In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings we take a look at the best of the remaining unrestricted free agents that are still on the market.
While most of the top players are signed, there are still a few players that have slipped through the cracks that should be able to contribute this season, and perhaps even beyond.
Who all makes the cut this week?
To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!
1. Tuukka Rask. Is this a Boston-or-bust situation? It probably is, but he is still technically an unrestricted free agent and we will include him. The Bruins just made a huge investment in Linus Ullmark, while Jeremy Swayman waiting in the wings, so it will be interesting to see their level of urgency in trying to bring back Rask. He is still an elite, top-tier goalie.
2. Tomas Tatar. He fell out of favor with the coaching staff in Montreal during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but he is still an outstanding player, top-line scorer, and elite possession driver. If I am the Kings and looking for a way to jumpstart my team in the short-term I would bring him in and reunite him with Phillip Danault.
3. Kyle Palmieri. The Islanders have the salary cap space to bring him back and have not yet made another significant move this offseason. So perhaps that is on the table. Palmieri is a 20-25 goal scorer over 82 games with a solid defensive impact. He remains a very strong middle-six player.
4. Casey Cizikas. Given the contracts for players like Brandon Tanev and Barclay Goodrow there is no reason for Cizikas to not be able to get five-six years and $3 million per season. Great defensive impact and can chip in some offense. Perfect for for the Islanders.
5. Zach Parise. He just turned 37 and is coming off a down year where he found himself as a healthy scratch on more than one occasion, but he is also just one year removed from back-to-back 25-goal seasons. He is not a franchise player anymore, but he can still contribute.
[Related: Every free agent signing by all 32 NHL teams]
6. Ryan Donato. Donato seems like he could be this year’s Anthony Duclair: A restricted free agent that did not recieve a qualifying offer and can excel in the right situation. He has great underlying numbers and has shown flashes of being able to score in the past.
7. Eric Staal. Staal is not going to be a top-line game-changer anymore, but given his two-way play, possession driving ability, and occasional offense he would be a solid bottom-six center for a contender.
8. Joe Thornton. He is 42 years old and finished as an elite player but his underlying numbers and playmaking ability are still there. He is also still chasing that elusive Stanley Cup.
9. Dominik Kahun. This situation is just screaming one-year prove it deal. He has shown flashes of being a really good player in Chicago and Pittsburgh, but never really saw it progress in Buffalo or Edmonton.
10. Ryan Murray. He never panned out as a No. 2 overall pick and will not provide much offense, but he will make a solid defensive impact on a second or third pairing.
11. James Neal. He might still be able to provide something as a power play specialist but outside of a random hot streak to start the 2019-20 season he has not really been an impact player for three years.
12. Derick Brassard. He has played on six different teams since the start of the 2017-18 season and is probably going to be joining a seventh at some point this offseason. At one time he was a legit top-six center and big-game player, but is now just a depth forward that might score 10-15 goals and 30 points in an 82-game season.
13. Zdeno Chara. Not sure how much he has left at age 44 but he is still a massive presence on the blue line with a heavy shot.
14. Nikita Gusev. His first year in New Jersey looked very promising, especially after all of the preseason hype surrounding his arrival. But things went backwards in a significant way in year two with the Devils. Still a lot of talent there. Good reclamation project.
15. Devan Dubnyk. After being one of the league’s best goalies for most of his time in Minnesota he has hit an obvious decline the past two years. He is probably not going to be what you want as a starter. But can he still give you enough to be a solid backup? He might.