It's no secret the Calgary Flames are short on the right side. Down the middle things are looking incredibly deep, and the left side isn't looking too shabby, either. But with David Jones the only listed right winger on the roster, the right is barren, and in need of upgrade.
That's where free agency comes into play, and there are certainly options available. Potential targets include 27-year-old Michael Frolik, who is coming off a one-year, $3.3 million contract; 32-year-old P.A. Parenteau, who has just been bought out of his four-year, $4 million AAV contract; 34-year-old Justin Williams, whose four-year, $3.65 million AAV contract is expiring; and 31-year-old Alexander Semin, who is just being bought out two years into a five-year, $7 million AAV contract.
His 9.2 shooting percentage was a bit high considering his career average of 7.7%, but he took 206 shots over the year, showing that if anything, he has the puck on his stick, and he'll create offence.
Frolik averaged 17:30 for the Jets last season, scoring 19 goals and 23 assists, good for sixth on his team. He received moderate zone starts, and posted a 55.15% CF rating: second best out of all regular Jets players.
To put it point blank, Frolik played well in a top six role, and was a useful player for the Jets.
As long as Frolik isn't completely buried in the defensive zone, as happened to him with the Hawks, he'll drive the puck up the ice. His 2014-15 season saw him face the easiest zone starts of his career, but he can handle tougher roles just as well: just look at his 2013-14 year, where he performed just as well with the same team, but in slightly tougher circumstances.
Really, his 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons - his only full years with the Hawks - are the only anomalies of his career. They're the only times he was used in a major defensive role, playing significantly less and scoring fewer points. To counter that, Frolik has five full seasons proving he'll score around 40 points, and he'll drive the play along the while.
Ultimately, Frolik is capable of playing in a defensive role, but he stands out in a positive way when relied on to create offence.
Is he a fit?
Yes. God, yes. Frolik could very well be the Flames' number one free agency target. He's a positive possession right winger, which is exactly the kind of player the Flames need. And at 27 years old, he isn't too old to continue contributing for years to come.
The only thing is, of course, his upcoming contract. The Flames will have enough cap space to accommodate him, and with their reluctance to hand out long-term contracts, he shouldn't become a burden down the line.
Here's something to think about: after this upcoming season, Jiri Hudler will become a free agent. Considering the career year he just had, he'll likely be demanding a raise, and the Flames may not be able to afford to keep him. Frolik could be his replacement.
Hudler signed a four year deal worth an annual average value of $4 million when he was entering his 29-year-old season. If the Flames can get Frolik at similar value - especially cheaper, considering he hasn't scored as much as Hudler had at that time - it's a move they should absolutely make.
Parenteau's one season with the Habs saw him score just eight goals and 22 points over 56 games, good for 10th on his team. He averaged 14:59 in ice time, one of the lowest of his career, while shooting at just 8.2%: again, one of the lowest shooting percentages of his career.
In short, he had a bad year. He received some of the highest offensive zone starts in Montreal, but only posted a 50.56% CF: still a positive impact, but at seventh out of all regulars, not good enough to justify his starts.
Parenteau was originally signed as an unrestricted free agent by the Colorado Avalanche, but halfway through his contract, he was traded for Daniel Briere. With the Avs, he scored 32 goals and 76 points over 103 games.
Via War on Ice, here is how Parenteau has performed throughout his career with the Rangers, Islanders, Avalanche, and Canadiens (excluding his five games with the Blackhawks, long before he became a regular NHLer):
Parenteau has been a positive possession player throughout his career, albeit he's not used to defensive zone starts at all. He can still perform well when starting in a more neutral position - see his 2013-14 year with the Avs - but overall, he does need to be sheltered to some extent.
That said, he won't really hurt your team, and based on most of his career, he'll create offence.
Is he a fit?
He does know how to put the puck in the net, and he would help create offence for the Flames down the right side. However, his past few years - resulting in trade and then buyout - does give reason to pause. His overall numbers seem okay, so what's the problem?
At 32, Parenteau may be on the decline. Chances are with his $16 million deal he was just bought out of, he's already received his payday, and is now looking to be more of a reclamation project.
Which brings us to the Flames. He shouldn't command a term contract, and he definitely won't command a $4 million salary. He fills a position of need, and he's a positive possession player: an area the Flames need to improve in.
Parenteau isn't a long-term fix, but he could be a gap player to help the Flames in the short term; especially until someone else who plays the right wing - say, Emile Poirier - is ready for the NHL. In the meantime, Parenteau could help keep the Flames competitive while not costing too much. He isn't someone to go out and seek immediately, but that doesn't mean he shouldn't be kept in consideration.
Last season, Williams scored 18 goals and 41 points: a pretty good year for him, even with his 10.3 shooting percentage, higher than his career average of 9.3%. He was tied for sixth in scoring on the Kings despite averaging only 15:49 - the lowest he ever played with them.
Williams did not play in sheltered circumstances, and was an extremely positive possession player with a 57.29% CF: fifth out of every regular Kings player. Williams has been a strong possession player throughout his career, and doesn't seem to be showing any signs of slowing down.
He also so happens to be a three-time Stanley Cup champion, including winning the Conn Smythe in 2013-14. For a team with growing playoff aspirations, that kind of experience on the roster could prove valuable.
Williams has never been sheltered in his career. He's received moderate to difficult zone starts, and almost every time - excluding just his first years in the league - he's been a positive possession player, without fail. He's basically the epitome of helping drive the puck up the ice for his team.
No matter what position he's been placed in, or what team he's been on, Williams has been an asset. His big time scoring days are probably behind him, but he provides value on the defensive side of things. Williams on Mikael Backlund's wing could be part of a deadly shutdown line.
Is he a fit?
The only thing that really gives one pause in regards to signing Williams is his age. Even though he's been effective throughout his entire career, one does have to wonder just how much longer that will last. At the same time, as a positive possession right winger, Williams would fill a major need for the Flames.
The other concern is just how much Williams wants. The contract he is coming off of gave him the most expensive cap hit of his career; before that, he carried a $3.5 million cap hit for five years. Because this is likely Williams' last chance at a big contract, he would probably cost at least that much.
He's affordable to the Flames in that sense. This just draws us back to the big concern: as he nears the end of his career, will Williams be able to be the same player he's been throughout it? Probably, but it's no guarantee, and the last thing Calgary needs is to have their cap tied up in a declining asset. They may not even be properly competitive while he's still useful.
However, there's no doubt Williams would improve the Flames immensely, so he's certainly worth looking into.
Semin has spent the past three seasons in Carolina, where he put up 41 goals and 105 points over 166 games. That doesn't sound too bad, until you look at just his last season alone: six goals and 19 points over 57 games. His ice time dropped, too, as Semin went from averaging roughly 20-21 minutes a game down to just 15:55.
Simply put, that declining performance at that steep a price is too much for the Hurricanes, and so, Semin should be entering the UFA market prematurely as a buyout. His offensive production aside, though, he hasn't been all bad. While he did receive sheltered zone starts - which makes his point totals look all the worse - at least he put up a 55.89% CF rating along the way, good for third-best of all regular Canes players.
So no, Semin really didn't score enough to justify his cap hit. But did he hurt the Hurricanes on the ice in general? It would appear he did not.
His first season with the Hurricanes aside, Semin has consistently been an asset to his team while on the ice. He ensures the puck goes towards the opponent's net more often than towards his own, and if his scoring doesn't return, that's where he's going to be most valuable.
The caveat? Semin doesn't see the defensive zone. Like, at all. Throughout his entire career, he's been granted primarily offensive zone starts. That's all well and good - especially if he's scoring - but it does give him an advantage; one where you expect him to bring the puck up the ice, since he's already there to start.
Semin's all over the place in terms of the competition he faces, but his ice time has, for the most part, been steady, and we know he's a relative positive possession player who always plays in the offensive zone. For $7 million, that sounds like a lot. For his new contract, though?
Is he a fit?
He could be. Semin's already in his 30s, but as a consistent performer for the past 10 years, there isn't much reason to expect the play to suddenly start going against him. And as someone coming off of a big payday with his buyout, he may be willing to play for significantly less, similar to Brad Richards and Christian Ehrhoff this past season.
Semin's lack of ability in the defensive zone is a concern, but if you sign him for cheap, put him in your top six on the right side (which, again, is an area the Flames definitely need help in), and he returns to scoring, you'd probably look like a genius. This is where the gamble comes in: how much do the Flames value defensively responsibility, and how well are they willing to work with what may be a purely offensive player?
Someone else who had frequent offensive zone starts and wasn't exactly relied on to defend? Johnny Gaudreau. There's almost a decade of age difference between them, so they're at different points in their careers, but the Flames do already have a player that could work in purely offensive situations. Semin would add to do that - and his positive possession stats throughout his career help make the sell.