In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings we are looking ahead to the potential 2021 unrestricted free agent class.
Not all of these players will make it to the open market — many will be re-signed before then — but all of them are entering the final year of their current contracts and would be eligible to become UFAs next offseason.
There are some significant names on the list, from the NHL’s greatest all-time goal-scorer, to a No. 1 goalie, and a couple of top-line forwards.
Who stands out the most?
To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!
1. Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals. He is one of those players that is going to be re-signed before free agency, because barring some unforeseen, crazy, and insane development you have to think he is a Capital for life. But, he is still entering the final year of that monster 13-year contract (we are all getting so old) and would be a UFA next offseason. Fascinating contract here because he is still the best goal-scorer in hockey but will be 36 years old when his next contract begins. Do the Capitals give him a short-term blank check?
2. Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche. His contract has been a steal for the Avalanche. Among players that have a realistic shot of reaching free agency (meaning: Not Alex Ovechkin) he should be the most sought after player given his talent, age, and production. Do the Avalanche have enough cap space to keep him?
3. Dougie Hamilton, Carolina Hurricanes. Had he not been injured this season he would have had a great case for the Norris Trophy. Like Landeskog, his current contract is a steal that he has wildly outperformed.
4. Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins. No idea what Rask’s long-term future is or what is plans are, but he is still an elite goalie that would make any team better.
5. Taylor Hall, Buffalo Sabres. This year’s free agent market did not turn out as expected given the … well … everything going on right now. (*gestures at the world*). So Hall is taking a one-year gamble in Buffalo in the hopes that next offseason is better. He should have a great year playing next to Jack Eichel.
6. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers. Nugent-Hopkins does not get a ton of recognition because he is a No. 1 overall pick that has not turned into a superstar. Even so, he is still a very good, very productive top-line player.
[MORE: PHT’s 2020 NHL Free Agency Tracker]
7. Tomas Tatar, Montreal Canadiens. One of the most underrated players in the league. Drives possession and helps dictate the pace of play and you can pencil him in for close to 25 goals and 50 points at the start of each season.
8. David Krejci, Boston Bruins. Playing on a team that has had so many great players over the years has made it easy for Krejci to get overlooked, but he’s been a huge part of the Bruins’ success for more than a decade. Biggest concern with him as a UFA is his age (35 next April).
9. Blake Coleman, Tampa Bay Lightning. Feel like his stock could skyrocket over the next year playing in Tampa. An outstanding defensive forward that will also score you 20 goals. Huge value to that. His addition to the Lightning roster was a game-changer this season.
10. Jaden Schwartz, St. Louis Blues. He bounced back in a big way after a down 2018-19 performance offensively. Strong two-way, possession driving player with top-six scoring ability.
11. Kyle Palmieri, New Jersey Devils. A bright spot in New Jersey over the past few years. Palmieri has scored at a 30-goal pace per 82 games since joining the Devils.
12. Brandon Saad, Colorado Avalanche. Saad never really became the star he seemed to be destined for early in his career, but he has some finishing ability and could be in line for a huge contract year playing on a stacked Avalanche team.
13. Frederik Andersen, Toronto Maple Leafs. Very durable goalie that has consistently produced at a better than league average rate for goalies. He needs to have a bounce-back season this year.
14. Jordan Binnington, St. Louis Blues. Binnington is very difficult to rate at this point. It is still such a small sampling of games and there has been such a wide range to his performance. We have seen him be excellent, we have seen him be average, we have seen him struggle (like in the playoffs). This season will go a long way toward determining his value.
15. Tyson Barrie, Edmonton Oilers. This did not go as planned in Toronto but he gets to play a one-year “prove it” contract in Edmonton where he should get big minutes on the best power play unit in the league. That is good news for him.
16. Antti Raanta, Arizona Coyotes. His performance when healthy would put him higher on this list, because he can be excellent. But injuries have been an issue.
[MORE: NHL Offseason Trade Tracker]
17. Nikita Gusev, New Jersey Devils. Based on what we saw from him this year he could easily work his way up this ranking. He is still a bit of a mystery at this point since we have only seen him for one year in the NHL.
18. Eric Staal, Buffalo Sabres. Going to Minnesota gave his career a jumpstart the past few years, and he should help improve Buffalo’s lineup this season.
19. Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks. Not a franchise player any longer and closer to the end of his career than his prime, but he is still a productive playmaker.
20. Paul Stastny, Winnipeg Jets. A lot of this will depend on what his 2020-21 season looks like. Still a very good player, but he will be 36 in the first year of his next contract.
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.