NHL Free Agents 2019: Top Players on Market Following Stanley Cup Final

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJune 14, 2019

Columbus Blue Jackets' Artemi Panarin, of Russia, plays against the New York Islanders during an NHL hockey game Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

NHL front-office personnel, players and agents have been gearing up for the start of free agency long before the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday.

Now the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues are also able to focus on free agency, we will have an even better picture as to where certain players will land.

Before free agency kicks off July 1, teams have a chance to re-sign players through contract extensions, but a good amount of names will forgo that option to be out on the open market.

                          

Top Players on Free-Agent Market

Erik Karlsson 

Where Erik Karlsson lands depends on how his negotiations with the San Jose Sharks go.

Josie Lepe/Associated Press

According to Kevin Kurz of The Athletic, the Swede and the Sharks have continued negotiations on a contract extension

An extended deal with San Jose would keep Karlsson from hitting the open market, but if he does, he will be the most coveted free agent available.

He is more than deserving of an extension in San Jose, as he is a six-time All-Star, two-time Norris Trophy winner and still carries value at 29.

If he stays healthy for the duration of his next contract, Karlsson could go down as one of the top defensemen of this era.

By trading with the Ottawa Senators for Karlsson last offseason, San Jose received a valuable piece in defense that could be a key factor in its push for its elusive championship.

If he hits the open market, he will have plenty of teams hunting for his signature, including the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa, two squads the player hopes put in competitive offers, per Don Brennan of the Ottawa Sun.

Other suitors could emerge because of the amount of cap space they possess. The Colorado Avalanche, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Florida Panthers are among those fitting that description.

The ability to win in San Jose should intrigue Karlsson, but if he is looking for a new challenge, there will be plenty of offers on the table for him.

                        

Artemi Panarin 

Artemi Panarin is one of a few free agents who appear to be on their way out of the Columbus Blue Jackets in the offseason.

Paul Vernon/Associated Press

TSN's Pierre LeBrun reported Thursday that Columbus has not given permission to any teams to talk to Panarin or goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.

LeBrun also added that there appears to be no chance of a sign-and-trade deal for one of the Blue Jackets stars before the unrestricted free-agency interview period opens June 23.

Panarin is one of the most coveted free-agent forwards because he has reeled off four consecutive seasons with 25 or more goals.

The 27-year-old improved his point total in each of his two seasons in Columbus, with the highest total of his career coming in the 2018-19 season.

Just like Karlsson, Panarin will have a large group of suitors to choose from, with teams like Florida, the Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings, the New York Rangers and others looking to use their cap space on the Russian left winger.

                      

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90Statistics obtained from Hockey Reference.

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