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The old saying stands true; one man’s trash can be another man’s treasure. With the NHL qualifying deadline of June 29th behind us, we as fans of our respective teams can now go and dig thought the trash of unqualified RFAs of other teams. We imagine how they could fit in to our teams, how a fresh start could jump start their careers. Now I know that treasure could be a strong word to describe what can be found in the players that weren’t qualified this year, there is a reason that their teams didn’t qualify them. These players at there best can be considered depth options, but depth in the NHL is needed, finding a player that can play fourth line or be your sixth defenseman without hurting your teams’ chances of winning is the treasure. With that here is my list of top 10 unqualified RFAs.

All player details are (age, height, etc. ) are from HockeyDB.

10. Sena Acolatse
Defense -- shoots R
Born Nov 28 1990 -- Hayward, CA
[24 yrs. ago]
Height 5.11 -- Weight 203 [180 cm/92 kg]

Former team(s):
Calgary Flames (2014-15) San Jose Sharks (2011-14)

History of the player:

For the second year in a row Sena Acolatse has not been qualified by his team. This very well may be the end of the road for the former WHL stand out. Acolatse was signed as a free agent by the San Jose Sharks in 2011 after a dominate season with the WHL Prince George Cougars. Sena spent the next three years playing for the Worcester Sharks, and after not being tendered an offer by the SJ Sharks signed a one year deal with the Calgary Flames, where he ended up playing in Adirondack, were the Flames AHL team was located.

Upside :

Part of the reason for the Flames not tendering Acolatse a qualifying offer is simple, they just don’t have room for him on their blue line. Another reason, he just can’t stay healthy. Hockey’s Future has this to say about Acolatse “… is a hard-nosed defenseman who plays with a lot of emotion. He skates well and has some offensive components to his game but has been known for his combative nature during his pro career. He possesses solid puck skills and his shot is considered an asset. Slowed by injuries the past two seasons — he broke his jaw while blocking a shot in 2012-13 and suffered a broken leg last season — his development has lagged. His rugged style and all out approach has gotten him to pro hockey but at times has cost him playing time. His positional play is inconsistent and is an area that must continue to evolve if he is to reach the NHL.” At best, here we are looking at a defenseman that could be a seventh man on a NHL defence, but if Acolatse can stay healthy he could have a few good years in the NHL.

Teams that could take a chance:

Buffalo Sabres , Columbus Blue Jackets, Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers, New Jersey Devils, and Toronto Maple Leafs

9. Thomas Larkin
Defense
Born Dec 31 1990 -- Cocquio-Trevisago, Italy
[24 yrs. ago]
Height 6.05 -- Weight 221 [196 cm/100 kg]
- round 5 #137 overall 2009 NHL Entry Draft

Former team(s):
Columbus Blue Jackets (2009-15)

History of the player:

Thomas Larkin is the first ever Italian trained hockey player taken in the NHL draft. Selected in the 2009 draft, Larkin would spend the next four years playing for Colgate University. Larkin played a solid defensive game, while also contributing on the offence, being named captain in his senior year. During this time Larkin also played for the Italian national team on two occasions. After his time in University Thomas would be signed to a two year deal by the Blue Jackets, starting his professional hockey career playing for the Springfield Falcons and then for part of a year the Evansville Icemen of the ECHL. Last season Larkin played sixty-two games for the Falcons while scoring 5 goals and 12 assists, also adding 89 penalty minutes.

Upside :

To be completely truthful here I don’t know why the Blue Jackets gave up on this guy. Their prospect pool is not exactly A grade when in it comes to defenseman that are almost NHL ready. Future Hockey had this to say about Thomas last year,” Larkin’s biggest challenge is to use his size to his advantage. Not an imposing physical player despite his size he is more of a skating, positional player who plays a skillful game. Larkin appeared to show some physical elements to his game in his first pro season as he made the adjustment from the college game to pro hockey.” This season Larkin has started to realize that his size is his great asset, as well as defensive game. While his offensive talent may not be there at pro level and at his age my never be, bottom pairing duties on a rebuilding team or seventh man on a team on the rise doesn’t seem out of the question.

Teams that could take a chance:

Buffalo Sabres, Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers, New Jersey Devils, and Toronto Maple Leafs

8. Keith Aulie
Defense -- shoots L
Born Jun 11 1989 -- Rouleau, SASK
[26 yrs. ago]
Height 6.06 -- Weight 228 [198 cm/103 kg]
- round 4 #116 overall 2007 NHL Entry Draft

Former team(s):
Calgary Flames (2007-10) Toronto Maple Leafs (2010-12) Tampa Bay Lighting (2012-14) Edmonton Oilers (2014-15)

History of the player:

I’m sure most of you know the history of Keith Aulie, but I’ll go over it anyway. Drafted by the Calgary Flames in 2007 Aulie would play three more years with the WHL Brandon Wheat Kings. Going pro in 2009 he would play 43 games of the Abbotsford Heat before being part of the Dion Phaneuf trade to Toronto. The next four and a half years was spent in the Leafs system in one way or another, be it in the NHL or AHL. On February 27th 2012 Keith was dealt to the Lighting, he would spend the next 2 seasons trying to prove he was a NHL roster player. After a disappointing season in 2014 the Tampa Bay Lighting didn’t qualify Aulie, he would test free agency and sign with the Edmonton Oilers for a one year deal. Where after another unspectacular year was not given a new deal.

Upside :

There is really not all that much to say when it comes to Keith Aulie, teams will know what they are getting with him, he’s a 7th defenseman. The thing that gives him a leg up when it comes to other players that we have talked about on this list is that he has 167 games of NHL experience. Teams can use him to push their bottom pairing players, because they will always know that there is someone that could take their job.

Teams that could take a chance:

Arizona Coyotes, Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers, New Jersey Devils, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Vancouver Canucks

7. Eric Tangradi
Left Wing -- shoots L
Born Feb 10 1989 -- Philadelphia, PA
[26 yrs. ago]
Height 6.04 -- Weight 221 [193 cm/100 kg]
- round 2 #42 overall 2007 NHL Entry Draft

Former team(s):

Anaheim Ducks (2007-09) Pittsburgh Penguins (2009-13) Winnipeg Jets (2013-14) Montreal Canadiens (2014-15)

History of the player:

Tangradi is a former OHL standout who played for the Belleville Bulls. He has spent most of his pro career adapting his game to bottom six role, something that he had start to accomplish with Winnipeg Jets. His best year came during the 2013-2014 season, with the Winnipeg Jets, where he had career high in games played (55) and goals (3).

Upside :

Much like Keith Aulie there really isn’t much to say about this big winger. Tangradi has shown what his role in the NHL can be, a big bruising force on your fourth line, who can if need be play a third line role on the right team or when injuries set in.

Teams that could take a chance:

Arizona Coyotes, Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers, New York Islanders, San Jose Sharks, St Louis Blues, and Washington Capitals

6. Ryan Stanton
Defense -- shoots L
Born Jul 20 1989 -- St. Albert, ALTA
[25 yrs. ago]
Height 6.02 -- Weight 196 [188 cm/89 kg]

Former Team(s)
Chicago Blackhawks (2010-13) Vancouver Canucks (2013-15)

History of the player:

Ryan Stanton was a veteran WHL defenseman when the Chicago Blackhawks signed him as a free agent in 2010. Stanton would improve is defensive game in Rockford over the next 3 seasons becoming known as a stalwart in his own end. After failing to make the Blackhawks for the 2013-14 season Stanton was claimed off waivers by the Vancouver Canucks, he has played the last 2 seasons there where he has proved to be a solid, if not thrilling, 6th/ 7th defenseman.

Upside :

Stanton is a defenseman that has grown with each season he has played in since his junior days back in Moose Jaw. Now I’m not saying that you could have a top 2 or even top 4 defenseman here, more likely Stanton is a 6th on most NHL blue lines, but you could have a solid number 5 in the next couple of years on a few teams. They say that you don’t know what you have in a defenseman until he has played 250 games in a league. Stanton has played 119 at NHL level, he has 131 more games to prove to the GMs across the NHL he can be more than just a depth guy.

Teams that could take a chance:

Arizona Coyotes, Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, New Jersey Devils, and Pittsburgh Penguins

5. John Moore
Defense -- shoots L
Born Nov 19 1990 -- Winnetka, IL
[24 yrs. ago]
Height 6.03 -- Weight 202 [191 cm/92 kg]
- round 1 #21 overall 2009 NHL Entry Draft

Former Team(s)
Columbus Blue Jackets (2009-13) New York Rangers (2013-2015) Arizona Coyotes (2015)

History of the player:

John Moore played his junior hockey with the Chicago Steel of the USHL and the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL. Moore started his pro career during the 2010-2011 season with the Springfield Falcons where he would play 73 games while scoring 5 goals and adding 19 assets, he also played 2 games with Blue Jackets that year. John has spent the last 4 seasons trying to make himself a NHL regular on three different NHL squads. He has succeeded in a way never playing less the 30 NHL games in any of the last four campaigns.

Upside :

One of the big surprises of this qualifying period was when the Arizona Coyotes didn’t give an offer to Moore. One would have thought that the Coyotes would have wanted to keep every piece that they acquired in the Keith Yandle trade, but I digress. John Moore will never blow you away with his game, it’s not very flashy and he is prone to make the occasional defensive mistake. What John does have going for him is that he will be still only 24 years old when next season starts and he already has 230 games of NHL experience. I promise you this; John Moore will have a NHL contract before next season starts. He is going to be able to fill in as a good 5th or 6th somewhere.

Teams that could take a chance:
Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, New Jersey Devils, Pittsburgh Penguins, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Vancouver Canucks


4. Mark Barberio
Defense -- shoots L
Born Mar 23 1990 -- Montreal, PQ
[25 yrs. ago]
Height 6.01 -- Weight 185 [185 cm/84 kg]
- round 6 #152 overall 2008 NHL Entry Draft.

Former team(s) :
Tampa Bay Lighting (2008-15)

History of the player:

Barberio played for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles and Moncton Wildcats of the QMJHL. His junior career was highlighted in the 2009-2010 season where Barberio put up career highs in all categories, and his team won the QMJHL championship. From 2010 to 2013 Mark played in the AHL winning the league title in 2012 as well as the Eddie Shore trophy as the league’s top defenseman. At the start of the 2013-14 season Barberio made the Lighting out of Camp, this would be his best season to date. The Montreal native would put up 5 goals and 5 assets as well as a +/- 0f +10. Mark played last season as the seventh d-man for the lighting.

Upside :

Some of you are probably a little shocked at my pick of player here… to tell you the truth so was I, but there is something to Barberio’s game that I really like. His game at the AHL level is comparable to Mike Green play style in the NHL in so many ways. So what do I think you have in Barberio? I can’t say. More than likely you have a player that will never amount to much at NHL level, but given the shot I think Mark could surprise a few people. His upside to me is a power play specialist think of a Tomas kaberle type of player.

Teams that could take a chance:
Arizona Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres, Florida Panthers, and Minnesota Wild

3. Mark Arcobello
Forward -- shoots R
Born Aug 12 1988 -- Milford, CT
[26 yrs. ago]
Height 5.09 -- Weight 165 [175 cm/75 kg]

Former team(s):
Edmonton Oilers (2011-14) Nashville Predators (2014-15) Pittsburgh Penguins (2015) Arizona Coyotes (2015)

History of the player :

By far one of the most interesting career paths in the NHL, Arcobello played for 4 different NHL teams last season. Arcobello played 4 seasons for Yale University where he put up over a point per game in his last 2 season. After his university career Mark briefly played in the ECHL before getting signed to an AHL deal by the Oklahoma City Barons in January and by April was singing a deal with the Oilers. Arcobello’s first NHL season was the 2013-14 season, where he put up decent numbers (4g 14a). Last season was a rollercoaster ride for this undersized forward; he would play for 4 different NHL teams while compiling a career high in games played (77) and goals (17).

Upside :

Arcobello skill set has shown that he needs to be in a top six role to succeed. Do I think it’s worth giving him one… ya I guess, but only if it’s on the right team. Arcobello is versatile he can play all 3 forward positions but plays his best hockey as a center. Given the chance I think we could have a center that could put up 35-40 points in a season, not bad for a guy who had to play his way up from the ECHL.
Teams that could take a chance:
Carolina Hurricanes, Los Angeles Kings, Montreal Canadiens, and New Jersey Devils

2. Yannick Weber
Defense -- shoots R
Born Sep 23 1988 -- Morges, Switzerland
[26 yrs. ago]
Height 5.11 -- Weight 200 [180 cm/91 kg]
- round 3 #73 overall 2007 NHL Entry Draft

Former team(s) :
Montreal Canadiens (2007-13) Vancouver Canucks (2013-15)

History of the player :

Weber finally established himself in the NHL last season. Yannick Weber played in the OHL of the Kitchener Rangers from 2006 to 2008. Making the Jump to pro hockey during the 2008-2009 season Weber played for the Hamilton Bulldogs putting up 44 points. After a few more years in the Montreal Canadiens organization Weber was not given a qualifying offer after the 2012-13 season. The Vancouver Canucks would roll the dice on the Yannick, where over the last two seasons; he has cemented himself as a above averaged offensive Defenseman.

Upside :

Yannick Weber was a good fit with Vancouver, so I’m a bit surprised that they didn’t qualify him. Weber has the upside of at number 4 defenseman, which is if everything goes well in his next couple seasons for him. What is great about this defenseman is that he can play Offence while not being horrendous in his own zone.

Teams that could take a chance:
( The Vancouver Canucks have re-signed defenseman Yannick Weber to a one-year, $1.5-million deal, right before I was about to post this blog. )

1. Riley Nash
Center -- shoots R
Born May 9 1989 -- Consort, ALTA
[26 yrs. ago]
Height 6.01 -- Weight 200 [185 cm/91 kg]
- round 1 #21 overall 2007 NHL Entry Draft

Former team(s) :
Edmonton Oilers (2007-10) Carolina Hurricanes (2010-15)

History of the player:

Nash was drafted out of the BCHL while playing for the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. From 2007 to 2010 Riley played Cornell University, where he was able to put up over a point per. On June 26th 2010 Nash was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes. After two and half seasons the former first round pick was able to make it to the NHL for the Hurricanes. Over the last couple of years Riley Nash has become a 25 point guy.

Upside :

Riley Nash is your number one choice for unqualified player list? Yes, because every other player on this list has questions about them. Nash has proven that he can play in this league and put up around 25 points in a year. The best you can hope for is a third line center but as I said in my opening depth what is needed in to today’s NHL and Nash just that.

Team that could take a chance:
Boston Bruins,Columbus Blue Jackets,Los Angeles Kings,New Jersey Devils, and Toronto Maple Leafs


Thank you all for reading
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Filed Under:   NHL   nhl   ufa   rfa  
July 2, 2015 2:21 AM ET | Delete
July 2, 2015 6:20 PM ET | Delete
Very good work.
July 3, 2015 12:58 AM ET | Delete
Thank you
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