Nation-Now NHL free agency 2016: Don't overpay for these five players


With Steven Stamkos choosing to re-sign with the Tampa Bay Lightning, the 2016 free agency class has taken a big hit. There is no player available who can change a game like him. 

Teams that prioritized Stamkos will now look to Plan B, and that includes players such as Milan Lucic and Kyle Okposo. But as teams have locked up their young, impact talent, even the best players on the market will be overpaid and overextended.

Here are five players we’d think twice about when free agency opens July 1 at noon ET:

David Backes, St. Louis Blues center: He brings all the intangibles that are hard to quantify but organizations love: leadership, accountability, grit and passion. Backes is also a center, a position that teams are always looking to fill. He has scored at least 20 goals six times in his career, while posting at least 45 points seven times. It’s not that he’s a bad player, but at 32 and with a bruising style of play, it’s likely we’ve seen his best. Backes’ production fell to a career-worst 1.35 points per 60 minutes at even strength last season. An expensive, long-term deal wouldn’t be prudent.

Troy Brouwer, Blues winger: He is a middle-six forward with size, probably more suited in a third-line role. Not a big-time scorer, nor is he a possession driver. But Brouwer did impress in the playoffs with eight goals (23% scoring rate) and 13 points, so some team will pay him for that. The problem is that Brouwer is 30 years old, he’s not a great skater and his career highs are 25 goals and 43 points.

Jason Demers, Dallas Stars defenseman: This is not the year to be patching a defense through free agency. The crop is weak: from Dan Hamhuis to Kyle Quincey to Kris Russell. There is no first-pairing player available now that Keith Yandle signed with the Florida Panthers. Teams are always searching for dependability on the blue line, but the short supply will mean a few get overpaid.

Eric Staal, New York Rangers center: It was only a few years ago when he was considered a premiere power forward. But he is not worth nearly the $8.25 annual average value of his last contract now. Even though he is 31, he has played 977 games and has lost a step. It’s not unrealistic to envision a return to 20 goals and 50 points, but he’s not a headliner anymore. 

Matt Martin, New York Islanders winger: He is the most physical forward in the league, with the most hits over each of the past five seasons. Martin is also an excellent defensive player at a time when advanced statistics (in this case suppressing shots) is becoming more commonplace. But is that worth $12 million over four years? That’s what he wants, according to Newsday’s Arthur Staple. But he has never topped 10 goals or 19 points in a season.



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