NHL Free Agents 2019: Rumors, Predictions for Joe Pavelski, Mike Smith, More

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistJune 28, 2019

Veteran Joe Pavelski appears ready to take advantage of the free-agent market.
Veteran Joe Pavelski appears ready to take advantage of the free-agent market.Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

Free-agency season is at hand in the NHL, and the landscape of the league is likely to change dramatically as big-name players change teams at a rapid pace.

Several of the top unrestricted free agents finished the season with the Columbus Blue Jackets. High-scoring Artemi Panarin, goalie Sergei Bobrovsky and rental player Matt Duchene will command a large share of the headlines.

Joe Pavelski of the San Jose Sharks is bound to be one of the top free agents, and Sarah Goldstein of The Athletic reported he has met with the Dallas Stars and that a visit to the Tampa Bay Lightning was also on the horizon.

Pavelski is one of the league's most highly skilled forwards when it comes to tipping in and redirecting pucks, as well as jumping on rebounds near the crease. He will turn 35 shortly, and he is coming off a 38-goal, 64-point season for the Sharks.

The right wing has played for the Sharks throughout his 13-year career, and he has scored 355 goals and 761 points. Barring injury, he will reach the 1,000-game mark in 2019-20. He has played 963 games for San Jose.

While Bobrovsky is the top goalie available in free agency, teams will be able to find several competent netminders during the signing season.

One of those is Mike Smith, who has played for four teams in his 13-year career. Those teams include the Stars, Lightning, Arizona Coyotes and, most recently, the Calgary Flames.

The 37-year-old had a 40-23-16 record in 2018-19 with a 2.72 goals-against average and an .898 save percentage. He has a 243-236-68 career record with a 2.70 GAA and a .912 save percentage.

Smith and the Edmonton Oilers have already made a connection, per Frank Servalli of TSN.com.

Servalli also noted Petr Mrazek of the Carolina Hurricanes could be an option for the Oilers, and if the Czech signed with Edmonton, Smith and the Hurricanes could engage in talks. 

Duchene, who came to the Blue Jackets from the Ottawa Senators shortly before February's trade deadline, appears determined to get the best deal he can.

The 28-year-old has already spoken with the Montreal Canadiens and was scheduled to meet with the Nashville Predators, per Goldstein.

Duchene put up a combined 31 goals and 39 assists for the Senators and Blue Jackets last season, and he has 232 goals and 547 points in his 10 years in the NHL. He spent the majority of his career with the Colorado Avalanche prior to moving to Ottawa in November 2017.