In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings we take an updated look at the top unrestricted free agents that willl be available when the free agent signing period begins on Wednesday.
In recent days we have seen a handful of players re-sign with their current teams, including most notably forward Taylor Hall with the Bruins, and several potential free agents get taken by the Kraken in the NHL Expansion Draft (Chris Driedger, Adam Larsson, Jamie Oleksiak).
We have also seen a few additional players hit the open market due to buyouts, including Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, and Keith Yandle.
Here we will take a look at the top remaining players entering the week.
Who all makes the list this week?
To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!
Players Most Likely To Re-Sign
1. Alex Ovechkin. His 13-year contract is over and that technically makes him eligible for unrestricted free agency. But we all know he is going to end up in Washington, right? [Re-signed with Capitals: 5-year, $47.5 million]
2. Tuukka Rask. Bruins fans have had a long-time love-hate relationship with Rask, but it would probably be in their best interests if the team can get him re-signed. He is still one of the league’s best goalies.
3. David Krejci. With Hall already re-signed it would be a huge win for the Bruins to get Krejci back as well to reunite that second line that played so well together. Hard to envision Krejci in a sweater that is not a Bruins sweater.
4. Gabriel Landeskog. You would like to think Colorado can get its captain signed, but those talks have been difficult to this point. Landeskog brings a rare combination of grit, skill, and defensive excellence to the top of any lineup. The Avs want to keep him but it is starting to look like a real possibility that he could leave. [Re-signed with Avalanche: 8-year, $56 million]
5. Philipp Grubauer. Grubauer has been an excellent starter since joining the Avalanche three years ago and took a huge step forward this season, finishing as a Vezina Trophy finalist. If the Avalanche can not get him and/or Landeskog re-signed they are going to have two significant players to replace. [Signed with Kraken: 6-year, $34.5 million]
Moving On For A Bigger Payday
6. Dougie Hamilton. Of the players that actually have a chance of changing teams Hamilton should be at the top of the list given his all around ability on defense. He can play every situation, is a dominant possession driver, and an impact player offensively. Every team should want to sign him. Carolina is going to try, but it will be difficult and it seems likely that he is moving on. [Signed with Devils: 7-year, $63 million]
7. Phillip Danault. An outstanding shutdown center with better offensive skill than he sometimes gets credit for. Along with being a Selke-caliber defender he can also be a 50-point center. Extremely valuable player. [Signed with Kings: 6-year, $33 million.]
8. Blake Coleman. He should get a massive contract on the open market. The rare player that both analytics and eye test people rave over equally, and he also has the Stanley Cup winner reputation (back-to-back Cups as a key player for the Lightning) that GMs love. [Signed with Flames: 6-year, $29.4 million]
9. Zach Hyman. He seems destined to end up with the Oilers. Good player that is about to get a contract that everybody will hate, and probably for good reason. Never want to sign a 29-year-old second-tier free agent to a seven- or eight-year contract. [Signed with Oilers: 7-year, $38.5 million]
Time For A Change
10. Ryan Suter. It was very surprising to see him get bought out along with Zach Parise, not only because of the impact it has on Minnesota’s salary cap, but also because he is still a pretty good player. He is no longer a serious Norris candidate, but he is a legitimate top-four defender in the NHL and will probably be a good value on his next deal. [Signed with Stars: 4-year, $14.6 million]
11. Kyle Palmieri. Very underrated player for most of his career. He will score 25-30 goals over an 82-game season and give you solid play away from the puck. If the Islanders could get him re-signed that would be a nice move for their offseason.
12. Jaden Schwartz. Really good second-line forward that will score 20 goals and help drive possession. A good Plan B for any team that does not get one of the top forwards. [Signed with Kraken: 5-year, $27.5 million.]
13. Tomas Tatar. Tatar has been the top scorer on the Canadiens over the past three seasons, has dominant underlying numbers, and plays great next to Danault and Brendan Gallagher. But he still seemed to fall out of favor in Montreal this season. Some team should try to sign him and Danault together.
14. Brandon Saad. Saad never became the superstar the Blackhawks hoped he would when he first entered the NHL, but he has become an excellent middle-six winger. His underlying numbers are fantastic, and on the right team and in the right situation he could definitely be a 20-30 goal scorer. [Signed with Blues: 5-year, $22.5 million.]
15. Paul Stastny. He is not going to be a foundational player anymore but if you have him centering your second or third line you are going to be in pretty good shape. [Re-signed with Jets: 1 year, $3.75 million.]
16. Keith Yandle. At this point you probably need to shelter him a little in a role where he can focus on offense. There is still value in that. [Signed with Flyers: 1-year, $900,000]
17. Zach Parise. Parise is not totally finished, but his production did take a noticeable drop this season when the Wild used him. Still, he is just one year removed from a 25-goal season (in less than 70 games) and can still score a little. Is he a good fit for the Islanders?
18. Alec Martinez. Martinez had one of his best years ever during the 2020-21 season with the Golden Knights, and it could not have happened at a better time for him. Do not expect a repeat of that offensive performance, but he can still contribute. [Re-signed with Golden Knights: 3-year, $15.75 million.]
19. Mike Hoffman. Hoffman is a one-dimensional player that does one thing well: score goals. Fortunately, that is an important dimension. He is not going to make much of an impact without the puck on his stick. [Signed with Canadiens: 3-year, $13.5 million]
20. Tyson Barrie. Barrie signed a one-year deal with the Oilers for this past season and definitely did a lot to help is value for this free agent class. He picked the right team to get a sheltered role, power play minutes, and time on the ice with two of the best offensive players in the world (Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl). Do not let that trick you into thinking he is a top-pairing player, though. Good player. Just needs to be put in the right role. [Re-signed with Oilers: 3-year, $13.5 million]