NHL Power Rankings: Looking at the potential 2021 free agents

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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.

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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 phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Teravainen scores late, Hurricanes rally to beat Rangers 3-2

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NEW YORK – Teuvo Teravainen scored the tiebreaking goal late in the third period, Frederik Andersen stopped 29 shots and the Carolina Hurricanes rallied to beat the New York Rangers 3-2.

Jalen Chatfield and Stefan Noesen also scored for the Metropolitan Division-leading Hurricanes, who won for the third time in four games.

With the comeback win, the Hurricanes became the second team – following Boston – to reach the 100-point mark this season as Carolina increased its Metropolitan Division-lead over second-place New Jersey to two points and the third-place Rangers to eight.

“That was a great effort. All 20 guys contributed and we got what we deserved,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “If we play like that, we’ll be in good shape. This time of year it gets tougher and tougher.”

Tyler Motte and Kaapo Kakko scored for the Rangers, who had won four straight were 6-0-1 in their last seven. Igor Shesterkin finished with 36 saves as the Rangers played their third game in four nights – the previous two shutout wins at home.

“Igor kept us in there as long as he could and we just didn’t have enough in the tank,” Rangers captain Jacob Trouba said. ”They won more battles and played a hard game.”

Teravainen scored his 11th goal with 2:33 left on a pass from defenseman Brent Burns, redirecting the puck past Shesterkin. The Hurricanes, who trailed 1-0 and 2-1.

“Somehow they left me open in the back side, great pass by him,” Teravainen said of the winning-goal pass to him in the slot. “We knew this would be a tough night. They have a good team. We knew we had to battle to win this game.”

The Rangers led 1-0 entering the third and were vying for their third-straight shutout before Chatfield tied the score at 9:49 – the first goal the Rangers allowed in more than eight periods. New York was coming off a 6-0 win over Pittsburgh on Saturday night with Shesterkin in goal and a 7-0 triumph over Nashville behind Jaroslav Halak on Sunday.

Kakko then put New York back ahead 31 seconds later with his 13th goal, only to have Noesen answer right back 18 seconds later to tie it 2-2.

Motte opened the scoring at the 17-minute mark of the first, knocking the puck past Andersen for his third goal in four games and sixth of the season overall.

The Rangers hadn’t lost in regulation since a 4-2 defeat on March 4 at Boston.

“Tonight we didn’t play near well enough to beat that team,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. ”Honestly, the whole game they outplayed us. They were a lot quicker. They managed the puck real well … We didn’t play our game.”


Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal played his 729th game with Carolina on Tuesday, tying defenseman Glen Wesley for the second-most games played in franchise history since relocation from Hartford in 1997. Staal, 34, trails only his brother Eric, who played 909 games for the Hurricanes from 2003-16.


Hurricanes: Host the Rangers on Thursday night to finish the home-and-home set in the opener of a four-game homestand.

Rangers: At Carolina on Thursday night to open a two-game trip.

Ullmark’s 40 saves carries Bruins past Senators, 2-1

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BOSTON – Linus Ullmark made 40 saves, Jake DeBrusk had the go-ahead goal and the NHL-best Boston Bruins continued their pursuit of the league’s record for regular-season victories with a 2-1 win over the Ottawa Senators.

“I thought he was outstanding and he needed to be,” Boston coach Jim Montgomery said of Ullmark. “Unfortunately we gave up a lot of good looks, a lot of odd-man rushes because of our puck management and he bailed us out like he has all year.”

David Krejci added a power-play goal for Boston, which won its fourth straight.

Dylan Gambrell scored for the Senators and Mads Sogaard made 33 stops.

“We had a shooters’ mentality for two periods,” Ottawa coach D.J. Smith said. “The third period, they’ve won 54 games now, they’re not going to give you an odd-man rush, they’re not going to give you anything. You’re going to have to earn it.”

The Bruins posted their 54th win and with 12 games left are on pace to break the mark of 62, set by the Detroit Red Wings in 1995-96 and matched by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2018-19.

Chasing the Eastern Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot, Ottawa has lost six of seven following a season-high, five-game winning streak.

Coming off a 3-2 road trip where they won the last three games by a combined score of 15-2 that included two shutouts by backup Jeremy Swayman, the Bruins converted on a two-man, power-play advantage to tie the game at 1 midway into the opening period when Krejci poked in a rebound from the edge of the crease.

DeBrusk completed a nifty play with Brad Marchand when he collected a pass cutting down the slot at full speed, shifted and tucked a rebound past Sogaard at 15:52 of the first period for his 23rd goal.

“It was ‘all world.’ I saw him and he fed it through a lot of guys for a breakaway,” DeBrusk said of the pass. “It was one of those passes where I didn’t know what to do. I was going to point at him (after) but I was going too fast.”

Gambrell’s wraparound score gave Ottawa a 1-0 edge.

“I thought I played a good game today,” Sogaard said. “I just battled and stayed with it the entire way. … These ones are tough because we were so close.”


Ullmark stopped 22 shots in the second period with at least a dozen of them high-quality chances. During an Ottawa PP, he jumped from a crouch to make a right-shoulder stop on Alex DeBrincat’s bid from in close.

“We talked about it,” defenseman Hampus Lindholm said of the second period. “We know we’re a good team in the third and wanted to tighten it up for him. … They got a lot of chances that were our own fault in the second.”


The Bruins highlighted women who work and compete in the sports community, having Olympic gold medalist and Boston Pride defender Kali Flanagan accompany Bruins players during pregame walk-ins along with local high school scholastic award winners. In addition, in-arena host Michaela Johnson handled the PA for the night and they also left yellow roses at the seats of female reporters.

NOTES: The Senators entered the game as the only team holding an advantage in their series against the Bruins this season, winning twice in three games. … Montgomery said after the morning skate that defenseman Derek Forbort would likely be sidelined with a lower-body injury at least through the rest of the regular season. … DeBrusk, playing on the top line most of the season, is four off his career-high goal total, set in 2018-19.


Senators: Host Tampa Bay on Thursday.

Bruins: Host longtime rival Montreal in an Original Six matchup Thursday.

Boldy’s goal with 1.3 left in OT lifts Wild over Devils

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NEWARK, N.J. – Matt Boldy scored with 1.3 seconds left in overtime and Filip Gustavsson made a career-high 47 saves to give the Minnesota Wild a 2-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils.

The game was a chippy, defensive struggle. After two scoreless periods, the Devils were outshooting the Wild 22-19.

Minnesota finally broke through 6:41 into the third when Mason Shaw scored his seventh goal of the season on a wraparound.

Timo Meier answered for the Devils five minutes later with his 35th goal of the season on a wraparound of his own.

New Jersey was unable to convert on a late power play, and the teams went to overtime.

It was a back-and-forth five minutes of extra hockey, with both goaltenders making good saves. After Jack Hughes hit the post for the Devils, the puck caromed off a post to Boldy and he beat the buzzer with his 23rd goal of the season.

Vitek Vanecek stopped 27 shots for New Jersey.

NOTES: The Devils are 10-4 in overtime, while the Wild improved to 4-5.


Wild: Play at Philadelphia on Thursday night.

Devils: Play at Buffalo on Friday night.

Avalanche coach Jared Bednar signs extension through 2026-27

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DENVER — Colorado Avalanche coach Jared Bednar has signed a three-year extension that will keep him in charge of the reigning Stanley Cup champions through the 2026-27 season.

The new deal for the winningest head coach in club history kicks in once the current contract runs out after the 2023-24 season.

Bednar, 51, is the only person to win championships in the ECHL, AHL and NHL as head coach. He directed the Avalanche to their third Stanley Cup title in team history last season by beating Tampa Bay, the two-time defending champions.

This season, the Avalanche have dealt with an array of injuries, which include missing captain Gabriel Landeskog all year after he underwent knee surgery in October. But they’re starting to creep closer to being healthy – and working their way up the standings. Colorado is riding a six-game winning streak to remain in a tight race with Dallas and Minnesota for the Central Division crown. The top spot in the Western Conference is in play, too.

“Jared has done a tremendous job behind the bench and certainly deserves this extension and to continue as the leader of our team,” Joe Sakic, the team’s president of hockey operations, said in a statement.

It wasn’t the prettiest of starts for Bednar in his inaugural season for Colorado. In 2016-17, his team amassed only 48 points (22-56-4) to finish last in the league. Since then, it’s been full steam ahead for Bednar and the Avalanche. They became the first NHL squad to go from worst to first in a span of four seasons or less since the 1970-71 Bruins, according to research by the team.

In addition, Bednar has led the Avalanche to five straight playoff appearances – and is closing in on a sixth – to become the first Avalanche coach to accomplish the feat. His 40 postseason wins are the second-most in team history, trailing only Bob Hartley (49).

“His strength as a communicator, his relationship with the players, the way he prepares each and every day is a huge reason our team has been so successful,” general manager Chris MacFarland said. “He is an exceptional leader.”

Bednar is currently the third-longest tenured coach in the league, behind only Tampa Bay’s Jon Cooper (March 2013) and Pittsburgh’s Mike Sullivan (December 2015).

“Being able to lead this team over the last seven years has been a privilege,” said Bednar, whose team faces the Penguins on Wednesday. “I am grateful and excited to have the opportunity to continue building on what we’ve accomplished so far.”

Bednar captured a Kelly Cup (ECHL) with the South Carolina Stingrays in 2009, along with a Calder Cup (AHL) with the Lake Erie Monsters in 2016.