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Top 5 2021 NHL UFAs

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NHL’s free agency is fast approaching and it is littered with big-name superstars, as well as future Hall of Fame talent. Although a few big names have inked extension, such as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Binnington, Brendan Gallagher, among others are locked up many great players remain. The NHL’s flat cap could play a big role in where everyone lands and it will be nothing short of exciting.

1. Alexander Ovechkin

“The Great Eight” is set to hit the open market. As of now, it seems highly improbable Ovechkin ends up anywhere that is not Washington, as long as he does not have a contract there is a small chance. Many factors could play into Ovechkin’s decision, coming off a massive 13-year $124 million contracts he has made it publicly clear he wants to retire in Washington. Although if Ovechkin wants to break Wayne Gretzky‘s all-time scoring record (894) he has some work to do, currently sitting at 730. Ovechkin is 165 goals away from passing Gretzky, meaning the number one thing the Capitals will need to offer Ovechkin is the term. If the Capitals can give Ovechkin a five-year contract, this should give him the time to break the record in Washington and all parties be happy.

Best Fit: Washington Capitals

2. Gabriel Landeskog

Another captain is set to hit the market. The Colorado Avalanche and captain Gabriel Landeskog have a tough decision this off-season. The Avalanche are ready to win and Landeskog is a key part of their team. Although both parties need each other the future may say differently. With Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar, and Philipp Grubauer all due contracts within the next few seasons Landeskog among others would need to take discounts for the Avalanche to succeed.

Best Fit: Colorado Avalanche

3. Dougie Hamilton

Dougie Hamilton is all alone at the top of the NHL’s UFA defenseman list. He also the top-rated UFA most likely on the move. The Carolina Hurricanes have granted Hamilton the opportunity to negotiate eight-year contracts with other teams, setting up for a sign and trade. The nine-year veteran blueliner finished the season with 42 points in 55 games, pushing his stock well above 2021 $5.75 million cap hit. Hamilton may have a contract prior to July 28th, or this could be an intriguing storyline throughout the offseason.

Best Fit: Edmonton Oilers

4. Philipp Grubauer

Another Avalanche player in the top five, is this a blessing or a curse? Philipp Grubauer was a finalist for the Vezina in 2021 and played a key role in the Avalanche 2021 President Trophy run. Grubauer is due for a raise higher than his 2021 $5.57 million salary, but much like the rest of the Aves if he opts to take a pay cut this regular season juggernaut could continue to be dangerous for years to come. Although if he takes a different route and chases the money he can help make a juggernaut elsewhere.

Best Fit: Edmonton Oilers

5. Taylor Hall

Is Taylor Hall still a top-tier talent? I would say so. He has shown personal success everywhere he has played, except Buffalo, but who should any success in Buffalo this season? The former first overall pick has not lived up to expectations, yet. There is still time and in the right place, he may be able to help a team win. On the other hand Hall’s last couple of free agency, decisions have not been sound. Third times the charm, right?

Best Fit: Boston Bruins

Other Notable Free-Agents

Outside of the top five their are plenty of other game-changers. Such as Tyson Barrie, Zach Hyman, Kyle Palmieri, David Krejci, Tuukka Rask, Tomas Tatar, Adam Larsson, Alexander Edler, Brandon Saad, and many more. The NHL’s flat cap will make things more interesting and may even see the market get flipped upside down with short-term low-salary contracts. July 28th will be an exciting day in the NHL.

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