Olli Jokinen leads the Flames' 2012 class of UFAs.
With free agency just around the corner, now is probably a good time to take a look at some of the players who may no longer be with us as of Sunday, and get a feel for some of their possible replacements, starting with the forwards.
Centres (Olli Jokinen)
I've never been a big fan of Jokinen on the Flames, and I think that has coloured my perception of him even though he performed better (23 goals and 61 points in 82 games) on his more recent, cheaper deal which expires this Sunday. As such, I haven't been a big proponent of bringing Jokinen back for another go-around, and that hasn't changed in the post-season. Make all the arguments you will about the revolving door at #1C and how Jarome Iginla needs a skilled centre--but we all probably know by now that that's not and never has been Jokinen, and honestly I really don't know if any of that even matters at this point in Iginla's career.
The problem is that the market for UFA centres is not at its best, and Jokinen is actually the best player of the bunch in terms of PPG last season (as per Cap Geek), but nonetheless, there are some decent names in the mix. Jay McClement and Jochen Hecht are two that jump out to me, and the 29-year-old McClement had a palatable cap hit of just $1.45M least season with the Avs and has historically had very good underlying numbers. If the Flames are going to for a vet, Daymond Langkow is also available (wink, wink...nudge, nudge).
Of the Flames' three free-agent wingers, I am only particularly invested in seeing two of them return to the team next season in Moss and Stempniak--and even then, there are some issues involved (Moss' injury history, for example). It's difficult to judge Stempniak on a season where he also missed 21 games due to injury, and for $1.9M, he was probably only slightly overpayed for the 14 goals and 28 points he brought to the team. He had good underlying numbers in the first half of the season (if I recall) and much of his production came along with that, but he then fell off to the point where he was barely noticeable in some games, which may have been due to residual injury issues, circumstances, or bad luck.
I've always been a big fan of David Moss and while I would love for the bad-luck stricken forward to stick around and have a potential bounce-back season with the Flames, there is something to be said for getting value for your money, and even though Moss makes comparatively little of it and does a lot of things right for the team when he does play, him sitting on LTIR for over half the season is likely starting to get tiresome for fans, management, and the coaching staff--nevermind Moss himself. Maybe a change of scenery would do him some good.
I'm neither here nor there on Kostopoulos; he is replaceable and has been expectedly mediocre but durable since joining the Flames, and encountered some bad luck last season with a lower than average shooting percentage. I'm in absolutely no rush to see Ivanans, who played 27 games with the Abbotsford Heat this past season, play another game in the NHL again.
Some wingers on the FA market that have jumped out to thus far include: Andrei Kostitsyn, Brad Boyes, Mikael Samuelsson, former Red Wing Jiri Hudler, P.A. Parenteau, Fabian Brunnstrom (remember what a big deal he was once? He's still only 27 and made just $600K last season), Mike Knuble--and of course former Flames Kristian Huselius, Niklas Hagman, Ales Kotalik (groan), and Brandon Prust, just to name a few.
Are there any UFAs you'd like to see the Flames pursue this weekend?