I’ve decided to try to predict where I think the top players in the NHL Free Agent market will end up. When the clock strikes midnight tonight, NHL Free Agency starts and unrestricted free agents from all 30 teams will be free to sign with whomever they would like.
So lets get right into it, using The Fourth Period’s top 30 chart I’ll look at the top five (not already re-signed) players and predict where they’ll end up.
1. Jay Bouwmeester (FLA/CAL)
This will be the last you see of Bouwmeester in a Panthers uniform
Jay Bouwmeester is the hot commodity of the free agent period this summer. He’s an offensive minded puck moving defensmen that can also shut down dangerous opposing forwards. At the draft, the Panthers dealt his exclusive negotiating rights to the Calgary Flames. He’s originally from Alberta so I think he’ll want to play on the west coast somewhere.
Where He’ll End up: Edmonton—He’s originally from Edmonton, currently negotiating based out of Edmonton and they have the salary cap room to sign him. It just seems too easy.
Other Places He Could Go: Calgary, Montreal, Toronto
2. Marian Hossa (DET)
Hossa will look to make a better decision this year
Its well known that Hossa spurned the Pittsburgh Penguins to sign a oned year deal with the Detroit Red Wings to win a championship...didn’t turn out so well for him. That being said, he’s an all world offensive and defensive forward. He will bring 40 plus goals wherever he ends up.
He would like to stay with Detroit, but unless he’s willing to take a $3 million pay cut, its not going to happen.
Where He’ll End Up: LA Kings—they have the cap room, and they are looking to be major players in Free Agency. If you put Hossa out there with Anze Kopitar and some of their other top young talent like Frolov, you have yourself a pretty formidable lineup.
Other Places He Could Go: Edmonton (made a $9 mil offer for him last summer), Vancouver
3. Marian Gaborik (MIN)
Marian Gaborik might need to take less money because of health issues
When healthy, Gaborik can rack up the points with the best of them. The problem? He’s never healthy. He has only played in a handful of games this year (a fantasy owners nightmare), but when he did, even in a trapping defensive scheme, he still had 23 points in only 17 games.
Gaborik has made it known that he would like to play with best friend Marian Hossa and if the stars align correctly it just could happen. Gaborik may have to take a bit less money than he would like, and probably a shorter contract than his ideal situation because of his health issues.
Where He’ll End Up: Vancouver—He has been reported to have bought a house in the Vancouver area within the past two weeks and the Canucks will need to replace the other players on our list.
Other Places He Could Go: Edmonton, LA Kings, NY Rangers, Washington
4. Henrik and Daniel Sedin (VAN)
The twins will play together again next season, the question is where?
Henrik and Daniel Sedin are a package deal, the identical twin brothers who have been and probably always will be. They have given identical offers to the Vancouver Canucks, but it's looking like they’ll head to free agency at midnight tonight. They are both very talented players that deserve somewhere in the ballpark of $6 million each.
Where They’ll End Up: Toronto, they’ll be matched back up with the general manager who gave up a lot to draft both of them when they were drafted in Vancouver, Brian Burke.
Other Places They Could Go: Vancouver, NY Islanders, Montreal
5. Martin Havlat (CHI)
Martin Havlat has expressed his desire to stay in Chicago
Havlat is another one who is frequently injured, but when he’s healthy man is he dangerous. He has expressed his desire to stay in Chicago. The Blackhawks have offered him a one year deal, but it doesn’t look like he will take that. I’m not positive he’ll go to July 1 as a free agent but if he does, he could be a hot commodity especially when the big names go off the board before him.
Where He’ll End Up: Chicago—even if he doesn’t resign before July 1, I think he’ll give Chicago a chance to match any offer he gets, and they will
Other Places He Could Go: Pittsburgh—he would be a great addition next to Sydney Crosby or Malkin, but they would have to shed some salary in order to do that (I’m looking your way Pascal Dupuis.)
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