When teams needed to send out qualifying offers to their restricted free agents in order to retain their rights, there were a lot of players who became unrestricted free agents. Most of those players, like Edmonton's Cam Barker, shouldn't be of interest to anyone when it comes to NHL employment at the start of the 2012-13 season. But there are always a few surprises too, players that you might not expect to have a chance at acquiring for free.
There are always reasons that these guys become available, but the fact that these players are almost universally seen as risky around the league also means that they might be great candidates to outperform their next contract. After the jump, I'll take a lookd at four RFAs-cum-UFAs who might be a good fit with the Oilers.
Eric Fehr - Fehr had shoulder surgery in May of 2011, which meant a late start to his 2011-12 season. When he got back and started playing, he didn't play very well scoring just three points in thirty-five games. That said, Fehr was very capable in a depth role with the Capitals in previous seasons, and if he's looking for a place to get his career back on track, the Oilers could be a great place to do that. The Oilers want to add size to the lineup, and at 6'4'' and 210+ lbs., Fehr certainly fulfills that requirement in addition to being able to actually play hockey. He's a guy that I would project to start on the fourth line, but who could move up the lineup if needed. Target Range - $600,000 to $1,000,000 on a one-year deal.
Marc-Andre Gragnani - Before getting traded to the Canucks, Marc-Andre Gragnani had both the best PDO number and the best Corsi numbers of anyone on the Sabres. I realize that the Oilers don't need another bottom-pairing defender, but Gragnani's got decent size (he's 6'2''), has been competent at the NHL level, and has been excellent on the power play at the AHL level. He's also just twenty-five years old, and should be relatively cheap. If the Oilers swing and miss with Justin Schultz, Gragnani would be a good fallback option. Target Range - $600,000 to $1,000,000 on a two or three-year deal.
Guillaume Latendresse - He's only available because of his concussion history. We're talking about a player with good size and good speed who has scored fifteen or more goals three times and is just twenty-five. But yeah... he missed the last two seasons because of injuries, and never returned from a concussion he suffered last season. Still, he fits the "more size" mandate perfectly, and could be a tremendous addition to this team if healthy. He seems to think that he's mostly healthy now. My view would be that it makes sense to add Latendresse as a long-term addition with no expectations for this year (if he needs the whole season off to properly recover, so be it), thinking that he might be a bargain for you down the line. If Latendresse wants the certainty, maybe he goes for it. If it doesn't work out, the money is small enough that he can be pretty easily buried in the minors. Target Range - 1,250,000 to $1,750,000 on a four-year deal.
Wojtek Wolski - There have always been questions about work ethic, which might serve to dissuade the Oilers, but Wolski is a wonderful talent whose style of play is similar to Ales Hemsky in that he loves to carry the puck and find a sniper for an open shot. Wolski has played both center and wing, and has done well against tough competition in the past. He missed a large part of last season with injury and was much less effective than usual when he was playing, but in previous seasons, Wolski has been a solid contributor. If the Oilers did pick up Wolski, it would free them up to move another player for help on the back end. Target Range - $2,750,000 to $3,250,000 on a two or three-year deal.