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Frank Seravalli

TSN Senior Hockey Reporter

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That sound you heard on Wednesday afternoon was not Edmonton, Montreal and Toronto imploding, but rather an armoured Brinks truck backing up to the residences of Milan Lucic, Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo.

With Steven Stamkos off the market, the NHL’s other top tier free agents still stand to cash in on Friday with large paydays.

The "frenzy" part of Free Agent Frenzy is largely gone thanks to a five-day interview period which has saved NHL GMs from themselves, but quite a few teams will still be looking to spend on Friday. A number of non-budget teams who may have been gearing up to land the "big fish" - the Red Wings, Rangers, Sabres, Islanders, Bruins and even Panthers - all have more than $15 million in salary cap space to spend. 

Even other teams who do not have a significant amount of salary cap space, such as the Nashville Predators, may still be in a position to spend. GM David Poile said he modernized his defence corps, but he still has nearly $6 million at his disposal with 21 players already signed (13 forwards, six defencemen and two goalies). Friday will be interesting.

Lucic, 28, vaulted to the top of TSN's Top 50 Free Agents list once Stamkos decided to remain in Tampa Bay for the next eight years.

Lucic is believed to have turned down a six-year, $36 million offer from Los Angeles, allowing him to hit the market. He's reportedly being courted by 10 or more teams with the thought that his new deal will exceed $40 million - perhaps at $42 million - over seven years.

The Edmonton Oilers remain the front-runner for Lucic’s services. He visited Edmonton on Tuesday and toured their sparkling new downtown arena alongside free agent defenceman Jason Demers, who is expected to sign the largest ticket on the back end this summer.

The confidence to be able to sign Lucic is one reason why Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli was able to deal fellow left winger Taylor Hall to New Jersey on Wednesday to fill a glaring positional need on defence with top-pairing blueliner Adam Larsson.

But Lucic to Edmonton isn’t a done deal just yet. Lucic is also believed to have met with the Dallas Stars on Wednesday back in his hometown of Vancouver. Stars owner Tom Gaglardi was thought to have been present for the pitch to Lucic.

Nielsen, 32, quickly became the No. 1 centre target for many teams, including the Detroit Red Wings, after Stamkos re-upped with the Lightning. He will find plenty of suitors after racking up his second 50-point season in three years while being a positive possession player. His Islanders teammate Okposo, 28, broke the 60-point barrier in two of his last three seasons - and he’s on the right side of 30. Cha-ching.

Here is the latest TSN Hockey Top 50 Free Agent list:

 

TSN Hockey Top 50 UFA List

 
RK PLAYER TEAM POS AGE GP G PTS 15-16
1 Milan Lucic LAK LW 28 81 20 55 $6 M
2 Loui Eriksson Bos LW 30 82 30 63 $4.25 M
3 Frans Nielsen NYI C 32 81 20 52 $2.75 M
4 Kyle Okposo NYI RW 28 79 22 64 $2.8 M
5 Andrew Ladd Chi LW 30 78 25 46 $4.4 M
6 Mikkel Boedker Col RW 26 80 17 51 $3.75 M
7 David Backes StL C 32 79 21 45 $4.5 M
8 Jason Demers Dal RD 28 62 7 23 $3.4 M
9 Troy Brouwer StL RW 30 82 18 39 $3.66 M
10 Brian Campbell Fla LD 37 82 6 31 $7.14 M
11 Jimmy Vesey Buf LW 23 33 24 46 -
12 David Perron Ana LW 28 71 12 36 $3.81 M
13 Kris Russell Dal LD 29 62 4 19 $2.6 M
14 Jamie McGinn Ana LW 27 84 22 39 $2.95 M
15 Dan Hamhuis Van LD 33 58 3 13 $4.5 M
16 James Reimer SJS G 28 40 2.30 .922 $2.3 M
17 Eric Staal NYR C 31 83 13 39 $8.25 M
18 Darren Helm Det LW 29 77 13 26 $2.13 M
19 Matt Martin NYI LW 27 80 10 19 $1 M
20 Dale Weise Chi RW 27 71 14 27 $1.03 M
21 Lee Stempniak Bos RW 33 82 19 51 $850 K
22 Jiri Hudler Fla RW 32 72 16 46 $4 M
23 Luke Schenn LAK RD 26 72 4 16 $3.6 M
24 Jason Chimera Wsh LW 37 82 20 40 $2 M
25 Justin Schultz Pit RD 25 63 4 18 $3.9 M
26 Radim Vrbata Van RW 35 63 13 27 $5 M
27 Teddy Purcell Fla RW 30 76 14 43 $4.5 M
28 Ben Lovejoy Pit RD 32 66 4 10 $1.1 M
29 Roman Polak SJS RD 30 79 1 16 $2.75 M
30 Kris Versteeg LAK RW 30 77 15 38 $4.4 M
31 Thomas Vanek Min LW 32 74 18 41 $6.5 M
32 Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau Tor LW 33 77 20 41 $1.33 M
33 Shawn Matthias Col LW 28 71 12 28 $2.3 M
34 Sam Gagner Phi C 26 53 8 16 $4.8 M
35 Brandon Pirri Ana LW 25 61 14 29 $975K
36 Chad Johnson Buf G 30 45 2.40 .920 $1.3 M
37 David Schlemko NJD LD 29 67 6 19 $625K
38 Matt Bartkowski Van LD 28 80 6 18 $1.75 M
39 Patrick Wiercioch Ott LD 25 52 0 5 $2.0 M
40 Jared Cowen Tor LD 25 37 0 4 $3.1 M
41 Jhonas Enroth LAK G 28 16 2.20 .922 $1.25 M
42 Eric Gryba Edm RD 28 53 1 6 $1.25 M
43 Kyle Quincey Det LD 30 47 4 11 $4.25 M
44 Chris Stewart Ana RW 28 56 8 20 $1.7 M
45 Jeff Zatkoff Pit G 29 14 2.80 .917 $600K
46 Al Montoya Fla G 31 25 2.2 .919 $1.05 M
47 Michael Grabner Tor RW 28 80 9 18 $3 M
48 Nick Spaling SJS C 27 58 3 13 $2.2 M
49 Carter Hutton Nsh G 30 17 2.3 .918 $750K
50 Viktor Stalberg NYR LW 30 75 9 20 $1.1 M
 

Note: Though they did not receive qualifying offers and could become unrestricted free agents on Friday, Calgary’s Joe Colborne and Josh Jooris as well as New Jersey’s Beau Bennett, Jon Merrill and Devante Smith-Pelly were not included on this list with the belief that they will be re-signed by their teams before hitting the market.