The Biggest Names on the NHL Free Agent Market
Host Logan Bourandas and analysts Jacob Cheris, Jordan Hession and Drew Prokop look ahead at some of the biggest names set to hit the free agency market in the NHL.
Normally, we would be talking about how crazy the first week of the 2020-21 NHL season went, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tampa Bay Lightning just won the Stanley Cup in September. Now we are focused on the business side of the league. Free agency opens on Friday, Oct. 9. Here are some of the biggest names on the market right now.
Henrik Lundqvist, Goaltender
Lundqvist had the final year of his contract bought out by the New York Rangers last Tuesday. The 38-year-old netminder spent his entire career with the Rangers, but with the emergence of Russian netminder Igor Shesterkin, it was inevitable that Lundqvist’s time in New York was done.
Lundqvist ranks sixth in NHL history in wins (459) and is a future Hall of Famer. Lundqvist took the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Final in 2014 and won the Vezina Trophy in 2012 as the league’s best goaltender. The Washington Capitals are the most likely candidate for Lundqvist to sign with because they are looking for an experienced goaltender to backup Ilya Samsonov.
Braden Holtby, Goaltender
Holtby had the worst season of his career with a .897 save percentage and a 3.11 goals-against average. Having previously been paid $6.1 million for five years, Holtby was expected to get a big pay raise, but now that is very unlikely. Another reason why Washington won’t re-sign Holtby is because it will interfere with the development of Samsonov, and the Capitals have to focus on re-signing Alex Ovechkin next season.
Holtby won the Stanley Cup in 2018 and the Vezina Trophy in 2016. He is also a five-time All-Star. Holtby’s likely destinations are the Edmonton Oilers or the Minnesota Wild. The Wild are searching for a number one goaltender after they traded Devan Dubynk to the San Jose Sharks. Minnesota has $8 million in cap space right now.
Alex Pietrangelo, Defenseman
Contract talks between the Blues and Pietrangelo aren’t going well, even though Pietrangelo led the Blues to the Stanley Cup in 2019 and put up 52 points (16 goals, 36 assists) this season. The Philadelphia Flyers are one team that is interested in Pietrangelo. They need a top-four defenseman after Matt Niskanen retired on Monday.
Pietrangelo is only 30 and seems to be looking for a raise. His previous cap was $6.5 million, and a team with a lot of cap space, like the Winnipeg Jets, could also draw interest.
Torey Krug, Defenseman
Krug was offered a six-year contract worth $6.5 million per season by the Bruins. He declined that offer. The 29-year-old defenseman had 49 points (nine goals, 40 assists) this season. He’s an excellent puck-moving defenseman and is looking for a long-term contract with big money.
Possible destinations for Krug are the Detroit Red Wings and the Florida Panthers. Detroit needs help at every position and has a lot of cap space, while Florida could use more help on defense.
Taylor Hall, Forward
Hall is the best player on the market. Despite being on bad teams like the New Jersey Devils and the Arizona Coyotes, he still managed to put up 52 points.
It is rumored that the former Hart Trophy winner wants to sign a short-term deal with a Stanley Cup contender. If this is the case, then the Colorado Avalanche are the perfect fit for him. The Avalanche have $22 million in cap space right now, so they have the money to give Hall the payday he deserves. If the Avalanche sign Hall, they are going to be a very fast and dangerous team.
Mike Hoffman, Forward
A lot of teams should be looking at Hoffman, one of the most consistent players in the NHL. He consistently scores 20 goals per season no matter where he plays, netting 29 in 2019-2020.
If Florida does not re-sign Hoffman, a likely destination would be either the New York Islanders or the Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens are in desperate need of a top-six winger, and New York needs more scoring in its lineup. But first, New York needs to focus on re-signing Mathew Barzal. That could open the door for Montreal.
Jacob Cheris is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.