Well over 90 percent of NHL teams’ cap dollars are said to have already been spent, and there are still pages and pages of unrestricted free agents to sort through on any reasonably thorough free-agent tracker.
Suffice to say, teams still mining for talent to fill out their rosters for the 2020-21 season are in an advantageous position now almost two weeks into the frenzy. This is while the few hundred players still looking for an employer are without a modicum of leverage in the flat-cap world we find ourselves in amid a pandemic.
Here are the best players still available, the majority of which will be signed well below their normal market value.
Mike Hoffman, F, Florida Panthers
Arguably the best pure goal scorer on the market this
summer offseason, it’s a little difficult to understand why Hoffman hasn’t been scooped up yet — even when considering his red flags. Hoffman’s agent recently told TSN that there are a handful of suitors with “serious interest,” and indicated that a piece might have to be moved out before Hoffman finally signs his deal. There was an initial rush to sign deals for obvious reasons, but now that things have settled, and since Hoffman has established himself as the No.1 free agent remaining on the board, it seems patience could work in his favour.
Anthony Duclair, F, Ottawa Senators
Duclair made the questionable decision of navigating these uncharted waters on his own, eschewing the expertise of official representation. The offseason marked the third time in Duclair’s career that he failed to receive a qualifying offer, which seems to say a lot about him as a player. Yes, he offers something of serious value, but teams have been reluctant to pay that premium. It seems now is the chance for teams searching for depth scoring to welcome Duclair into the fold on a deal that carries with it minimal risk.
Mikael Granlund, F, Nashville Predators
Granlund’s value has plummeted since his trade one-and-a-half seasons ago from the Minnesota Wild. His production was incredibility disappointing in 79 games with the Predators, and his influence from a two-way perspective was not what it once was, either. That said, Granlund is a versatile, low-maintenance forward and could be an extremely useful asset on a discount salary if slotted correctly on a team looking for utility in the middle six.
Erik Haula, F, Florida Panthers
Haula’s season was far from ideal. He dealt with injuries and was forced to adapt to new surroundings on two occasions after being part of a pair of trades over an eight-month span. Still, it seemed like he was in a really strong position entering free agency as arguably the top option at the centre position. Perhaps that has factored into the delay on Haula signing, as suitors balance the shortage of options with Haula’s limitations as simply a solid bottom-six centre.
Carl Soderberg, F, Arizona Coyotes
Aside from one outlying season a few years ago, Soderberg has been a consistently solid source of secondary production from his depth capacities. Contributing a half-point per game for one of the most offensively inept teams last season, Soderberg remains a useful option for teams still looking to add depth. The price should be right.
Corey Perry, F, Dallas Stars
Perry didn’t have a terribly productive season, but his value seemed to come to the fore in the Stars’ run to the Stanley Cup Final. The expectation should be that he signs a cheap deal with a contender.
IIya Kovalchuk, F, Washington Capitals
It wasn’t nearly as fun as advertised when Kovalchuk linked up with Alexander Ovechkin in Washington after resuscitating his value across a 22-game run with the Montreal Canadiens. Fit seems to be the most important thing for Kovalchuk at this point in his career, and it’s a bit surprising that Montreal did not circle back on the legendary scorer.
Zdeno Chara, D, Boston Bruins
It’s most likely the Bruins or nothing, which is why he was a toss up to be included on this list. But what a story it would be if the Bruins captain was lured elsewhere.
Travis Hamonic, D, Calgary Flames
It probably says something that the Flames seem content with letting Hamonic walking after failing to retain T.J. Brodie in free agency. He followed up one of his best seasons in 2018-19 with a really poor third regular season with the Flames, and did not join his teammates in the bubble. There’s a third pairing out there with which he could softly land, because at this point Hamonic is probably without plus top-four ability.
Andy Greene, D, New York Islanders
Perhaps the Devon Toews trade opens the door for Greene to return to the Islanders, who he was serviceable for in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Sami Vatanen, D, New Jersey Devils
Vatanen didn’t do anything particularly well in his three-season run in New Jersey. He had trouble staying healthy, failed to produce at a high rate against his usage, and was mostly caved in at even strength. He’ll bring value on a cheap deal in a sheltered role, but prospective buyers must know not to ask too much of him at this point in his career.
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