The top 30 unrestricted free agents of 2016 – UPDATED

Who are the best remaining unrestricted free agents approaching Friday, July 1? Here are THN's top 30 names.
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The Hockey News

The Hockey News

A few prominent unrestricted free agents have come off the board over the past week, most notably Keith Yandle and Alex Goligoski, but plenty of big names remain in a rich 2016 class. My top 30 UFAs:

1. STEVEN STAMKOS, C

Age: 26

2015-16 cap hit: $7.5 million

Never has a talent of his caliber hit the open market so young. Could flirt with a record deal unless the blood clot scare drops his price. SIGNED: Eight years, $68 million with Lightning

2. KYLE OKPOSO, RW

Age: 28

2015-16 cap hit: $2.8 million

More productive than Andrew Ladd or Milan Lucic in recent years. Okposo less of a name brand and lacks Cup ring, so might come cheaper. SIGNED:Seven years, $42 million with Sabres

3. DAVID BACKES, C

Age: 32

2015-16 cap hit: $4.5 million

More mileage than most at his age. He'll still strike it rich as a big, mean center with excellent two-way skills. SIGNED:Five years, $30 million with Bruins

4. MILAN LUCIC, LW

Age:28

2015-16 cap hit: $6 million

Power forward hasn't broken down yet despite physical style. Has only missed an average of 1.7 games over past six seasons. SIGNED:Signed: Seven years, $42 million with Oilers

5. ANDREW LADD, LW

Age:30

2015-16 cap hit: $4.4 million

A winner who fits in top six and plays strong 200-foot game commands big money. Have to think that prices him out of Chicago. SIGNED:Seven years, $38.5 million with Islanders

6. LOUI ERIKSSON, RW

Age:30

2015-16 cap hit: $4.25 million

Earned millions for himself with bounce-back year. How would he look on a Swede line with Henrik and Daniel Sedin? SIGNED:Six years, $36 million with Canucks

7. BRIAN CAMPBELL, D

Age:37

2015-16 cap hit: $7.14 million

Still a decent minute muncher. Age may scare some teams off and make him a bargain on a short-term contract. Watch the Blackhawks closely. SIGNED:One year, $1.5 million with Blackhawks

8. FRANS NIELSEN, C

Age: 32

2015-16 cap hit: $2.75 million

Plays major minutes in all situations. An underrated fit for any team's middle six forwards. SIGNED:Six years, $31.5 million with Red Wings

9. MIKKEL BOEDKER, RW

Age: 26

2015-16 cap hit: $3.75 million

Speedy scorer has leftover potential to tap into if he gets a long-term chance with elite linemates. SIGNED:Four years, $16 million with Sharks

10. JIRI HUDLER, RW

Age: 32

2015-16 cap hit: $4 million

Career year in 2014-15, then tanked in contract year. Still a handy playmaking forward for someone's top six.

11. ERIC STAAL, C

Age: 31

2015-16 cap hit: $8.25 million

Prime candidate to be overpaid. Not the offensive force he once was. Has stopped shooting the puck. Still, he's hardly ancient at 31. SIGNED:Three years, $10.5 million with Wild

12. TROY BROUWER, RW

Age: 30

2015-16 cap hit: $3.67 million

Big banger proved his worth in the playoffs. Could upgrade a Cup contender or add veteran help to an up and comer. SIGNED:Four years, $18.5 million with Flames

13. JAMES REIMER, G

Age:28

2015-16 cap hit: $2.3 million

Has earned chance to start, but few if any teams need a bona fide No. 1. Flames would've been the perfect fit had they not acquired Brian Elliott. SIGNED:Five years, $17 million with Panthers

14. DAN HAMHUIS, D

Age:33

2015-16 cap hit: $4.5 million

Canucks will be ridiculed if they don't re-sign Hamhuis after failing to move him at deadline. Is he still a good fit? SIGNED:Two years, $7 million with Stars

15. RADIM VRBATA, RW

Age: 35

2015-16 cap hit: $5 million

One season removed from arguably being the Canucks' best player. Will attract teams starved for secondary scorers.

16. DAVID PERRON, LW

Age: 28

2015-16 cap hit: $3.81 million

Still relatively young and corrected his career course with Ducks. Plenty of reason for both sides to stay together. SIGNED:Two years, $7 million with Blues

17. KRIS RUSSELL, D

Age: 29

2015-16 cap hit: $2.6 million

A trap signing? Lauded for shot blocking but possession numbers suggest he was a below-average defender in 2015-16.

18. LEE STEMPNIAK, RW

Age: 33

2015-16 cap hit: $850,000

Won't come nearly as cheap as last year but might rejoin Bruins. Relegated to short-term "suitcase" deals at this stage. SIGNED:Two years, $5 million with Hurricanes

19. SHANE DOAN, RW

Age: 39

2015-16 cap hit: $5.3 million

Turns 40 Oct. 10, but 28 goals were most since 2008-09. He'll stay with Coyotes. Seems destined never to change teams, a la Chris Phillips in Ottawa.

20. JAMIE MCGINN, LW

Age: 27

2015-16 cap hit: $2.95 million

A bargain. His offense spikes whenever he's given a chance to play with legit scorers, as he showed in Anaheim. SIGNED:Three years, $10 million with Coyotes

21. TEDDY PURCELL, RW

Age: 30

2015-16 cap hit: $4.5 million

No lock to earn a long-term deal. In his 30s now and more of a stopgap and trading chip. A younger Stempniak. SIGNED:One year, $1.6 million with Kings

22. JASON DEMERS, D

Age: 28

2015-16 cap hit: $3.4 million

Solid depth addition, but a team that pays him like a top-pairing guy might end up disappointed. SIGNED:Five years, $22.5 million with Panthers

23. JIMMY VESEY, LW

Age: 23

2015-16 cap hit: N/A

Great offensive potential, but college signees who become stars are the exception, not the norm. He's not risk-free.

24. JOE COLBORNE, RW

Age: 26

2015-16 cap hit: $1.28 million

A surprise UFA after Flames did not qualify him. Plenty left to offer at his age. A huge frame and could move back to his natural position of center. SIGNED:Two years, $5 million with Avalanche

25. BRANDON PIRRI, LW

Age: 25

2015-16 cap hit: $925,000

Continuously flashes goal-scoring potential and won't cost too much. A nice sleeper.

26. ROMAN POLAK, D

Age: 30

2015-16 cap hit: $2.75 million

Raised profile and price tag on a deep playoff run with Sharks. Brings nice physicality to a bottom pair, but look under the hood and the possession numbers are ugly. SIGNED:One year, $2.25 million with Maple Leafs

27. JASON CHIMERA, LW

Age: 37

2015-16 cap hit: $2 million

Might be a cap casualty in Washington. Coming off career year and in tremendous shape, but a short-term deal makes sense at his age. SIGNED:Two years, $4.5 million

28. MATT MARTIN, LW

Age: 27

2015-16 cap hit: $1 million

One third of the NHL's Best Checking Line has led NHL in hits five straight seasons. SIGNED:Four years, $10 million with Maple Leafs

29. THOMAS VANEK, LW

Age: 32

2015-16 cap hit: $6.5 million

There are worse fliers to take. He should come dirt cheap relative to his natural ability, and he'll have something to prove after flopping in Minnesota. SIGNED:One year, $2.6 million with Red Wings

30. DARREN HELM, LW

Age: 29

2015-16 cap hit: $2.13 million

Picked the right time to get healthy. Helm has averaged 76 games the past two seasons and brings useful speed and penalty-killing acumen. SIGNED: Five years, $19.25 million with Red Wings

Other UFAs to watch: P-A Parenteau, Shawn Matthias (Signed, Jets), Kyle Quincey, Patrick Wiercioch (Signed, Avalanche), Kris Versteeg, Dale Weise (Signed, Flyers), Justin Schultz

*Alex Goligoski, Keith Yandle, Alexander Radulov and Cam Ward made the original top-30 list but are now off the market.

Matt Larkin is a writer and editor at The Hockey News and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Matt Larkin on Twitter at @THNMattLarkin

This is an updated, expanded version of a feature that appeared in the Free Agency Preview edition of The Hockey News magazine. Get in-depth features like this one, and much more, by subscribing now.

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