NHL Power Rankings: Best bargain contracts in free agency

NHL Power Rankings
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In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings we are going to take a look at the best value signings of the free agent signing period so far.

What are we considering a value signing? Signings that have little term and a smaller salary cap hit. We are setting the limit at contracts that are only one or two years in length and have a salary cap hit of lower than $5 million per season. Signings that carry relatively little risk, but have the potential for a reward.

Which signings and players make this week’s list?

To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!

1. Tomas Tatar, New Jersey Devils (2 years, $9 million). Forget value signing, Tatar might be one of the best signings of the offseason. Period. He has played at a top-line level for several years and brings elite possession driving and 25-goal ability to a Devils team that needs as much talent as it can get around its young core of Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier.

2. Pius Suter, Detroit Red Wings (2 years, $6.25 million). It is surprising that the Blackhawks, a team that is lacking forward depth, could not find a use for Suter. Instead they opted not to tender him a qualifying offer and allowed him to become an unrestricted free agent. The Red Wings got him on a two-year deal to add some much needed skill to their forward lineup. Is he a star? Probably not. But he could be this year’s Anthony Duclair — a talented, young forward that did not get tendered as a restricted free agent and found a new home somewhere else.

3. Keith Yandle, Philadelphia Flyers (1-year, $900,000). Just because he is no longer a top-pairing, 25-minute per night player does not mean he is without value. Put him into a situation where he can focus on offense and you are going to get some production. The Flyers signed him for less than a million dollars and if they are smart are going to get a heckuva third-pairing/power play specialist.

4. Antti Raanta, Carolina Hurricanes (2 years, $4 million). The Hurricanes’ revolving door of goalies keeps rolling this offseason with Raanta and Frederik Andersen joining the roster. Technically both goalies could have made the list given their contracts, but we are going to go with Raanta because he has the cheaper deal and might be more intriguing. If he is healthy — big if — he could be a significant addition.

[Related: Every free agent signing by all 32 NHL teams]

5. Ryan Dzingel, Arizona Coyotes (1-year, $1.1 million). Probably a signing that you overlooked, but Arizona getting Dzingel for one year and $1.1 million is a smart move. He has had strong underlying numbers the past couple of years and still scores at 10-15 goal pace over 82 games. He is also the type of player that Arizona can flip at the deadline for another pick or prospect to continue its rebuild.

6. Nick Foligno, Boston Bruins (2 years, $3.8 million). This did not work out for him in Toronto after the trade deadline and is now moving on to Boston. He probably will not score like a top-six forward anymore, but the Bruins do not really need him to be one of those. As a third-line option he should still be able to add something.

7. Mathieu Perreault, Montreal Canadiens (1-year, $950,000). The Canadiens have lost a lot from their Stanley Cup Final team this offseason, but Perreault is a nice cheap addition to help replace at least some of it. Strong possession driver that can chip in some offense and he only costs $950,000 against the salary cap.

8. Corey Perry, Tampa Bay Lightning (2 years, $2 million). If you can not beat them, join them. After losing to the Lightning in back-to-back Cup Finals with two different teams, Perry joins Tampa Bay on a two-year, $2 million contract to help them go for a three-peat. The Lightning lost four significant forwards from those teams and needed to replenish the depth, and while Perry may not be on the level of Yanni Gourde or Blake Coleman any longer, he should still be a solid addition.

9. Nick Bonino, San Jose Sharks (2 years, $4.1 million). Good defensive center that can score 15 goals. Will he make the Sharks a contender again? No. But he is still a good pickup.

10. Braden Holtby, Dallas Stars (1-year, $2 million). His career has rapidly declined, and things did not work out in Vancouver, but I like his chances for a rebound playing behind that defense in Dallas.

[Related: The riskiest (and safest) contracts signed this summer]

11. Derek Stepan, Carolina Hurricanes (1-year, $1.35 million). He was limited to just 20 games in Ottawa and has been in a bit of a decline before that, but the Hurricanes are not counting on him to carry the offense. As a bottom-six option for $1.3 million this season there is some potential for a small impact here.

12. Ryan Murray, Colorado Avalanche (1-year $2 million). Murray never panned out as expected as a No. 2 overall pick for a number of reasons (injuries are high on the list) but he is still a solid defensive player that should be a nice depth addition in Colorado for cheap. They do not need him to be more than a third-pairing player.

13. Ian Cole, Carolina Hurricanes (1-year, $2.9 million). He will not do much to drive the offense, but a very good defensive presence with Stanley Cup experience.

14. Ondrej Kase, Toronto Maple Leafs (1-year, $1.25 million). Total long shot here, but there is potential. He has appeared in just 88 games since the start of the 2018-19 season, and only three games this past season, but he does have talent and he is going to a team where he should have an opportunity to produce. The Maple Leafs paid next to nothing for him against the cap. No risk. Potential reward. 

15. Erik Haula, Boston Bruins (2 years, $4.75 million). He is probably never going to repeat that 29-goal, 55-point season from the Golden Knights expansion season, but when healthy he should be a good 15-goal, 35-point depth scorer. That is something the Bruins need.