The beginning of NHL Free Agency is upon us. The interview process has been completed and we have an indication on where most of the top free agents will sign. But that does not stop us from making our predictions anyway. Enjoy!
Joel Hawreschuk (@JHawreschuk) – Florida Panthers
Considered this year’s top free agent, Artemi Panarin is after a big payday. After putting up 320 points in 322 games in his NHL career, there is no doubting the Russian’s skill. Speculation has it that he is looking for a 7 year, 11.25 million per season contract. Few teams can offer that sort of lucrative contract. However, the Panthers have almost $24 million in cap space. I fully believe the Panthers will land Panarin, adding to their young skilled team.
Mary L. (@smithml1015) – New York Rangers
The Rangers may not have been the savviest during Panarin’s visit, the Jumbotron faux pas aside, BACK UP THE BREAD TRUCK! The New York Rangers need a point producing winger. Artemi Panarin, with back to back 80 point seasons, would fill that need. New York is also the Big Market city Panarin said he’s looking for. The Rangers have the cap space to provide the yeast for the Breadman’s dough to ri$e.
James Maloney (@FNTSYHCKYTRADES)- Colorado Avalanche
The Avs are the ones most prepared for Stanley Cup contention. $38 million in cap space with only Mikko Rantanen due a significant raise, they have the money to make it happen. Imagine a power play of Panarin-MacKinnon-Landeskog-Rantanen-Barrie/Makar.
Joel Hawreschuk (@JHawreschuk) – Nashville Predators
Skilled centers are hard to find and Matt Duchene is exactly that. He put up 70 points in 73 games for the Ottawa Senators and the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2018-2019 season. Duchene has proved he deserves a pay raise. With essentially no one else to re-sign, the Predators can offer Duchene a significant pay increase.
Mary L. (@smithml1015) – Montreal Canadiens
The Nashville Predators may be the obvious choice with PK Subban traded to the New Jersey Devils to clear cap space, but the Montreal Canadiens need a consistent point producer. Matt Duchene has 7- 20 goal, 50 point seasons. That is the consistency the Canadiens need (as do the Predators) but the sentimentality of his connection to Montreal may win him over IF the money is there. With $8 million available in cap space the Canadiens may be able to come up with a contract that would tip the odds of seeing Duchene in a Habs sweater become reality.
James Maloney (@FNTSYHCKYTRADES) – Nashville Predators
Nashville just opened up the door for Duchene with the trade of Pernell Karl Subban. Shedding his $9 million contract gives the Predators $13 million in cap space to sign the 28-year-old center.
Joel Hawreschuk – (@JHawreschuk) Florida Panthers
Vezina winner Sergei Bobrovsky also wants out of Columbus. The uber-skilled goaltender won’t be short of any suitors though. Posting a 37 win season, .913 SV%, and a 2.58 GAA is nothing to sniff at. Thirty-year-old Bobrovsky is still elite. Once again, I suspect the Panthers to land this top free agent. With Roberto Luongo‘s abrupt departure, this move makes a lot of sense for both sides.
Mary L. (@smithml1015) – Florida Panthers
With Luongo retired and almost $24 million available cap space, the Florida Panthers could easily lure Bobrovsky to the sunny climes of Florida with a contract possibly exceeding $10 million AAV. What does Bobrovsky bring that would command that payday? With the Blue Jackets, he is the franchise’s winningest goalie, best GAA and SV% in a season. Oh yeah, there’s those TWO Vezina Trophies. That all being said, I would not rule out the Carolina Hurricanes quite yet. With both Petr Mrazek and Curtis McElhinney exploring the free agent market, the Bunch of Jerks may pay a premium for a veteran backstop.
James Maloney (@FNTSYHCKYTRADES) – Florida Panthers
With the retirement of Luongo, goaltender seems the position of greatest need. The Panthers already have a solid young core of players that need only a top-notch goalie to lead them to the promised land.
Joel Hawreschuk – Dallas Stars (4 years, $7M AAV)
Longtime Shark, Joe Pavelski is considering a new home. Coming off a 38 goal, 64 point season, Pavelski finds a way to keep producing at a respectable pace. The Dallas Stars have been in contact with Pavelski and him joining the Stars bolsters the team’s top 6. Playing with Tyler Seguin has to be an appealing aspect also.
Mary L. (@smithml1015) – Boston Bruins (in my dreams!) No, seriously now, Minnesota Wild
With Pavelski’s net-front presence and consistency in scoring, ten, yes TEN!, 20 goal seasons, there are a few other teams reportedly favored. I’m not ruling the Wild out. My gut tells me that “Little Joe” may be ready to be the BIG man on the ice and in Minnesota, he could shine. The Wild could offer a long-term contract, which Pavelski wants, with MAYBE a $9.5M AAV.
James Maloney (@FNTSYHCKYTRADES) – San Jose Sharks
With the rumored contract that Pavelski is looking for, I can’t believe he will finish his career anywhere other than San Jose. I’d be more surprised to see Patrick Marleau go back to San Jose then I would Pavelski.
Joel Hawreschuk (@JHawreschuk) – Vancouver Canucks
With the Jets having a tonne of contracts to tie up and only $23 million in cap space, it seems like Tyler Myers is the odd man out. While not an elite point-producing defenseman, he does offer a lot for a team that needs a smooth skating and right-handed d-man. The Vancouver Canucks have a weakness on their right side defense and are looking for someone to add depth to that spot. It seems like Vancouver is the probable landing spot for Myers.
James Maloney – (@FNTSYHCKYTRADES) Ottawa Senators
Let Free Agency Begin!
So there you have it! We will see tomorrow if any of these predictions come to pass. The crazy season that is NHL Free Agency has officially begun. Enjoy the ride folks!