NHL Free Agency 2020: Latest Buzz on Taylor Hall, Oilers, Avalanche, MoreMay 3, 2020
Taylor Hall is a former NHL MVP. Alex Pietrangelo is a Stanley Cup champion who has also served as the St. Louis Blues captain since 2016. And this offseason, both are likely to be among the top players on the free-agent market.
While the NHL season is suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic, it's not too early to look ahead to see which top stars could switch teams this offseason. Hall and Pietrangelo could be the summer's top prizes, as both are slated to become unrestricted free agents.
Here's some of the latest buzz surrounding several top players.
Could Oilers Pursue Hall in Free Agency?
For teams that could afford it, who wouldn't want to add a former Hart Trophy winner who is only 28?
Taylor Hall is poised to be one of the top players on the free-agent market, and there should be numerous teams looking to add the talented left winger. One of those could be one of his former teams, the Edmonton Oilers, as The Athletic's Allan Mitchell and Jonathan Willis recently speculated.
It could depend on how much Hall will cost, especially if the NHL's salary cap doesn't go up because of the pandemic. The Oilers also have forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins set to become a free agent after the 2020-21 season, so they may need to find a way to also sign him to an extension.
"They've got a good group now, Hall makes them a lot better, so roll the dice," Willis wrote. "Assuming you can do it for $8.5 million, that is, which is still a pretty big if."
Hall played the first six seasons of his NHL career with the Oilers, before joining the New Jersey Devils in 2016. Perhaps a return to Edmonton could be a possibility.
Avalanche Not Interested in Pair of Top Free Agents
One team Hall might not be signing with is the Colorado Avalanche despite the fact that they seem like they a good fit.
According to Mike Chambers of the Denver Post, Colorado isn't interested in signing either Hall or Pietrangelo, noting that the franchise is more likely to develop its roster in other ways.
"The Avs will continue to build from their prospects, not free agency," Chambers wrote. "They love their top six forwards and don't have room for another right-shot defenseman, with Conor Timmins set to come up and join Cale Makar and Erik Johnson on the right side."
That approach has worked well for Colorado, as it was 42-20-8 and one of the top teams in the Western Conference when play was suspended. That record meant the Avalanche were on their way to making the playoffs for the third straight year after missing out the three seasons prior.
Who Will Senators Bring Back Next Season?
There are 13 players on the Ottawa Senators' NHL roster who don't have contracts for the 2020-21 season. Seven are set to be restricted free agents this offseason, while the other six will be unrestricted free agents.
The Athletic's Hailey Salvian recently wrote that she would bet that many of the unrestricted free agents "won't be returning." However, she noted that "there is keen interest" in the defensemen among that group, Ron Hainsey and Mark Borowiecki.
Ottawa signed KHL defenseman Artyom Zub to a contract for next season Friday, so it's possible it will bring back either Hainsey or Borowiecki instead of both. Salvian noted, though, that having defensive depth has benefited the Senators of late, so they might not have a problem with having more than six blueliners.
The Senators will also have two early selections in the NHL draft, as they also own the San Jose Sharks' first-round pick. They currently have the second- and third-best odds of landing the No. 1 pick. So they could opt to add to their defense with a top draft pick instead of bringing back one of their out-of-contract veterans.