2018 NHL Free Agency Preview: Left Wings

Updated: June 26, 2018 at 10:25 am by Brock Seguin

The NHL Free Agency period opens on Sunday, July 1st and there are a number of big fish on the market. 

Over the course of the week, I will be previewing the top names at each position. Included in each report is the player’s Corsica Player Rating, their Positional Ranking and their Predicted Contract from Matt Cane at HockeyGraphs. 

We also have a free agency big board, where all of the top UFA’s are ranked and I will be updating as they sign their new contracts. 

James van Riemsdyk 

Age: 29
Corsica Player Rating: 78.12
Positional Ranking: #13 LW
Projected Contract: 3 Years x $5.355M AAV ($16.065M)

van Riemsdyk has been one of the most underrated performers in the NHL over the last five years. Outside of 2016, he’s been extremely durable, missing just three games in the other four seasons. During that five-year span, van Riemsdyk has averaged 31 goals and 28 assists (59 points) per 82 games—overall his 136 goals is tied with Patrice Bergeron for 19th in the NHL during that time. 

As talented as he is offensively, JVR is one-dimensional and struggles on the defensive side of the puck. However, there are few players in the NHL with as good of hands in-tight and he thrives on the power-play. van Riemsdyk is tied for 19th in the league in power-play goals (40) over the last five years and is drawing a ton of interest in free agency.  

It seems unlikely that the Maple Leafs will bring him back. They need cap-space to sign restricted free agent William Nylander this summer and both Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner next year. In addition, Andreas Johnsson was the AHL playoffs MVP and is ready to replace JVR next season.

Patrick Maroon

Age: 30
Corsica Player Rating: 72.84
Positional Ranking: #58 LW
Projected Contract: 4 Years x $5.289M AAV ($21.156M)

Maroon enjoyed a breakout campaign while playing with Connor McDavid in 2017 but failed to replicate those numbers in 2018. Maroon had 30 points (14G / 16A) in 57 games in Edmonton before being traded to New Jersey, where he had three goals and 10 assists in 17 games. 

Both the Devils and Oilers are expected to have interest in bringing Maroon back. According to The Athetic’s Corey Masisak, Maroon’s camp is hopeful for an offer from New Jersey before July 1st. 

Maroon brings size (6-foot-3, 225 lbs), physicality (min.150 hits in the last three years) and offence to any team’s second or third lines. His CorsiFor% numbers in Edmonton are a bit skewed from playing with McDavid, but had a +4.2 relative Corsi in his brief time in New Jersey. With a limited number of good free agent left wingers, Maroon will likely get a big pay increase from the $2.0M AAV he was making in his last contract. 

David Perron

Age: 30
Corsica Player Rating: 72.57
Positional Ranking: #59 LW
Projected Contract: 4 Years x $6.684M AAV ($26.736M)

Despite posting a career-high in assists (50) and points (66) in 70 games with the Golden Knights last season, Perron will not return to Vegas.

The gritty playmaker will have suitors in need of a right-handed shot—van Riemsdyk, Maroon, Rick Nash, James Neal and Michael Grabner are the other top free agent wingers and all of them are left-hand shots. 

Perron will likely have a difficult time re-creating what he did in a dream season in Vegas, but he has consistently approached 20 goals and is obviously capable of racking up a big number of helpers. 

Matt Calvert

Age: 28
Corsica Player Rating: 71.00
Positional Ranking: #89 LW
Projected Contract: 2 Years x $1.544M AAV ($3.088M)

Calvert brings a lot of hockey sense, offence and hard work to a team’s bottom-6. The 28-year-old has quietly averaged 13 goals and 15 assists per 82-games over the last five seasons but played in just 64 games per year. 

Calvert is a reliable two-way winger and the Blue Jackets leaned heavily on him in their own-zone—starting him in the D-zone 60.2 percent of the time. He also ranked second among Blue Jackets’ forwards in shorthanded TOI/GM (1:32) 

Antoine Roussel

Age: 30
Corsica Player Rating: 70.79
Positional Ranking: #96 LW
Projected Contract: 4 Years x $2.457M AAV ($9.828M)

Roussel is an in-your-face winger that has averaged 1.53 hits/game over his 413 game career. Prior to last season, he was a consistent double-digit goal/assist producer and brings an agitating style of play to whoever he signs with. 

Despite starting in the defensive zone 58 percent of the time over the last two seasons, Roussel had a 53.4 CF% with a positive relative Corsi on both occasions. Roussel is also a capable penalty killer. 

Teams in need of a bottom-6 winger will likely be drawn to Roussel and there have been some links between him and the Montreal Canadiens. 

Antoine Roussel, David Perron, James Van Riemsdyk, Matt Calvert, nhl free agents, Patrick Maroon