette, C (2014-14 salary cap hit: $3.75 million)

Posted in Nhl By

Doug