Here is my list of the top 10 available unrestricted free agent forwards heading into the July 2011 signing period.
1) Brad Richards: If your team needs a forward, this is the best one available, but it will cost you $7-9 million dollars per season. He is an elite player and I suspect the team that lands him will be the team offering him the longest term. Anything over 4 years is too long at his projected salary range. (UPDATE: signed with the Rangers for 9 years at $6.7M per season, ergo the Rangers gave him longer term in order to get the annual cap hit down.)
2) Alex Tanguay: He is an effective player and a strong addition to any team. He out performed his $1.7 million for 2010 scoring 69 PTS and still has a few quality seasons left in the tank. I'd like to see my favourite team offer him a 3 year $10 million dollar deal. (UPDATE: re-signed in Calgary for 5 years at $3.5M per, a very fair cap hit attained by offering a 5 year term.)
3) Ville Leino: I still don't understand why Detroit let him go. He can expect a substantial raise from the $800K he made last season. Doubtful Philly will retain him. (UPDATE: signed in Buffalo for 6 years at $4.5M per. That's an expensive price to pay. They'll get production, but certainly not at a bargain price.)
4) Erik Cole: His agent should be trying to get a $4 million per year contract, I just don't know if any GM is willing to go that high. He's a proven goal scorer. He could be a valuable addition to a number of teams. (UPDATE: signed with Montreal for 4 years at $4.5M per. That's a fair price.)
5) Jussi Jokinen: At 28 years old this 50 point player will command at least $3.5 million per season, if not more. (UPDATE: re-signed in Carolina before July 1st for 3 years at $3M per, great value signing for the Hurricanes.)
6) Teemu Selanne: He scored 80 PTS last season but at 41 years old how much longer can he keep this up? He loves Anaheim, so I doubt he'd play anywhere else if he decides to continue playing.
7) Scottie Upshall: This is a player I'd love to see sign with my favourite team. Optimal value is 5 years $15 million, but the team that gets him will likely have to sweeten the pot. (UPDATE: signed by Florida for 4 years $14M.)
8) Simon Gagne: I wouldn't pay him a penny more than $4 million per season, but somebody might offer him more than that. He is a player with top end talent, but the frequency of his injuries is a concern if you are making a long term contract offer. (UPDATE: signed with LA for 2 years at $3.5M per. Great signing for the Kings.)
9) Michael Ryder: During these playoffs Ryder has substantially added to his value. His last deal at $4 million per season was too high, so he'll be lucky to get that on his next contract. He won't get any less than $3 mil per season. (UPDATE: signed with Dallas for 2 years at $3.5M per. Fair price.)
10) Sean Bergenheim: This player is getting a substantial pay raise. His $700K in 2010 will be at least tripled on his next contract after his performance in these playoffs. (UPDATE: signed in Florida for 4 years at $2.75M per, more than triple his salary from last year.)