Best remaining free agents heading into Day 2

Most of the best players that were available heading into the start of free agency have been scooped up. The New York Rangers were able to land Artemi Panarin, the Florida Panthers managed to snag Sergei Bobrovsky, Anders Lee decided to return to the New York Islanders, Joe Pavelski moved on from San Jose to Dallas, and Tyler Myers decided to join the Vancouver Canucks. But what’s left for the teams that are still looking to make a significant move?

Here’s who’s still available:

Jake Gardiner – D: Gardiner came into free agency as the best puck-moving defenseman available on the market, but either the offers didn’t come in like he would’ve hoped or he just wants to take his time making a decision on his next team. Teams may also be concerned about his back issues. The 28-year-old had three goals and 30 points in 62 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs last season. Don’t be surprised if he earns somewhere between $6 million and $7 million on his next deal.

Marcus Johansson – W: Johansson proved to be a valuable trade deadline acquisition for the Boston Bruins. The 28-year-old put up 13 goals and 30 points in 58 games with New Jersey and Boston. He then added 11 points in 22 games during the Bruins’ run to the Stanley Cup Final. Johansson can play up and down in the lineup, but his injury history may be concerning for some teams.

Ryan Dzingel – W: Dzingel scored 26 goals and 56 points in 78 games with Ottawa and Columbus. 22 of those goals were scored with the Senators, but he had a difficult time adjusting to the Blue Jackets after they acquired him near the trade deadline. The 27-year-old is fast and he can score. The big question is whether or not he can surpass the 25-goal mark again in the near future.

Micheal Ferland – W: Ferland turned down a big extension from the Carolina Hurricanes during the season and it might end up costing him some money in the end. He’s one of the few big bodies on the market that can put the puck in the net. Ferland scored 17 goals and 40 points in 71 games with the ‘Canes in 2018-19.

[ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker]

Ben Hutton – D: Hutton became a free agent after the Vancouver Canucks decided not to give him a qualifying offer this offseason. The 26-year-old played big minutes last season, as he averaged 22:21 of ice time. He could be a quality depth defenseman on the right team.

Patrick Maroon – W: Maroon became a feel-good story for his hometown team, the St. Louis Blues. Not only was he able to win a Stanley Cup this year, he also managed to score some key goals along the way. It appears as though his positive season put him out of St. Louis’ price range, which means he’ll be looking for some added commitment. The 31-year-old scored 10 goals and 28 points in 74 games last season. The fact that he’s a big body means that he’ll probably get decent offers.

Brian Boyle – C: Boyle will provide his next team with size, hockey smarts and a strong veteran presence. He’s also useful as a net-front presence on the power play and he’s also a capable penalty-killer. The 34-year-old has played for five teams over the last three season, but that’s mostly because every team could use a veteran presence like him on their roster.

Derick Brassard – C: Brassard isn’t as much of an offensive threat as he once was, but he can still be a useful depth scorer on a good team. The 31-year-old had 14 goals and just 23 points in 70 games with Colorado, Florida and Pittsburgh last season. He’ll probably have to settle for a short contract with a low AAV this summer.

Justin Williams – W: The 37-year-old was a valuable leader for a young Carolina Hurricanes squad that made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Final. Williams finished the regular season with 23 goals and 53 points in 82 games. The veteran probably wants to return to Carolina, but he’ll likely listen to offers from various teams that have a legitimate shot at winning the Stanley Cup.

Joe Thornton – C: You know all there is to know about Jumbo Joe. He isn’t as much of an offensive force as he once was, but he’s still fully capable of playing a depth role on a competitive team. It’s extremely unlikely that he’ll be willing to go anywhere except San Jose.

Patrick Marleau – W: Marleau was traded from Toronto to Carolina so that he could be bought out last week. It’s no secret that Marleau would like to go back to the San Jose Sharks, but it may be difficult for them to make it work with their current cap situation. The 39-year-old had 16 goals and 37 points in 82 games in 2018-19. Again, he’ll likely be looking to sign with a team that has a legitimate chance of winning it all.

Jason Pominville – W: There’s still a chance that Pominville could end up back with the Buffalo Sabres, but that’s not a given at this point. The 36-year-old had 16 goals and 31 points in 73 games with the Sabres last season. Would he really consider going elsewhere? We’ll find out sooner than later.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

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