Early look at the top five UFAs

Top UFA Torey Krug

 

July first marks the day where any player with an expired contract can choose his new home for a select number of years.

That’s right, the beginning of free agency was supposed to take place today. Normally the first day of free agency is when the majority of players sign their new contracts.

There have been a lot of notable signings’ on day one of free agency over the last few years. Last year saw Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky leave Columbus. 2018 was when John Tavares left the Islanders and 2017 saw Kevin Shattenkirk head to the Rangers. The list goes on and on.

This year, however, all pending unrestricted free agents are still under contract and will not become UFAs until the season is over. The date for free agents to sign new deals is yet to be determined.

This year’s class has a lot of intriguing names, but for the time being here are five of the top names who could find themselves wearing a different sweater for next season.

Alex Pietrangelo

The current St. Louis Blues captain is in an interesting position. From Pietrangelo’s perspective, he should be looking to cash in. A right-handed defenseman, a Stanley Cup Champion, and a well-respected vet in the locker room. 

Pietrangelo’s last deal saw a $6.5 million AAV and with the way right-handed defenseman are being paid these days that number isn’t going to be near enough. Blues GM Doug Armstrong is consistent in saying that resigning Pietrangelo is a top of their to-do list. 

That is going to be a tough task given the fact that the Blues are projected to have just over $2 million heading into free agency. Blues fans would love to see Pietrangelo spend the next chunk of his career in St. Louis but how realistic is it. Everything always boils down to the dollar and if Armstrong doesn’t pull a rabbit out of a hat then the Blues might be naming a new captain next season.

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Torey Krug

Krug is one of the league’s best offensive defenseman. He put up five straight seasons of at least 40 assists. His talents do not go unnoticed. You may also remember Krug as the guy who absolutely demolished Blues forward Rob Thomas during the Stanley Cup Playoffs last year. 

Krug is currently making $5.25 million. His next contract should come with a hefty raise. At the bare minimum, his next contract should sit somewhere between a $7-8 million AAV with the possibility of hitting $9 million annually. 

It has been made very clear that Krug would love to stay in Boston. Heck, he even has a dog named Fenway.  I can’t imagine a scenario in where Krug leaves the Bruins but if they can’t come to an agreement on money then I know for a fact he will get the amount that he wants elsewhere. Because every owner and their grandma should want to sign Torey Krug.

Taylor Hall

For the first time in his NHL career, Taylor Hall is going to be able to choose where he wants to play, he sure does have a tough decision ahead as he will have many options. Hall has spent ten years in the league and has played in a whopping one playoff series. In that series, he put up six points in five games.

His numbers have slowed in his short stint with the Coyotes. However, he said that he has remained open to staying in the desert. Hall without a doubt will look to cash in this off-season and don’t be surprised if the number is north of 9 million.

There are a handful of teams that Hall probably has on his radar, and likewise, there are a handful of teams trying to get Hall’s services. Regardless Taylor Hall will be getting paid handsomely when the free agency window rolls around.

Braden Holtby

Holtby is the top goaltender set to hit the free-agent market. Holtby has won a Stanley Cup, a Vezina trophy, and has made two all-star appearances. Normally goalies with that track record don’t usually hit free agency.

However, the play of young Russian Ilya Samsonov has given the Capitals a tough decision to make when it comes to the goalie position. The Caps have a handful of cap space that they would need to play around with if they want to extend Holtby.

It also comes down to what does Holtby wants. If he believes he can still be a true number one goalie then he should look to go somewhere where he would be treated as such. Because if he were to stay with Washington it would be more of a 1A and 1B situation as opposed to being true number one. If Holtby wants to be a team’s number one it sure isn’t going to be in Washington.

 

Evgenii Dadonov

Evgenii Dadonov has to be one of the most slept on players in the NHL. In his three years with the Florida Panthers after returning from the KHL, Dadonov has put up 182 points in 225 games. Dadonov has been a 25 goal scorer in all three seasons with the Panthers

He is 31 years of age and is set to get a hefty raise. In his current contract Dadonov cap hit is $4 million flat. It would make plenty of sense for the Panthers to try and resign him. They have plenty of cap space and they could definitely use Dadonovs talent. 

However, Dadonov being in his early 30s now has the choice to try and sign with a cup contender. It is apparent that the Panthers are still a few years away from being serious threats in the Eastern Conference. I would expect there to be a long list of teams trying to get Dadonov’s services. If the right match comes along the Russian winger could see his way out of the Sunshine State.

There you have it. My top picks for players you should watch the free agency. Do you agree with this list? Who do you think signs the biggest deal this off-season? Let us know in the comments below.

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