Four UFA's who could be unexpectedly huge in fantasy hockey…and six UFA's who are destined to disappoint

The NHL silly season is starting July 1 with Free Agent Frenzy, and there are some big names available. The problem is, a "big name" does not necessarily mean "big production". Although it will most assuredly mean "big money".



Here are six big-name players who are getting too much hype in both real and fantasy hockey. Whoever is left holding these hot potatoes will soon regret it.


Ryan Miller - His 0.923 save percentage last season while with Buffalo aside, Miller hasn't been the same goaltender since that Milan Lucic incident. If he can't win games and post huge fantasy numbers on a St. Louis team with Ken Hitchcock as the coach, I shudder to see the results of his playing for a different team. The Blues need a starter next season and they're letting Miller go. Does that not say something?

Best case: Minnesota. May not be quite so bad there, so there's hope.


Here is the Lucic thing:




Brad Richards - First-line minutes and first-unit power-play time is leading to…50 points. He's not getting any younger and I just get that "Vinny Lecavalier" vibe here. Richards will sign with a team for second-line money, and his new team (and fantasy owners) will be extremely disappointed when he fails to put up even 50 points when his minutes are cut.

Best case: Dallas. As a third-line center in familiar Dallas, he could be a solid 45-point player, seeing reasonable PP time.


Dan Boyle - An excellent defenseman to bring on board for his experience and as a secondary power-play supporter. But if a team expects him to be "the man", they have another think coming. Boyle tallied 36 points last season and I would be shocked if he got back up over 40 again.

Best case: Detroit. In a Mike Babcock system, his shortcomings will be covered and he'll be used a ton on what should be an effective power play.


Matt Niskanen - How often do we see a defenseman have a career season just before he's about to become unrestricted (ahem - Garrison)? Niskanen will sign for big money and get big minutes, but he won't post big numbers.

Best case: NY Islanders. Since staying put isn't an option (is it?), joining a team with a high-octane offense and no set quarterback is ideal.


Dave Bolland - The money that Bolland will sign for will be sickening. On a David Clarkson level. But he'll earn that money playing 50 games per year because, let's face it, he's fragile.

Best case: A Canadian team. Because of the health-care plan.


Matt Moulson - Moulson was a star with John Tavares, but let's remember that he was destined to be a career minor leaguer before the Islanders gave him the sweet job. Without a superstar to click with, Moulson will only put up modest points.

Best case: Pittsburgh or NY Islanders. Give him a stud centerman again.



And here are four players whom nobody is talking about. But by December, everyone will be. These are very deep "sleepers", but keep a close watch:


Kevin Hayes - The Chicago prospect is not a free agent yet, but next week he could very well declare himself one. Rumor has it that he won't sign with the team. He is a top prospect and could either sign with Florida (to join his brother Jimmy) or with Calgary (to join his former linemates Johnny Gaudreau and Bill Arnold). Either scenario would see him play at least some games in the NHL right away, and I think his impact will surprise.

Best case: Calgary. Lining up with the highly-skilled Gaudreau could see the two of them with 40-point rookie seasons. And much, much more to come down the road.


Nikolai Kulemin - The hot rumor is that the Pittsburgh Penguins will sign Kulemin and he will line up with Evgeni Malkin, who is his linemate when they play for Team Russia. If that happens, forget about it - his production will explode. And frankly, signing with any other team would make his fantasy value close to zero. It's Pittsburgh or nothing.

Best case: Didn't you read? I said Pittsburgh!


Brian Boyle - Boyle isn't going to go out there and anchor the second line and post 60 points. But he'll be signed to a cheaper deal and man a third line, probably seeing more ice time (and power-play time) than he did with the Rangers.

Best case: Toronto. The Leafs are starving for size down the middle and would use him on the power play, as well as on a checking line. The added ice time could see him flirt with 200 hits with a new team.


Jamie McBain - McBain, who was not qualified by the Sabres, is looking as though he'll be a depth guy or a minor leaguer in the same vain as a Matt Gilroy. But there is some hope. There is a team out there, probably several, where he would be a great fit and produce good numbers. His first season-and-a-half in the NHL indicated that he could be a 50-point defenseman. In the right environment he could salvage 40 or more for sure.

Best case: Calgary or Vancouver. A rebuilding team without a whole lot of depth on defense. Yes, I know he was just bought out from one. We'll call that "strike two".



Top 10 NHL Unrestricted Free Agents


I'll have all the quick fantasy hockey analysis of each signing on Free Agent Frenzy - Tuesday, July 1. Be sure to check in often

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