Here are the 10 best free agents aged 25

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Here are the 10 best free agents aged 25

PostitusPostitas loomin » Neljapäev Juun 29, 2017 11:04

NHL teams are going to the free agent market on July 1 with less money to spend and fewer top flight players to spend it on.

We might see something a little different this time around teams finding younger free agents who can be paid a reasonable amount and push for playing time. These are less plug and play options as opposed to additions who can help with the depth of the team and provide a good fit for a specific need.

For fans, that means two tiers of free agents to follow. Top players like Kevin Shattenkirk and Martin Hanzal are going to get paid big money and be off the free agent lists early on July 1. The secondary free agents normally start signing a few days into July, but it could be different this time.

Here are the 10 best free agents aged 25 and under for the 2017 free agent summer.

10. Alexander Burmistrov Jay Bouwmeester Jersey, C, Arizona Coyotes
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Mark J. Rebilas USA TODAY Sports
Alexander Burmistrov has wandered the NHL universe since being a first round pick in 2010 for the Atlanta Thrashers. He has also played for the Winnipeg Jets and Arizona Coyotes in the NHL and Ak Bars Kazan in the KHL.

This past season began in Winnipeg, as the Jets used him in a two way role. His playing time during 23 games earlier in the year was about 11 minutes, which is fourth line time.

After being acquired by the Coyotes, his playing time increased to 15 minutes, and Burmistrov scored five goals and 14 points in 26 games. That kind of production is more in line with expectations of him back on draft day seven years ago.

An NHL team signing Burmistrov may be looking for a depth forward with substantial offensive potential. Some teams run an energy fourth line, but the Pittsburgh Penguins had more skill on their depth lines and that could become a trend.

He ll be a later signing in free agency, but the Arizona success will have caught the eye of at least one general manager. If Burmistrov wants to play in the NHL next season, he will have the opportunity to do so.

9. Kenny Agostino, LW, St. Louis Blues
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Eric Hartline USA TODAY Sports
Kenny Agostino has played only 17 NHL games since turning pro in 2013 and his chances are probably running out.

What makes him an interesting free agent option is his impressive skill set. In the AHL this past season, he posted 83 points in 65 games, and he added three points in seven NHL games during the year.

The only thing Agostino hasn t been able to do is prove himself at the NHL level. Auditions for the Calgary Flames and the Blues have been productive but not overwhelming, so he remains on the outside knocking on the NHL door.

A team interested in Agostino probably has some question marks on left wing and may value his 6 2 , 202 pound frame. He is 25 and running out of time as a prospect, but that doesn t mean he won t deliver given the opportunity.

NHL teams will be auditioning players like Agostino all winter, and if he performs well, the long term deals and big money will come. He has the talent but will need a little luck to find the perfect fit.

8. Michael Sgarbossa, C, Florida Panthers
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Matt Kartozian USA TODAY Sports
Michael Sgarbossa reaches free agency after playing 48 games over four seasons with the Colorado Avalanche and the Florida Panthers.

His playmaking ability is obvious at the AHL level and has gotten him some NHL chances. Taking that next step probably relies on being in the right situation.

There are probably 50 or more AHL players who have a similar skill set. The difference between plying the trade in the minors and getting an NHL chance is razor thin and relies heavily on luck and timing. Sgarbossa has a nice range of skills and is a capable, if unspectacular, checker.

A team acquiring Sgarbossa will be looking for a value contract and a player who can add some offense at the end of the roster. He is responsible enough to be trusted by his coach and talented enough to deliver offense when given the opportunity.

7. Ty Rattie, RW, St. Louis Blues
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Jeff Roberson/Associated Press
Ty Rattie can score goals and has had a few NHL looks since turning pro in 2013. He scored 31 goals in his first AHL season, earning him a cup of coffee in the NHL. The following two seasons saw more minor league success and substantial NHL time, but he could not break through.

He played for both the St. Louis Blues and Carolina Hurricanes this season, but the Blues did not tender a qualifying offer. He reaches free agency with an offensive reputation, which may get him another NHL chance.

Rattie isn t a burner, but his speed is good enough to play in the NHL. He needs an ideal fit and that might be the Vegas Golden Knights or a similar team looking for inexpensive talent.

This summer might be his last chance to secure an open look at NHL employment—if it doesn t come, we may see him in Europe.

6. Beau Bennett, RW, New Jersey Devils
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Aaron Doster USA TODAY Sports
Beau Bennett is arriving at free agency at an opportune time.

His 2016 17 term with the New Jersey Devils saw him play in 65 games, the only season in five he s played more than 49 games. Bennett, a former first round pick by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2010, has endured injuries during the early portion of his career. Now fairly healthy, he is about to cash in during free agency.

Bennett plays a gritty style and has offensive talent, so his skills should be easily transported on to any team. He has a good shot, can play either wing and the play doesn t die on his stick due to good passing acumen. He scored 17 of his 19 points in 2016 17 at even strength, meaning his points total came the hard way.

Chances are he will have to wait through the first couple of days of free agency, as teams pursue more substantial and famous names. Once the first wave has been cleared, Bennett should find several NHL teams showing interest.

A healthy Bennett could help an NHL team, so he might be able to sign for far more than his 2016 17 salary of 725,000.

5. Nikita Nesterov, D, Montreal Canadiens
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Joel Auerbach/Associated Press
Nikita Nesterov is one of the most fascinating free agents available to NHL teams this season. He is an undersized skill defenseman who has shown flashes of quality while also having a difficult time establishing himself at the NHL level.

He divided his time between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens in 2016 17, posting good numbers and delivering well in possession, per The eye test is less encouraging, as he turns the puck over often and has trouble with the physical elements of the game.

Nesterov will get an NHL contract if he wants one, and there s a lot of good hockey ahead. An NHL team looking for a third pairing defender who can add some offense would do well to check on the Russian. He s unlikely to be this inexpensive on his next contract.
4. Tyler Pitlick, RW, Edmonton Oilers
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Perry Nelson USA TODAY Sports
Tyler Pitlick of the Edmonton Oilers was picked in the second round of the 2010 entry draft. He was touted as a good skater who could play a rugged style and score some goals.

Pitlick enjoyed a strong season after his draft with the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL and then turned pro in the fall of 2011.

Pitlick was eased into the lineup with the Oklahoma City Barons of the AHL, but his offense wasn t enough for him to get an NHL call. This was followed by several injury riddled seasons that saw progress, and an NHL callup in some years, but no clear positives in career direction.

In 2016 17, he made the team in a mild surprise, and the offense flowed as it hadn t done in previous NHL looks.

Through 31 games, Pitlick scored eight goals in about 10 minutes a night. Things were looking good for him and the Oilers were winning games for the first time in a decade.

Once again, though, Pitlick got hurt and missed the rest of the season. That absence from the lineup allowed him to gain free agency, and he can now take his emerging skills on to the free agent market.

An NHL team looking for a winger who can play up and down the lineup—with speed, size and skill—will want to check out Pitlick.
3. Nail Yakupov, RW, St. Louis Blues
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Jeff Curry USA TODAY Sports
Nail Yakupov was cut loose by the St. Louis Blues after a year in which he failed to impress enough to stay in the lineup.

The former No. 1 overall selection has had a rocky time since arriving in the fall of 2012. His scoring potential has been on display in fits and starts, but he is a one dimensional talent who stands out in a bad way when things aren t going well.

One of the laws of the NHL is that high picks get more chances than lower selections. Yakupov led rookie scorers in 2012 13 and one of the 29 teams who has yet to employ him has a coach who believes he can find a way to unlock his talent.

This is likely the most tempting possible addition of the group under 25 during this year s free agency. The toughest thing to do in hockey is score goals Jake Allen Jersey, and Yakupov has averaged close to 15 per 82 games since arriving in the NHL. That has a lot of value, and at 23, he could be an enormous addition if things work out.
2. Mikhail Grigorenko, C, Colorado Avalanche
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Isaiah J. Downing USA TODAY Sports
Mikhail Grigorenko is a free agent because the Colorado Avalanche didn t extend a qualifying offer. It must have been a difficult decision, as management acquired the Russian in the big Ryan O Reilly trade in 2015, a deal that is now viewed as a poor one for the team.

Although his cap hit was just 1.3 million and he scored 10 goals last season, Colorado felt his role was well covered by others on the roster. It s likely several teams will have interest in Grigorenko for his two way play and utility. He can play center or wing, win faceoffs and play in all three game disciplines.

It was an unusual decision by Colorado, as Grigorenko is just 23 and should have many productive years ahead. It is possible the team shopped him around, and the fact he wasn t traded may mean the level of interest is not high.

Fans should expect Grigorenko to be signed early in free agency based on potential and a reasonable cap hit.
1. Jordan Weal, C, Philadelphia Flyers
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Eric Hartline USA TODAY Sports
Jordan Weal of the Philadelphia Flyers is a late blooming scorer who is about to hit free agency at an ideal time. Drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in 2010, he has been playing most of his hockey in the minors since turning pro.

Weal was dealt by the Kings to the Philadelphia Flyers in January 2016 but played only four NHL games for them after the deadline. In 2016 17, the Canadian played 43 games in the AHL, but his 23 NHL games were marked by eight goals and a ton of chances.

NHL teams are desperately looking to add offense without spending major cap dollars, and Weal shouldn t cost a lot. He represents an intriguing option for NHL teams and should have a long list of suitors on July 1.

Weal would do well to choose a team with real offensive power and a couple of playmaking centers.

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