The NHL offseason brings with it new opportunities for certain players. And for some free agents, it marks the first time in their careers they may be preparing to join different franchises.
That will be the case for some of the top defensemen set to become free agents this offseason, as several have stayed with the same teams during their NHL careers. Alex Pietrangelo and Torey Krug have each played for only one team. Tyson Barrie, meanwhile, spent eight of his first nine seasons in the league with just one franchise.
Here are predictions for where these top defensemen who are set to become free agents will land this offseason.
After spending his first eight seasons with the Colorado Avalanche, Tyson Barrie was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs last summer. Though he was a key part of Toronto's defense and helped it to stay in the thick of the playoff race up to the point the NHL was suspended in March, his numbers are somewhat underwhelming.
With the Leafs set to be up against the cap and Barrie headed for free agency, this could end up being Barrie's only season with the Maple Leafs. And as a 28-year-old defenseman who has provided consistent play throughout his career, there should be plenty of suitors if he does not to re-sign with Toronto.
Although Barrie has had plenty of ice time, his points total has been down this season. He has 39 points (five goals and 34 assists) in 70 games, on pace for his lowest total since 2016-17. What's more, there were also rumors the Maple Leafs would him before the trade deadline. And although that never materialized, it could be a sign of things to come for Barrie.
One potential fit for him could be the Vancouver Canucks, a strong team that could get better defensively. That would give Barrie a chance to have success while Vancouver would address a need that can help it to bolster its chances of contending in the coming years.
Prediction: Barrie signs with Vancouver.
Alex Pietrangelo will be the best defenseman on the free-agent market this offseason—if he makes it to the summer without signing a new contract with the St. Louis Blues, that is.
Over his 12-year NHL career, Pietrangelo has only played for the Blues, and he's enjoyed plenty of success. He's a two-time All-Star and captained St. Louis to the Stanley Cup in 2019. He's also been consistent, playing in at least 70 games in each non-lockout-shortened season since 2010-11 while scoring at least 30 points eight times during that span.
If Pietrangelo doesn't work out a deal with the Blues and decides to field offers during free agency, there will be a lot of teams interested in signing him. The 30-year-old would not only offer a defensive boost but also provide veteran leadership and experience of having success.
However, that's unlikely to happen. St. Louis will work out a deal with Pietrangelo, perhaps even before he becomes a free agent, and he will continue his career in the place where it began.
Prediction: Pietrangelo re-signs with St. Louis.
Torey Krug is a strong defenseman, but he also excels at getting involved offensively. Before the season was suspended, he was on pace to post his fourth straight 50-point season, as he had nine goals and 40 assists in 61 games.
Krug has spent the first nine seasons of his NHL career with the Boston Bruins, and he's steadily improved over that time. His best year came in 2017-18, when he had a career-high 59 points (14 goals and 45 assists). He maintained his strong play in 2018-19, recording 53 points in 64 games.
Because he's never been an All-Star, Krug could be viewed as one of the more underrated defensemen in the league. Despite that, Krug's next contract should make more than the $5.5 million he has brought in during each of the past two seasons.
The Bruins should have enough cap space to bring back Krug and give him a raise, and both sides may be interested in continuing the relationship. Krug has helped Boston to be a successful franchise in recent years, and both parties may believe their best chances at glory depend on sticking together.
Prediction: Krug re-signs with Boston.
Contract and salary-cap information according to Spotrac.