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Los Angeles Kings left wing Dustin Penner celebrates his game winning overtime goal against the Phoenix Coyotes during Game 5 of the NHL Western Conference hockey finals in Glendale, Arizona, May 22, 2012. REUTERS/Todd Korol (Todd Korol/Reuters)
Los Angeles Kings left wing Dustin Penner celebrates his game winning overtime goal against the Phoenix Coyotes during Game 5 of the NHL Western Conference hockey finals in Glendale, Arizona, May 22, 2012. REUTERS/Todd Korol (Todd Korol/Reuters)

The NHL’s top unrestricted free agents: The forwards Add to ...

Teams in need of high end scoring talent are going to be in tough this year in free agency.

There’s not one high end centre available and the top wingers like Zach Parise, Alex Semin and Jaromir Jagr could be paid a fortune if Dennis Wideman’s contract on Wednesday is any indication.

There are only 13 forwards who had more than 36 points last year that are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents at noon on Sunday, and some of those are the likes of Teemu Selanne and Shane Doan who are likely to stay with their long-time teams to finish their careers.

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In that group of 13, seven are 35 or older, meaning a multiyear deal signed under the current collective bargaining agreement is a huge risk. (Players who get contracts of more than one year beyond age 35 will count against the cap even if they choose to retire.)

The only scoring types in their 20s available are Parise, PA Parenteau, Semin, Jiri Hudler and Kyle Wellwood.

With all that in mind, there are some useful third and fourth liners in the bunch, players I’ve tried to highlight in this list of the top 55 forwards likely to be available.

The statistics here are for the last three seasons combined, with ice time an average of minutes per game between 2009-10 and last season:

Rank

Name

Team

GP

Ice time

Points

1

Zach Parise

NJ

176

20.6

157

2

Shane Doan

PHX

233

19.4

165

3

Teemu Selanne

ANA

209

17.8

194

4

Ray Whitney

PHX

237

18.3

192

5

Alex Semin

WAS

215

18.0

192

6

PA Parenteau

NYI

183

17.9

128

7

Jaromir Jagr

PHI

73

16.3

54

8

Olli Jokinen

CGY

243

18.2

165

9

Dustin Penner

LA

228

17.1

126

10

Ryan Smyth

EDM

231

18.9

146

11

Jiri Hudler

DET

154

14.7

87

12

Steve Sullivan

PIT

205

16.5

121

13

Andrei Kostitsyn

NSH

212

15.7

114

14

Paul Gaustad

NSH

216

15.2

74

15

Peter Mueller

COL

101

14.2

53

16

Petr Sykora

NJ

96

15.3

47

17

Jason Arnott

STL

208

16.0

111

18

Jamie Langenbrunner

STL

221

17.3

117

19

Jochen Hecht

BUF

168

17.1

79

20

G. Latendresse

MIN

105

14.8

55

21

Alexei Ponikarovsky

NJ

220

14.8

98

22

Lee Stempniak

CGY

223

16.3

114

23

Mikael Samuelsson

FLA

203

16.7

134

24

Daniel Winnik

SJ

238

15.5

68

25

Travis Moen

MON

208

14.5

51

26

Ruslan Fedotenko

NYR

219

14.4

75

27

Kyle Wellwood

WIN

187

14.3

85

28

Kristian Huselius

CBJ

115

17.7

86

29

David Moss

CGY

154

13.8

56

30

Jordin Tootoo

NSH

182

12.1

64

31

Brad Boyes

BUF

230

15.8

120

32

Joey Crabb

TOR

115

13.3

41

33

Jay McClement

COL

242

15.7

66

34

Taylor Pyatt

PHX

223

13.8

73

35

Torrey Mitchell

SJ

198

12.5

53

36

Daymond Langkow

PHX

149

17.3

68

37

Brian Rolston

BOS

215

16.3

95

38

Andrew Brunette

CHI

242

15.8

134

39

Niklas Hagman

ANA

224

14.8

94

40

Dominic Moore

SJ

225

15.3

85

41

Tanner Glass

WIN

218

11.0

37

42

Brandon Prust

NYR

233

11.3

60

43

Gilbert Brule

PHX

139

13.5

60

44

Brendan Morrison

CHI

179

15.6

96

45

Adam Burish

DAL

141

13.1

37

46

Tim Stapleton

WIN

114

10.6

36

47

Radek Dvorak

DAL

215

15.9

75

48

Jeff Halpern

WAS

212

13.3

61

49

Steve Bernier

NJ

159

13.2

43

50

Eric Fehr

WIN

156

11.7

62

51

John Mitchell

NYR

146

12.9

42

52

Tom Kostopolous

CGY

239

12.4

51

53

Arron Asham

PIT

180

9.7

51

54

Marco Sturm

FLA

159

14.9

58

55

Scott Parse

LA

73

10.9

30

 

Who are some of the potentially hidden gems in there? Well Parenteau is an interesting name given how well he played for the Islanders the past two years, putting up 67 points last season to finish tied for 26th in NHL scoring with players like Jarome Iginla and Tyler Seguin.

Or how about Dustin Penner, who had an awful regular season but was exellent in the playoffs. What do you pay him as he comes off a huge $4.25-million a year deal that was the result of a contentious offer sheet all those years ago?

Then there are players who have battled very serious injuries the past few years who could rebound: Mueller, Latendresse, Huselius, Fehr and Parse.

A few of the checker types will probably cash in, too. Gaustad is one name that is likely to be well salaried for what he brings, but teams are going to want Moen, Tootoo, Prust, Glass and others who bring toughness above all else.

UPDATE Players who are crossed off have signed.

Follow on Twitter: @mirtle

 

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