NHL Free Agency 2020: Rumors and Predictions Based on Offseason Buzz
The majority of the top NHL free agents have found homes since they were allowed to sign deals Oct. 9.
Former Florida Panthers wing Mike Hoffman is the exception to that trend and is the top unsigned free agent on the market.
The 30-year-old's decision-making process has not been caused by a lack of offers. There is still plenty of interest in the forward because of his scoring prowess.
While Hoffman remains the top unsigned target, some teams are looking elsewhere to fill roster spots, including the Calgary Flames, who are reportedly in the hunt to land one of the defensemen still on the market.
According to The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun, plenty of teams have interest in Hoffman but the offers have not been good enough to land the top unsigned free agent.
"Teams have continued to call about Hoffman," LeBrun wrote. "Try a dozen or so, five or six seriously, another six or seven more on the periphery. They've all checked in with Hoffman's camp, led by agent Rob Hooper of Octagon, but the offers so far have been bargain city."
LeBrun also noted that Hoffman's camp is willing to be patient to land the best offer possible.
Hoffman had the most goals in the 2019-20 season of any free agent in a class that was headlined by Taylor Hall, who landed with the Buffalo Sabres.
The 30-year-old produced at least 20 goals in each of the past six seasons and had 129 points in his two years with the Florida Panthers.
Florida could circle back to Hoffman and work out a deal to avoid losing both him and Evgenii Dadonov, who signed with the Ottawa Senators, in free agency.
The team's strategy at the start of the free-agent period was to land forward depth. It did that by bringing in Alexander Wennberg, Carter Verhaeghe, Vinnie Hinostroza and Ryan Lomberg. The Panthers also acquired Patric Hornqvist in a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
If the Panthers bring back Hoffman, they could have a decent top tier of scoring talent backed up by the depth brought in this offseason.
The Nashville Predators could be one of the options for Hoffman, as they were one of the many teams that missed out on signing Hall. The Preds could use more scoring after they let Craig Smith and Mikael Granlund walk in free agency.
Prediction: Hoffman lands back with Florida.
Flames Looking for Right-Sided Defenseman
According to TSN's Darren Dreger, Calgary is in the market for an experienced, right-sided defenseman.
"It's more likely they do that via trade than free agency, but everything is possible at this point," Dreger said.
If the Flames turn to the free-agent market to fill that need, they would find a few familiar faces left without a team in Travis Hamonic and Michael Stone.
Hamonic played the past three seasons with the Flames, while Stone was with the franchise from the start of the 2016-17 season until this summer.
Deryk Engelland, who spent three years in Calgary before joining the Vegas Golden Knights in 2017, could be another option to consider through the free-agent route.
Sami Vatanen is the marquee name left on the defense market, but the Flames may not have enough salary-cap room to bring him in—CapFriendly projects they are just $1 million below the cap. Calgary should not feel the need to land a top defender after it signed free agent Chris Tanev earlier in October.
Hamonic may be the best option of the group since he only turned 30 in August and can bring a bit of an offensive punch to the Calgary blue line. He had 12 points in 50 games last season and recorded a pair of double-digit assist seasons before that in Calgary.
If the two sides are willing to make a deal, it could bolster the Flames' defensive depth and would allow them to avoid giving up much in a trade. Hamonic, meanwhile, would have some security instead of lingering on the market for a few more weeks.
Prediction: Calgary turns to Hamonic for defensive depth.
Statistics obtained from Hockey Reference.