NHL.com goes Behind the Numbers to examine trends during the offseason. Today, a look at players who have been bought out of their contracts and are unrestricted free agents eligible to sign with another team on Oct. 9. Each has redeeming statistics that identify potential value for a new team.
Ryan had the final two years of his contract bought out by the Ottawa Senators on Sept. 26 after spending the last seven seasons with the team. The 33-year-old forward scored eight points (five goals, three assists) in 24 games last season, the lowest total of his career. He took an extended leave of absence from the Senators in November to enter the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program, citing issues with alcohol abuse. There might be some concern for new teams that Ryan is no longer as productive as he once was, but underlying stats suggest he has more to contribute. He was third among Senators skaters in SAT (plus-34) behind defenseman Dylan DeMelo (plus-68; traded to Winnipeg Jets) and forward Brady Tkachuk (plus-59), suggesting the Senators drove puck possession when Ryan was on the ice. Ryan was fifth among Senators skaters in points per 60 (1.63) behind Anthony Duclair (1.97), Connor Brown (1.91), Tyler Ennis (1.90; traded to Edmonton Oilers), and Tkachuk (1.75). Ryan’s 1.63 points per 60 weren’t far off from his career average in seven seasons with the Senators (1.80) suggesting he could still contribute offensively for a new team.
He had the final three years of his contract bought out by the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday after he played 11 seasons with the team. Abdelkader had three assists in 49 games last season, the lowest point total of any season in his career in which he played at least three games. The 33-year-old is a combined minus-75 since 2015-16 which is tied for worst among all Red Wings skaters with Andreas Athanasiou, who was traded to the Edmonton Oilers on Feb. 24, but could Abdelkader benefit from a fresh start? Statistics suggest he could help a team’s penalty kill and bring a physical presence with 103 hits in 49 games last season and an average of 1:10 shorthanded time on ice per game. Abdelkader also had 26 blocks last season, which was sixth among Red Wings forwards behind Lukas Glendening (68), Dylan Larkin (45), Frans Nielsen (35), Valterri Flippula (31) and Tyler Bertuzzi (30). Though his best offensive days are likely behind him, he can contribute to the bottom-six forward group for a new team.
He had the final year of his contract bought out by the Arizona Coyotes on Oct. 3 after playing two seasons with them. The 33-year-old scored 11 points (eight goals, three assists) in 46 regular-season games and had three goals in nine postseason games. Grabner hasn’t scored at least 20 points in a season since 2017-18 when he had 36 (27 goals, nine assists) in 80 games between the New York Rangers and the New Jersey Devils. Though his production has declined, Grabner remains a scoring threat on the penalty kill with nine shorthanded goals since 2017-18, which is tied for first in the League with Blake Coleman of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Grabner has averaged 2:11 per game at the situation over the span which is tied for 21st in the League among forwards with Adam Lowry of the Winnipeg Jets, Nick Bonino of the Nashville Predators, and Lars Eller of the Washington Capitals. Grabner’s ability to kill penalties and score short-handed goals make him an intriguing depth forward option when the free agency opens on Oct. 9.
Lundqvist had the final year of his contract bought out by the New York Rangers on Sept. 30 after 15 seasons with the team. Lundqvist had the lowest win total of his NHL career with 10 in 30 games last season, but split time with younger goalies Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev. The 38-year-old also saw the lowest save percentage of his career last season (.905), his second straight season playing below a .910 average after having a .907 in 2018-19. Even with the declining numbers, advanced stats show Lundqvist could make an impact with a new team. His .919 even-strength save percentage was tied for 23rd in the League with Juuse Saros of the Nashville Predators among those to play at least 30 games and second among Rangers goalies behind Shesterkin (.935) with no minimum games played. Lundqvist’s even-strength save percentage has remained consistent over the past three seasons, showing no signs of decline with a .918 in 2017-2018, and a .919 in each of the past two seasons. With a lighter workload, Lundqvist can perform among the best 25 goalies in the NHL at even strength, which could make him one of the most valuable backups in the League next season.
The 31-year-old forward had the remaining four years of his contract bought out by the Nashville Predators on Wednesday. Turris scored 31 points (nine goals, 22 assists) in 62 regular-season games and went scoreless in four postseason games. After averaging 1.70 points per 60 in seven seasons with the Ottawa Senators, Turris saw a decline to 1.50 points per 60 in three seasons with the Predators. Turris has a plus-234 SAT over the past three seasons with Nashville, which ranked sixth among their forward group behind Craig Smith (plus-531), Filip Forsberg (plus-408), Ryan Johansen (plus-393), Kevin Fiala (plus-336; traded to Minnesota Wild), and Viktor Arvidsson (plus-244). Turris averaged 2:13 on the power play per game, where he was third among Predators forwards with 33 power-play points over the span behind Forsberg (45) and Johansen (40). Though Turris has seen a decline in points per 60, numbers suggest he can still help drive puck possession and contribute on the man advantage for a new team.