NHL Free Agents: 27 Biggest Names Hitting the Market and Where They Could Land
The NHL free agency signing period starts on Sunday, July 1 at 12:00 p.m. ET. At that point, each unrestricted free agent is free to speak with all 30 clubs in the NHL in an attempt to land a huge contract, but who are the top-27 players hitting the market?
Some NHL clubs have already plucked their own top-name UFA's off the market, but there is still a solid group of players to select from this summer.
Here are the top-27 players hitting the market and where they might sign.
Jarret Stoll was a key role player for the Los Angeles Kings this season. In 78 games, he scored six goals and assisted on 15 others for 21 points. It was a down year for him, as he recorded 43 and 47 points in the two previous seasons.
Stoll is a solid third-/fourth-line center who is excellent on faceoffs and is a gritty player. At one point, he posted a season in which he scored 22 goals and assisted on 46 others for 68 points.
Because he is coming off a down year, he could come cheaper, and it would be a low-risk, high-reward situation.
New Team: Buffalo Sabres
Olli Jokinen had a solid season with the Calgary Flames, with 61 points and 23 goals.
He is a player who could generate interest because of his skill set and versatility. Jokinen is one of the top centers on the market and could add secondary scoring to a playoff-bubble team.
Jokinen is a solid second-line player who will score 20-plus goals and contribute between 50 and 70 points at this stage of his career.
New Team: Florida Panthers
Dustin Penner had an abysmal regular season, but he redeemed himself with a strong playoff performance.
The Kings may look to clear some salary, so it is likely that Penner hits the market. Penner will take a pay cut, but should draw interest from teams looking for size and truculence.
New Team: Toronto Maple Leafs
Ray Whitney had an exceptional season for a player who is 40 years old.
The Coyotes' winger showed the entire NHL why he is called “The Wizard” and increased his point production from the 2010-11 season by 20 this past season.
Whitney is a solid secondary scorer who should generate tons of interest in a free-agent market with a limited number of marksmen.
New Team: Boston Bruins
Jaromir Jagr, one of the greatest European-born players in the NHL, is set to hit the free-agent market and could draw a lot of interest. After a respectable return to the league, Jagr plans to slim down and get stronger this offseason in order to be faster and healthier.
This should convince teams that were skeptical of how Jagr would respond to NHL action after years away that he can still be productive.
Jagr is a solid winger for a second- or third-line role and will be a threat on the power play.
New Team: Edmonton Oilers
Dennis Wideman had an All-Star season with the Washington Capitals. He is an offensive-minded defenseman who will put up a lot of points, but he can be a liability on the defensive side of the puck.
If Wideman were to be paired with a shutdown defensive partner next season, some of his mistakes could be covered up and he would be a better overall defenseman.
New Team: Carolina Hurricanes
Veteran forward Jamie Langenbrunner is a decent penalty killer and a player who can eat up minutes on the third or fourth line.
He brings Stanley Cup experience and leadership to the table, so he would be a solid mentor to young players.
New Team: Re-signs with St.Louis Blues
Matt Carle is the second-best defenseman on the free-agent market, and for that reason, he will still get paid like a quality defenseman.
Carle is good for at least 35-to-40 points of offense, and he's solid in his own zone as a defensive player.
He stepped to the forefront this season and was placed in the top pairing with Kimmo Timonen when Chris Pronger went down with an injury.
New Team: Tampa Bay Lightning
P.A. Parenteau scored 18 goals and assisted on 49 others for a total of 67 points this season, leading to interest for his services at the trade deadline.
Parenteau was not merely a by-product of playing alongside John Tavares, as the playmaking winger spent time with multiple linemates.
New Team: Carolina Hurricanes
Shane Doan has been a member of the Phoenix Coyotes/Winnipeg Jets his entire career. This year, he finally was able to engage in a lengthy playoff run, and you could tell that it was a great experience for him.
Doan's loyalty to Phoenix is clearly evident, but with the franchise's future still in jeopardy, could an offer from another team wow him?
New Team: Re-signs with Phoenix Coyotes
Alex Semin is a player who used to be a dynamic performer for the Washington Capitals. He was a solid offensive contributor who hit the 80-point plateau during the 2009-10 campaign.
However, Semin has slipped and finished with 54 points in two consecutive seasons.
The Russian, despite his offensive shortcomings, will have a big buyer this offseason. But who will step up?
New Team: CSKA Moscow of KHL
Josh Cooper of The Tennessean spoke with Ryan Suter about his future and his plans this summer, and the impending UFA had this to say:
“Wherever I sign I want to be there for the rest of my career, and that affects my family, my wife, my kid (and) if we have more kids,” Suter said. “Everything plays into it.”
Suter is the top defenseman on this year's free-agent market, and he wants a long-term deal, so odds are, he could sign a deal with bonuses up front and a long-term diluted cap hit.
New Team: Detroit Red Wings
Brad Boyes is a former top-six forward whose point totals have declined over the past few seasons. There is a market for him because of the low-risk/high-reward that would accompany his signing.
At this stage, Boyes is a third-line player who could step up to the second line if needed and can play on the power play.
New Team: Colorado Avalanche
On the surface, Ryan Smyth doesn't look like an attractive signing, but he could be a steal for some team if the Oilers don't re-sign him. Smyth loves Edmonton, but sometimes, money talks.
Smyth is a veteran with an impressive wrist shot and net presence. He is feisty on the power play and great at scoring garbage goals. A snarly player, Smyth will get under your skin.
Adding Smyth would be a solid depth move for a team looking for offense.
New Team: Re-signs with Edmonton Oilers
Josh Harding is a free agent and hit the market at the perfect time. There are tons of teams looking for young goaltenders with promise and Harding fits the bill.
He was 13-12-4 this season for a struggling Minnesota Wild team, so it is expected that Harding would benefit from a team that has a solid defense and an offense that scores goals.
Source: Josh Harding signs a three-year, $5.7 million deal with #mnwild ($1.9 AAV)
— Michael Russo (@Russostrib) June 19, 2012
Travis Moen is a gritty, physical player ideal for any team's third line.
He plays along the boards and grinds in the dirty areas of the ice. Moen also is a player of excellent character, a good teammate and great personality to have in the locker room.
New Team: Detroit Red Wings
The Ducks have until just before the draft to deal Schultz, or he will become an UFA.
Schultz was a defenseman at the University of Wisconsin—the same school that Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh attended—and Craig Button describes Schultz as a Drew Doughty-type player.
Next to Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, Schultz may be most sought after UFA this summer. Blue chip, Top 4 offensive defenceman prospect.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) May 25, 2012
@TSNBobMcKenzie. To add a little On Justin Schultz. NHL ready & a player I feel could be like Drew Doughty. Dynamic & controls game.
— Craig Button (@CraigJButton) May 25, 2012
New Team: New York Rangers
Bryce Salvador is hoping he can capitalize on his solid Stanley Cup playoff run this summer, as he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
Salvador posted a stat line of 4-10-14 in 24 total playoff games and scored clutch goals for the Devils, so his elevated performance in important games is something to take note of.
New Team: Minnesota Wild
Paul Gaustad changed teams at the deadline, and the Nashville Predators acquired him in order to add depth and grit in their bottom six.
The former Sabre is a physical player who is a formidable presence on face-offs. He likely will take a pay cut this offseason due to the number of similar-skilled players available.
New Team: Vancouver Canucks
Sheldon Souray turned down the Dallas Stars' offer of $3 million over one year.
He has a booming point shot, is a threat on the power play and wants to win, but who could offer the veteran an opportunity and an appropriate salary for his services?
New Team: Ottawa Senators
The Monster is set to become a free agent and it appears he will not be back in Toronto.
At this point, the best opportunity for Gustavsson could be a backup role behind an established goaltender so that he could be mentored and tutored.
Gustavsson has talent and skill, but could use a new environment and someone to take him under their wing.
Kyle Wellwood had a great year and was a true bargain for the Winnipeg Jets. The Jets paid him $700,000 this season and Wellwood posted a stat line of 18/29/47.
Wellwood is a solid secondary player who can jump between lines and should be a low-risk signing. He is definitely worth the risk considering the impact he made last season.
New Team: Montreal Canadiens
Brandon Prust is a rugged fourth-line player for the New York Rangers and a great teammate.
He will drop the gloves to defend his teammates, plays in the dirty areas along the boards and is an exceptional penalty killer.
Prust also contributes a key shorthanded goal from time to time and is one of the better grinders in the game right now.
New Team: Re-signs with New York Rangers
Daymond Langkow is a player in the final stages of his career, but he still has value.
His days of scoring between 50 and 70 points a year are behind him, but he is still a player good for limited minutes on the third or fourth line and 30-to-40 points.
New Team: Florida Panthers
Bryan Allen is a player who generated interest at the trade deadline, so there is a market out there for his services.
At 31 years of age, Allen is a physical, shutdown-pairing defensive defenseman. He can log 18-plus minutes a game.
New Team: Philadelphia Flyers
Jason Garrison became a well-known name this season because of his booming point shot and was a power-play threat, posting 33 points.
Garrison is a younger defenseman who could help a team with a struggling power play and also be a solid depth signing.
New Team: Nashville Predators
Zach Parise is the top prize on this year's market. He's a speedy forward who can hit, score, kill penalties, play the power play and, most of all, he's a leader. Parise is a solid player all around, and he will generate tons of interest.
He made $6 million in 2011-12, and he's going to get a massive contract this offseason. It will be interesting to see how much teams will pay for Parise.
New Team: Minnesota Wild