Good/Bad/Ugly: The top 10 free-agent wingers

When news was floating around that the Sedins were close to inking back with the Canucks, we delayed this ranking. Taking Daniel Sedin out of the equation does affect the rest of the wingers, albeit minimally because he's obviously a package deal. If the Sedins are re-signed before noon, then add Steve Sullivan of the Nashville Predators to the list.

It's an intriguing list because there are some real risk/reward situations here. Marian Gaborik, in particular, could be the signing of the year if he can stay healthy; yet there's a better chance that the new "G.I. Joe" flick wins Best Picture than that happening, based on Gabby's track record.

Here's a glance at the top wingers, as the Frenzy nears ...

First off, a player that Red Wings fans are starting to believe won't be back.

1. Marian Hossa

Current Team: Detroit Red Wings
Current Cap Hit: $7.450 million

The Good: One of the best snipers in hockey, having gone over 30 goals in seven of the last eight years and over 40 three times in that span. Had 71 points in 74 games for the Detroit Red Wings this season.

The Bad: While there were mitigating circumstances, the knock on Hossa as an inconsistent playoff performer (15 points in 23 games) is alive and kicking.

The Ugly: Never allow him to pick out the beer mugs. No good with Cup selection.

2. Marian Gaborik

Current Team: Minnesota Wild
Current Cap Hit: $6.333 million

The Good: Simply put, one of the most dynamic offensive players in hockey, and one that's been quietly begging to leave the shackles of a defensive system. Gaborik has scored 123 goals in his last 207 games.

The Bad: Those 207 games are over the course of four seasons, because he's more fragile than an eggshell with low self-esteem.

The Ugly: Might have the crazy idea that he's worth a long-term contract despite being in and out of action more than Matt Damon.

3. Martin Havlat

Current Team: Chicago Blackhawks
Current Cap Hit: $6.000 million

The Good: Finally played 81 games for the first time in his career, and proved to be a vital offensive weapon for the Blackhawks to the tune of 29 goals and 77 points, both career highs. Had 15 points in 16 playoff games. 

The Bad: Like Gaborik, his previous few years were less "season ticket" and more "partial plan" thanks to injuries. 

The Ugly: Still picking tiny pieces of Niklas Kronwall out of his face.

4. Daniel Sedin

Current Team: Vancouver Canucks
Current Cap Hit: $3.575 million

The Good: Above-average goal-scorer who plays nearly every night (never below 79 games since 2001). One of the top players in the NHL at even-strength offense, ranking with names like Ovechkin and Malkin.

The Bad: As we said with his brother in the centers section, he's a package deal.

The Ugly: Henrik's better. (Clap, clap, clap clap clap.)

5. Alexei Kovalev

Current Team: Montreal Canadiens
Current Cap Hit: $4.500 million

The Good: Coming off a wretched season ... but it was Montreal, so who isn't? Tough to say that his 84 points in 82 games one year earlier was an aberration. Under the right conditions, Kovalev remains a player who can create instant offense for a team.

The Bad: Not questioning what's going on in that 'ole Russian noodle, but he did get sent home by the Habs to clear his mind last year.

The Ugly: "Kovalev" could be safely used as a clue for "enigma" in Super Password.

6. Alex Tanguay

Current Team: Montreal Canadiens
Current Cap Hit: $5.250 million

The Good: When he's on his game, one of the best left-wingers in the NHL and an undeniable top-line player in the 80-point range.

The Bad: A top line player, but one that might need top-line talent to post big numbers instead of making others better.

The Ugly: After suffering through the reign of Iron Mike Keenan, Tanguay came to Montreal for an injury-filled suck-fest that saw him tally the smallest point total of his career (41).

7. Brian Gionta

Current Team: New Jersey Devils
Current Cap Hit: $4.000 million

The Good: Blazing fast winger can create plenty of offensive on the rush. His 60 points last season for the Devils was his career second-best.

The Bad: His best offensive season -- 2005-06, when he scored 48 goals -- appears to be a total and utter fluke with each passing season.

The Ugly: Not saying he's small, but once fought a spider with a sewing needle twice his size.

8. Mike Knuble

Current Team: Philadelphia Flyers
Current Cap Hit: $2.800 million

The Good: Durable, gritty, supremely underrated winger who can put the puck in the net and be sturdy complementary player on the top line. Scoring 26 power-play goals in the last two years isn't shabby, either. 

The Bad: That $2.8 million figure seems about right for this grunt. Anything more, and you have to start wondering what return you need to feel good about the investment.

The Ugly: This weekend, hits 37. (In a row?)

9. Chris Neil

Current Team: Ottawa Senators
Current Cap Hit: $1.100 million

The Good: Perhaps the best agitator/pot-stirrer/pain in the backside on the UFA market. Honestly, when one qualifies for a gallery called Notable Pests of the NHL, one must be doing something right. Or wrong.  

The Bad: Rejected a $1.8 million bid from the Ottawa Senators; how much does a player whose numbers have plummeted think he's worth?

The Ugly: Had the nerve to try and destroy our boy Milan Lucic. Jerk.

10. Chad LaRose

Current Team: Carolina Hurricanes
Current Cap Hit: $875,000

The Good: Had his best offensive season last year (19 goals, 31 points) and worked his ass off in the postseason to the tune of 11 points in 18 games. Impressed pretty much everyone who saw him. A bit of a darkhorse in a talented field of wingers, but at 27 he's entering prime time.

The Bad: He'll come cheaper than teammate Erik Cole, but does that necessarily mean he'll be a better investment?

The Ugly: Pretty much has to hate technology after that playoff screw job. It's miracle if he still uses a toaster oven.

All cap figures from NHL Numbers.

Previously on Puck Daddy:

The top 10 defensemen

The top 10 centers

The top 10 goalies

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