NHL Free Agents 2020: Latest Buzz on Alex Pietrangelo, Zdeno Chara and More

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistMarch 16, 2020

Alex Pietrangelo
Alex PietrangeloJeff Roberson/Associated Press

Whether the NHL will resume the 2019-20 season remains unknown, but free agency is looming no matter what happens. With no games being played, most updates emerging from the hockey world will be focused on offseason topics.

Among the standouts heading to the open market this summer, Alex Pietrangelo will be one of the most coveted. The 30-year-old is in the prime of his career, having already scored a personal-best 16 goals this season. Plus, with 52 points, the defenseman is on pace to eclipse his previous high of 54.

Since the league has reached a standstill, though, wouldn't it be sensible for the St. Louis Blues to engage in extension talks? "His agency seems determined to play this out so he can test the market," Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Based on the latest cap projections, the Blues can handle some competition for Pietrangelo this summer. However, the potential for lost revenue amid the coronavirus-related postponement looms large.

"And here is a big complication: How will the shutdown impact revenues and the salary cap for next season?" Gordon added. "The early read had the cap going up significantly for next season. If that changes, it could really make things tight for the Blues."

Depending on the final cap numbers, Pietrangelo should land a contract with an annual value between $8.5 million and $10 million.

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Zdeno Chara won't command a deal anywhere near as expensive, but he's still a key player for the Boston Bruins.

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - FEBRUARY 25: Zdeno Chara #33 of the Boston Bruins looks on during the second period of the game against the Calgary Flames at TD Garden on February 25, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Set to turn 43 on Wednesday, the veteran is headed to free agency. It seems likely he is deciding between a return to Boston or retiring. Similar to Pietrangelo, though, progress won't happen until the summer.

"Not thinking about it right now," his agent, Matt Keator, said, per Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe. "Something we'll all sit down with at the end of the year—Z, me, [Bruins general manager] Don Sweeney—and figure out what's next."

Thanks to his incredible reach, strength and instincts, Chara remains a top-pairing defenseman. As you would expect from a 22-year veteran, he occasionally struggles with speed, but the Bruins certainly have a place for him if he wants to return.

That's the big question only Chara can answer.

As league-leading Boston hopes for the season to resume, the Chicago Blackhawks should be starting to think about the summer. After flirting with a return to the wild-card picture, the March 6 loss to the Detroit Red Wings likely crushed those dreams.

Fortunately for Chicago fans, there is some good news.

"Dominik Kubalik's next contract will continue to be one of the Blackhawks' priorities heading into the offseason," Scott Powers and Mark Lazerus of The Athletic reported.

The 24-year-old winger has tallied 30 goals and 16 assists in his debut season, emerging as a second-tier Rookie of the Year candidate. Not bad for someone playing on a one-year contract worth $925,000.

Kubalik deserves a considerable raise this summer, and Chicago cannot afford to lose his production.


Follow Bleacher Report writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.