NHL Free Agents 2019: Rumors, Predictions for Joe Pavelski, Mitch Marner, More

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJune 27, 2019

San Jose Sharks center Joe Pavelski (8) against the Chicago Blackhawks during an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., Sunday, March 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

One of the most experienced players available in NHL free agency is drawing interest from a pair of playoff teams from last season.

Joe Pavelski is visiting teams as he tries to figure out his next step after spending his entire career with the San Jose Sharks.

Mitch Marner has only played for one team in his career as well, albeit for just three years, but there is a chance he moves away from the Toronto Maple Leafs, with multiple teams reportedly interested in his signature.

Pavelski and Marner are just two of the high-profile players receiving attention ahead of the start of free agency Monday.


NHL Free-Agent Rumors and Predictions

Joe Pavelski 

According to The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun, Pavelski met with the Dallas Stars, who have serious interest in the 34-year-old, on Wednesday.

The Athletic's Kevin Kurz added to LeBrun's report and said the Tampa Bay Lightning were next up on the right wing's list of visits.

Tony Avelar/Associated Press

Pavelski is still a hot commodity because he is coming off a season in which he tallied 38 goals and 26 assists, marking the first time he scored more than 30 since 2015-16.

Unfortunately for Pavelski, he has not been able to win a championship with San Jose despite the fact that the franchise has been a contender for most of his 13 seasons in the league.

Dallas and Tampa Bay are teams with title aspirations that could get better with the addition of the veteran forward. The Stars are looking to add to a squad that was eliminated by the St. Louis Blues in the second round of the playoffs, while the Lightning are trying to bolster their star-studded roster after being swept in the first round to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Pavelski's best shot at a title could come with Tampa Bay, and if he adds his skill set to a squad hungry to avenge last season's early exit, the Lightning could be considered the title favorite for the 2019-20 season.

Prediction: Pavelski signs with Tampa Bay.


Mitch Marner

According to TSN's Darren Dreger, multiple teams have reached out about meeting with Marner, who is a restricted free agent.

Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

Toronto has already extended a qualifying offer to the 22-year-old, which means the Maple Leafs have the chance to match any offers that come in for the forward.

Marner is understandably looking for an increase in pay after making $832,500 in base salary on his rookie deal last season, per Spotrac. He has plenty of reasons to believe he deserves a raise since he totaled 94 points on 26 goals and 68 assists in 2018-19.

It would be wise of him to at least explore what is out there and make Toronto match the offers that come in.

However, it could be hard for Marner to leave Toronto, especially with the potential to form the top three-pronged attack in the league with Auston Matthews and John Tavares for years to come.

From Toronto's perspective, it should try everything in its power to keep Marner in order to maintain its upward trajectory in the Eastern Conference and contend alongside Tampa Bay and the Boston Bruins.

Prediction: Toronto matches all offer sheets and keeps Marner.


Corey Perry

According to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman, the Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins are on Corey Perry's radar, while Dallas and the Nashville Predators are possible contenders for the 34-year-old.

Perry, who spent his entire career with the Anaheim Ducks before he was bought out June 19, only in 31 games last season because of injury.

Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

The right wing still carries value on the market because of his experience and the consistently high level of production he had in Anaheim. Whichever team lands him is getting a player who recorded more than 40 points in 11 of his 13 seasons and scored 34 goals just three seasons ago.

Pittsburgh might be a better landing spot than Montreal because of its regular spot near the top of the Eastern Conference.

The Penguins have added plenty of veterans to a core headlined by Sidney Crosby in the past, but Perry does not need to go ring-chasing since he won the Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007.

If Nashville and Dallas show more interest, they could be intriguing landing spots for Perry given their positions near the top of the Western Conference.

Prediction: Perry signs with Pittsburgh. 


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.