The 2021 NHL Offseason is underway as the Tampa Bay Lightning were crowned Stanley Cup Champions for the second year in a row. Rumours are starting to pick up as the Seattle Expansion Draft and NHL Draft draw near. But one of the most exciting days on the calendar along with the trade deadline is the start of NHL free agency. This year it begins on July 28 at noon ET and there are plenty of big-name players expected to hit the market. Teams with salary-cap space will look to add a name or two to make improvements to make a run a Lord Stanley Cup next season. Time to dive into the Top 10 NHL free agents this off-season.
Here are the Top 10 NHL Free Agents this offseason
1) Alex Ovechkin
There are a lot of things that are given in life and one of them is Alex Ovechkin being a Washington Capital for the rest of his life. It is just a matter of how much money and how long the term will be. Ovechkin will be 35 years old coming off a 13 year, $124 million contract with the Capitals. He has done everything possible in the NHL as he pursues Wayne Gretzky‘s goal record. It is just a matter of time before the contract gets done. He is a free agent so he has to be atop the list. There is a possibility of him going back to Russia, but all signs point to him signing with Washington.
2) Dougie Hamilton
The biggest name amongst free agent defenceman is Dougie Hamilton. Hamilton is coming off back-to-back sensational seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes. He is coming off a six-year, $34.5 million contract and will be demanding a raise. Most likely Hamilton will be looking for somewhere in the $8.5 million range a season. Hamilton is a very skilled offensive player and is one of only a handful of players that can be called a legit top-pairing defenceman in the league. Since Carolina has given him permission to talk to other teams, there is a high probability he is going to another team when free agency opens.
3) Taylor Hall
Once again Taylor Hall makes it into the Top 10 for NHL free agents this offseason. Last year he signed a one-year deal with the Buffalo Sabres before being traded to the Boston Bruins. Hall found success with the Bruins. And there is talk he could re-sign there if the opportunity arrives. However, the Bruins have several free agents they will want to sign as well. Even if the fit is there with Boston, Hall will have other options. The question will be, does he take another one-year deal until the salary cap rises again or sign a longer-term deal to have some security. This is a player to keep an eye on.
4) Gabriel Landeskog
Another player to keep an eye on is Gabriel Landeskog of the Colorado Avalanche. The captain of the Avalanche will have options if he decides to go to market. But do not be surprised to see the Avalanche and Landeskog get something done. He is a crucial piece to the Avalanche success especially that top line. While several teams are interested, Landeskog has the best chance to win in Colorado. The question will be for how much. You got to figure his next contract will be over the $7 million mark.
5) Zach Hyman
Here is a player who nobody expected to hit the open market in Zach Hyman. There is a lot of talk of the Maple Leafs and Hyman not being on the same page. And that would be a real shame. However, if Hyman does hit the open market he will be a massive asset to the team getting him for the way he plays the game. But it begs to question if both parties want to get something done and it can’t get done, will the team signing Hyman get a fully invested Zach Hyman or will his heart still be in Toronto. Considering the salary cap and what Hyman is expected to get in order to get him, the Maple Leafs will have to move a player or two to keep him.
6) Tuukka Rask
Tuukka Rask is an interesting case heading into the offseason. Rask is expected to have offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip that he hurt during the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs. While he is expected to make a full recovery, he will not be back in the lineup until January. And despite his relationship with the fan base in Boston, Rask wants to remain with the Bruins. We know Jaroslav Halak is pretty much gone with the emergence of Jeremy Swayman. It all depends on the term the Bruins want to give him. But until Rask gets back it is Swayman’s net.
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7) David Krejci
The third Bruins player appearing on this list is David Krejci. Thanks to the Bruins getting Taylor Hall at the deadline, Krejci had a resurgence in his career. And despite his age of 35, Krejci is still an effective player. This issue is going to be term and money. We know what the salary cap says about players over 35 and their cap hits. The Bruins need to be careful about how much they give him. Considering they do not have many options inside the organization, Krejci could go back to Boston on a one-year deal.
8) Blake Coleman
Blake Coleman is coming off back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He has shown to be an effective third-line player with a winning organization with the knack of finding the back of the net. He was leading the Devils in goals before he was traded to Tampa in 2020. While his role changed, he can provide the toughness needed for a playoff calibre team to get over the top. Coleman will have a lot of suitors including his hometown team the Dallas Stars and a possible reunion with the Devils.
9) Philipp Grubauer
The Colorado Avalanche are a piece or two away from winning the Stanley Cup. And their number one goalie is going to market. The question for the organization is, do they believe he is the number one. Phillip Grubauer is coming off a career year posting a 30-9-1 record with a 1.95 goals-against average and .922 save percentage. He was nominated for the Vezina Trophy and finished third in the voting. If the Avalanche do not re-sign him, he will not have a problem finding work.
10) Brandon Saad
Another Avalanche player cracking the top 10 is Brandon Saad. Prior to the 2020-21 season, the Avalanche traded for Saad in hopes of making a deep run and winning a Stanley Cup. That did not happen. In 44 games this season, he recorded 15 goals. He also contributed seven goals in 10 playoff games for Colorado this season. Unfortunately, the Avalanche cannot keep everyone, especially with Landeskog and Grubauer also being free agents. However, Saad should find work on another contending team. He is a depth player best used in a second-line role.
Keep locked into Full Press NHL as the NHL offseason gets underway for the latest trades and free-agent signings.