Top 3 Unrestricted Free Agent Forwards

As we get ever closer to the start of free agency, we've been having a look at the top unrestricted names available at each position around the NHL. 

The Top 3 Goaltenders on the market were discussed here; The top trio of defensemen were in focus here; now it's time for a look at the top expected UFA forwards this summer. We'll base it on expected contract projected values.

Tyler Bertuzzi

When Bertuzzi arrived in Boston from the Detroit Red Wings at the trade deadline, he figured he was in line for a run at a Stanley Cup, but that wasn't to be. That, however, doesn't take any of the shine off of Bertuzzi's run with the Bruins, nor his qualifications as a premier winger in this year's class. The top-six forward appears to be in line for a six-year contract at somewhere north of a $5M AAV. 

The 28-year-old produced 16 points in 21 regular season games with the Bruins, and in his first-ever playoff appearance, was one of the best players on the ice for Boston, with five goals and 10 points in seven games.

JT Compher

Another 28-year-old in line for a long-term $5M+ AAV deal, Compher had 52 points and played all 82 games, while providing strength on the defensive side of the puck as well. He started slowly in his 7th season for the Colorado Avalanche, but came on strong through the middle of the season, before finishing with a flameout in the playoffs (2 points in 7 games). 

Nevertheless, he's one of the top centers available in free agency, and should score himself a five-year deal somewhere. 

Michael Bunting

The feisty Toronto Maple Leafs' forward edges out the likes of more accomplished players like Patrick Kane, Ryan O'Reilly and Alex Killorn because of his youth. At 27, Bunting is still on the rise, and several years younger than that trio. He's projected to command a five-year deal at $5M+ AAV, while the others should only be able to fetch around three years in that same price range. 

Bunting tallied 23 goals for the Leafs for the second straight season, though his reputation took a hit a bit in the playoffs after landing himself a three-game suspension for an illegal (and dumb) headshot. 

Photo: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports