During the NHL offseason, the biggest free agents were Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. Other than those two, there were not many others to choose from when it came to star power.
The next two Julys, the number of star free agents is going to be a little higher—that is, unless teams re-sign the players, as has been the case over the last few seasons. While a few of them are going to be re-signed, there is a big chance that the number of star free agents will be higher than two.
The following list is comprised of players who will be either be restricted or unrestricted free agents in the 2013 or 2014 offseasons if they are not re-signed before then.
Anaheim has two players because, well, obviously both Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf are not only important parts of the Ducks lineup, but some of the better players in the league. They are going to do everything to re-sign these two players.
If not, Perry and Getzlaf will be the biggest names on the market come July 1, 2013.
Over the past few years, restricted free agents have been off limits. Even Steven Stamkos wasn’t offer sheeted. That may have all changed with the Shea Weber offer sheet this offseason.
If former second overall pick Tyler Seguin is not re-signed long term, he could be a prime target for an offer sheet.
The first 2014 free agent on this list, Ryan Miller should be re-signed far ahead of July 1, 2014. The question is if the Buffalo Sabres fail to make the playoffs again, will the Sabres choose to go with Jhonas Enroth as the starter after 2014?
With the Sabres struggling the past few seasons, it’s not out of the question that the Sabres could go with Enroth.
If the Calgary Flames refuse to rebuild, then there is no way that they can let Jarome Iginla go for nothing. He will be re-signed long before the season is over.
The Carolina Hurricanes have two young defensemen in the lineup in Justin Faulk and Jamie McBain, with another youngster in Ryan Murphy arguably ready to jump into the lineup.
The Hurricanes’ No. 1 defenseman for the past few years has been Joni Pitkanen. He is in a good position to be a mentor to the Hurricanes' young offensive defensemen. He will need to be re-signed in order to do that.
No matter what happens with the Chicago Blackhawks' goaltending situation, Cory Crawford is the Blackhawks goaltender of the future. He will be re-signed before the season is over.
Much like Tyler Seguin in next year’s free-agent market, Matt Duchene will be a huge target as a restricted free agent in 2014. As Colorado only re-signed Duchene for two years this offseason, it’s fair to say that the Avalanche want to see what Duchene can do in the next two seasons before signing him long term.
With Rick Nash now gone, Ryan Johansen will be the player the Columbus Blue Jackets build around. Hopefully they don’t mess up with Johansen as they did with Nash.
As the Stars just traded for Derek Roy and he is presumably the long-term No. 2 center for them, the Stars will be locking up Roy, well, long term.
The Detroit Red Wings aren’t known to let their big names become free agents when it’s not known if they would re-sign. While Jimmy Howard is likely to remain a Red Wing, it’s arguable that he could get a lot more money on the open market. It’s best that Detroit locks him up early.
With Taylor Hall now taken care of, the Edmonton Oilers will turn their attention to their leading scorer from last season, Jordan Eberle. He should get a similar deal to Hall.
Stephen Weiss was a big part of the Florida Panthers' success in winning the Southeast Division title. That has helped him go for trade bait to someone who the Panthers will be keeping around for a long time.
Slava Voynov proved himself to be a very good defenseman last season, allowing the Kings to trade Jack Johnson to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Jeff Carter trade. Voynov might not be a big target for an offer sheet, but that doesn’t mean the Kings will be slow in re-signing him.
In what used to be a sure thing, Dany Heatley might not be booted after next season. If Heatley can form some chemistry with Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise, the Minnesota Wild might have no choice but to keep Heatley long term—although, his cap hit would probably be a bit cheaper.
Even with Montreal’s retooling, they will more than likely want to keep their captain around for a good portion of the rebuild. Brian Gionta will be responsible for mentoring the Canadiens young players such as Alex Galchenyuk.
Mike Fisher would have been in this spot if he had not been re-signed a couple of days ago. The Nashville Predators won’t have to worry about Patric Hornqvist being a huge target for an offer sheet, but he has the potential of being a huge part of the Predators lineup for quite some time.
The New Jersey Devils lost Zach Parise this offseason. Martin Brodeur has a maximum of two years left in his career. The Devils can’t afford to let Travis Zajac go by the wayside as well.
If the trade that sent Lubomir Visnovsky to the New York Islanders does not get reversed, it would be wise for the Islanders to sign the offensively gifted veteran to guide their young defensemen alongside Mark Streit.
The New York Rangers have put together quite a group of offensive talent with Brad Richards, Rick Nash and Marian Gaborik. To stay Stanley Cup contenders, they will need to keep Gaborik in the fold.
When Kyle Turris was still in Phoenix at the beginning of the season, he held out because he wanted to be traded away from the Coyotes. When it comes time for him to be a free agent again, he won’t want to repeat the process.
Another one that was changed due to a recent re-signing (Scott Hartnell), Claude Giroux is now the most important player to re-sign. Even though he isn’t a free agent until 2014, Giroux has broken into the league’s elite and needs to be re-signed pronto.
Another player who has recently broken into the limelight, Mike Smith was nearly a castoff of the NHL before joining the Phoenix Coyotes. If he shows that he can repeat that performance, the Coyotes should reward him handsomely.
If there is a sure thing on this list, it’s that the Pittsburgh Penguins are not going to let Evgeni Malkin get anywhere near free agency.
Ryane Clowe is one of the more underrated players in the NHL. While the San Jose Sharks might want to get rid of a few of their bigger contracts, Clowe is not one of them. He is the type of player they need to hold onto even if they do eventually rebuild.
The St. Louis Blues is a team that scores by committee, and Andy McDonald is a big part of that. He is one of the leaders of the Blues, and they are not going to let McDonald go easily.
Teddy Purcell has formed a good chemistry with Steven Stamkos. Do you think that the Tampa Bay Lightning would let him go?
Joffrey Lupul proved himself in his performance in the 2010-11 season after being acquired from the Anaheim Ducks. Forming a great duo with Phil Kessel, Lupul has proven that he should be kept around long term.
Pretty good for a player who was once considered a salary dump in the deal that acquired him.
The Vancouver Canucks have worked hard to become and stay a power in the league. They are not going to let two of the most important parts of that goal in Alex Burrows and Alex Edler leave for nothing.
It took a few years, but Braden Holtby finally wrestled the Washington Capitals' starting goaltender job away from Michal Neuvirth. Holtby will be re-signed midway through the season after proving that he can continue his winning ways.
The Winnipeg Jets might be busy trying to re-sign Evander Kane this offseason, but they might have to deal with another young player becoming a restricted free agent. Alex Burmistrov might not be at the same level as Kane, but he has potential nonetheless.