The excitement surrounding the 2014 NHL draft has hockey fans around the world excited about the offseason, and nothing can shift the landscape of the league more than the free-agency period.
Teams can begin signing free agents on Tuesday, July 1.
With top names such as Paul Stastny, Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek likely hitting the open market, the possibility of a major shift in the landscape of the NHL has hardcore and casual fans alike excited about the potential changes.
Here is everything you need to know about the 2014 NHL free-agency period.
|Donald Wood's Top 10 Free Agents|
|2||Ryan Miller||St. Louis||G||33|
|4||Dan Boyle||San Jose||D||37|
|7||Brad Richards||New York||C||34|
|Source: NHL.com. Rankings via Donald Wood.|
Latest Rumors and News
The conclusion of the 2014 postseason brought hockey fans a new champion in the Los Angeles Kings, but many fans supporting other teams have already turned their focus to the 2014-15 season and which players their franchises will add or lose this offseason.
The focus has now shifted to free agency.
According to Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun, teams have taken the opportunity to talk to free agents before the signing period begins and are already planning for the future.
One of the biggest names on the open market is former New York Rangers center Brad Richards.
Hornby is reporting that one of the teams most interested in Richards is the New York Islanders, but the Islanders have struggled to sign top names. It may be in Richards’ best interest to leave New York and sign elsewhere too.
Another name Hornby mentions is veteran winger Matt Moulson. After Moulson's solid statistical season with Minnesota, both the Buffalo Sabres and the Islanders are reportedly interested in signing the player who once graced each team’s lineup.
One of the most popular names being talked about is Milan Michalek. Per Hornby’s report, at least 12 teams are currently courting the talented forward, but it could be Phoenix that leads the race to sign the free agent.
As Louis Jean of TVA Sports mentions, another name being talked about is Martin Brodeur:
There is no doubt Brodeur has lost a step at this point in his career, but he knows the game of hockey and would make a wonderful addition to any roster. With true leadership abilities and the willingness to take a backup role if needed, Brodeur will be one of the most important offseason signings.
According to Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun, one of the biggest changes for many teams this offseason could come in net. With top goaltenders such as Jonas Hiller and Ryan Miller on the open market, teams in dire need of a consistent netminder, such as Vancouver, will take the educated risk.
Garrioch claims, “The Canucks will certainly go looking for a goalie on the free agent market. Anaheim’s Jonas Hiller and St. Louis’ Ryan Miller will both draw interest from [Canucks GM Jim] Benning. Don’t forget, he’s going in with a clean slate and owes nothing to what’s happened in the past.”
Garrioch goes on to report about the possible free-agent intentions of the Minnesota Wild. The team will reportedly make offers to Thomas Vanek and Matt Niskanen, and Minnesota could be serious a contender in the Western Conference if the organization gets the deals done.
One of the biggest stars on the free-agency wire is Paul Stastny. While Garrioch is reporting that Colorado wants to re-sign him, Stastny is gaining serious interest from the rest of the league.
"Hard to figure out where Paul Stastny will land but the Colorado centre has got a lot of interest with upwards of 15 teams making calls," Garrioch says. "The Avalanche wants to keep him at a reasonable price but you can expect the Blues, Predators, Leafs and Wings to make a hard push."
There are many intangibles to consider when heading into free agency—team chemistry, winning now vs. building for the long term, the new $69 million salary cap, etc.—but each team is looking to get better.
With several huge stars on the open market and more role players possibly changing teams, next season could be even more exciting than the 2013-14 campaign. And that’s saying something.