2020 NHL Free Agents: Projected Landing Spots for Top Players

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistAugust 9, 2020

Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby (70) makes a save on a shot by Arizona Coyotes left wing Taylor Hall (91) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

Though the NHL still has 17 teams alive in the hunt for the Stanley Cup, it's never too soon to begin analyzing what may happen this offseason.

Here is a look at some of the top free agents and predictions for their destinations.

                

LW Taylor Hall

Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

While it's possible Taylor Hall winds up staying with the Arizona Coyotes, a departure is the likeliest outcome if he wants to hoist a Stanley Cup. He's earned a considerable number of individual honors, with five All-Star selections and a 2018 Hart Trophy on his mantle.

However, a Cup probably isn't heading to Arizona anytime soon, with a middling core and no top-flight prospects coming through. That leaves Hall walking into a murky free-agent market with one obvious suitor standing above the rest: the Nashville Predators.

The Predators have been pushing to hoist the Cup since making the Final in 2017, but they have fallen short of expectations in the past two years despite having a loaded roster—including being defeated by Hall's Coyotes in the qualifying round this postseason.

Hall, 28, could be the piece to put them over the top, and the Preds should have enough space to fit him under the cap.

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Prediction: Signs with the Predators.

                        

Alex Pietrangelo

The St. Louis Blues have put it in no uncertain terms: They want to bring back Alex Pietrangelo.

"Our goal is to try and get Petro signed," general manager Doug Armstrong told reporters in April. "We were gonna need a player like Marco [Scandella], with or without Petro. And now we have that done, but we still want to sign Petro."

The problem: They might not have the cap space to pull it off. The Blues are expected to be near the projected cap when the offseason begins, per CapFriendly, and would probably have to unload at least two players to re-sign Pietrangelo, the top defenseman set to hit the open market.

The 30-year-old won't have a bevy of options, so his next destination will come down to what he wants over the next few years. The Ottawa Senators and New Jersey Devils have the money available to make him a marquee signing, but neither has much in the way of Cup hopes in the near future.

The best answer may be the New York Rangers or Montreal Canadiens, who might not be willing to pony up the same amount of money but do have some space and competitive teams.

Montreal is a strong bet if Pietrangelo wants to return to Canada.

Prediction: Signs with the Canadiens.

                 

G Braden Holtby

This hasn't exactly been the contract year Braden Holtby had in mind.

The Washington Capitals goaltender posted a 25-14-6 record with a 3.11 goals-against average and .897 save percentage during the regular season, with the latter two stats being career-worst numbers.

While there is still time for Holtby to increase his value during the playoffs, his best bet may be taking a one-year contract and returning to Washington in 2020-21.

The overwhelming odds are in favor of the 30-year-old returning to form next season and being able to find a more lucrative deal the following summer.

Prediction: Stays with the Capitals.