Teams can’t officially sign free agents until noon ET, but there are already heavy favorites for four of the top free agent forwards.
According to TSN hockey insider Darren Dreger, “early expectations” are that Milan Lucic (Los Angeles) will head to Edmonton, Frans Nielsen (NY Islanders) will go to Detroit, Andrew Ladd (Blackhawks) will go to the Islanders and Loui Eriksson (Bruins) will go to the Canucks.
Lucic to Edmonton has been talked about extensively for the last week and it seemed to become a forgone conclusion after the Oilers traded Taylor Hall to New Jersey. Should Lucic in fact chose to continue his career in Edmonton, he’ll add some serious size and grit to their top-two lines.
Frans Nielsen is one of the best two-way centers on the market. He’s solid in his own end, but he’s also been able to put up a respectable amount of points in the last couple of seasons. With the departure of Pavel Datsyuk and Brad Richards, it’s no surprise that the Red Wings are looking to add quality down the middle.
The Islanders are set to lose Nielsen and Kyle Okposo today. Those players have been two of New York’s key contributors over the last few years, so it’s easy to see why they’re trying to add Ladd. The 30-year-old has scored 20 goals or more in five of the last six seasons and the only year he didn’t hit that mark was during the lockout-shortened season (he had 18 in 48 games).
The Vancouver Canucks had a terrible 2015-16 season. If they can land Loui Eriksson, that would be a huge get for them. It seems natural to expect him to lineup with fellow Swedes Henrik and Daniel Sedin on the Canucks’ top line when October comes around. We’ll see if Jim Benning can get this one done.