In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings we check in with the best free agent signings that we have seen so far this offseason around the league.
We tried to take into account the contract, the salary cap hit, the expected level of production, as well as the long-term risk with each deal. The latter point might drop a good player right now a little further down the rankings, because that risk definitely matters in the future. Just because a player is good right now does not mean you are going to be getting that same player in a year or two.
Rankings include signings through Monday morning. We are also only looking at unrestricted free agent signings. No restricted free agents are included.
Who all makes the cut?
To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!
1. Taylor Hall, Buffalo Sabres. A total stunner. Hall gets reunited with a coach he likes, gets to play next to Jack Eichel (probably), and the Sabres get an impact player with (as of now) little long-term risk. [Link to signing]
***Update*** Alex Pietrangelo signed after initial publication. This is an update.
2. Alex Pietrangelo, Vegas Golden Knights. Look, a seven-year contract for a 31-year-old is a risk. But Pietrangelo is an elite defender and should be a high-level player for several years. Maybe he doesn’t play seven years in Vegas. Maybe he rapidly declines toward the end. But if he is the missing piece for a Stanley Cup in Vegas (and he could be!) then no one will care.
3. Craig Smith, Boston Bruins. This is my favorite long-term contract handed out by any team. Not sure how the Bruins got him for just a little over $3 million per year, but Smith is a perfect complement to their top forwards. He is going to score 20-25 goals, drive possession, and just be a rock solid addition. Great signing. [Link to signing]
***Update*** Tyler Toffoli also signed after initial publication. This is an update.
4. Tyler Toffoli, Montreal Canadiens. This is a great pickup for the Canadiens. Toffoli is an outstanding all-around player that can make an impact offensively and defensively. He also probably signed for less than originally expected at the start of the offseason and the four-year term is very team-friendly for a player of his age and ability.
5. Henrik Lundqvist, Washington Capitals. This just seems like a perfect fit. The Capitals get a solid veteran goalie to team up with Ilya Samsonov and Lundqvist gets another chance to chase a Stanley Cup on a contender. You are going to get an extremely motivated Lundqvist on a ridiculously cap-friendly contract. With virtually no risk long-term and a cheap cap hit short-term it is a huge win. [Link to signing]
6. Torey Krug, St. Louis Blues. The term worries me a little bit for the second half of this contract, but not enough to drop him too far down the rankings. Will he completely replace Alex Pietrangelo? No, probably not. But he is still a heck of a player. [Link to signing]
7. T.J. Brodie, Toronto Maple Leafs. A very strong addition to the Maple Leafs’ blue line, and exactly what they needed. Solid, dependable defender that did not require them to give up anything in return and does not carry a terrible contract. [Link to signing]
8. Anton Khudobin, Dallas Stars. Technically a re-signing, but Khudobin still ended up hitting the open market very briefly before returning to Dallas. He has been outstanding in the Dallas net for two years and helps form an elite goalie duo alongside Ben Bishop. [Link to signing]
9. Tyson Barrie, Edmonton Oilers. A one-year prove-it deal that could pay off in a big way for him and the Oilers. Virtually no risk here for Edmonton with a potentially high reward. He is going to score a ton on that power play. [Link to signing]
11. Braden Holtby, Vancouver Canucks. He has not been the same player for a few years now, but I also don’t believe he was as bad as his 2019-20 numbers indicate. The Canucks didn’t overpay and they didn’t commit too many years. Solid signing. [Link to signing]
12. Thomas Greiss, Detroit Red Wings. He has very quietly put together an outstanding career for himself, consistently finishing with above average performances across the board. The Red Wings needed a goalie, and they picked up a very good one at a fair price. [Link to signing]
13. Cam Talbot, Minnesota Wild. An average NHL goalie signed to an average NHL goalie contract. Not a franchise-changer. But also not something that is going to set the franchise back if it fails. The latter point matters when it comes to the next guy…
14. Jacob Markstrom, Calgary Flames. Here’s the thing with Markstrom — I think I like him right now at $6 million per year and think that is fair for the 2020-21 season based on the player he is and what he has done. I do not like him three or four years from now at $6 million per year. That sort of contract for a 30-year-old free agent goalie would scare me and could cause a lot of problems down the line. [Link to signing]
15. Kevin Shattenkirk, Anaheim Ducks. He had a great bounce-back year in Tampa Bay and turned it into a nice multi-year deal for himself with the Ducks. He is a very good player that simply could not meet unrealistic expectations in some of his previous stops (Washington, New York). [Link to signing]
16. Jesper Fast, Carolina Hurricanes. Good depth move at a fair price for a contender that mostly just needs a few tweaks around the edges.
17. Mikko Koivu, Columbus Blue Jackets. He is not going to make a huge impact offensively, but Koivu is still a good defensive center that is going to improve their depth down the middle (along with the addition of Max Domi).
18. Wayne Simmonds, Toronto Maple Leafs. Kyle Dubas remarked about finding some players that are “tougher to play against,” and if you are going to go down that route Simmonds is a pretty good place to start. He is no longer a top-line, impact player, but the Maple Leafs aren’t paying him to be that either. [Link to signing]
19. Bobby Ryan, Detroit Red Wings. Am very curious to see what Ryan is going to do here with this opportunity. The Red Wings got him for basically nothing against the cap and you know he is going to be eager to show he can still contribute in the NHL. [Link to signing]
20. Kyle Turris, Edmonton Oilers. Another very good signing by Edmonton. Turris did not work out as expected in Nashville, but in a lesser role behind Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl there is some value to be squeezed out here on a cheap contract.
21. Vladislav Namestnikov, Detroit Red Wings. Steve Yzerman made a lot of really smart signings on the first weekend of free agency, and this was one of them. He found some quality veterans on short-term deals that can be flipped at the deadline. [Link to signing]
23. Justin Schultz, Washington Capitals. Injuries have been a huge issue the past three years, and if he is not putting up offense he is not really contributing much. And this past season his offense largely disappeared while playing on a team loaded with All-Star forwards. Not an encouraging sign. [Link to signing]
24. Chris Tanev, Calgary Flames. This contract would have looked a lot better four years ago. Tanev is probably on the downside of his career.