2021 NHL Free Agents: Latest Rumors and Predictions for Notable Names

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistJuly 10, 2021

2021 NHL Free Agents: Latest Rumors and Predictions for Notable Names

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    The 2021 Stanley Cup Final is over. The Tampa Bay Lightning closed out the series on Wednesday with a 1-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens, unofficially kicking off the NHL offseason.

    While free agency isn't slated to begin until July 28, teams and players are already putting together game plans. All 32 of the league's franchises—including the Seattle Kraken, which will debut in 2021-2022—want to be where the Lightning are a year from now. Players will hope to eventually be where Tampa Bay's stars are during Monday's boat parade—hoisting the Stanley Cup.

    What moves might help put teams and players where they want to be? Let's take a look at the latest free-agent buzz.

Taylor Hall

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    Boston Bruins winger Taylor Hall is one of the biggest names slated to hit the open market. He was traded to Boston before the deadline and could remain there for the foreseeable future.

    According to TSN's Darren Dreger, the Bruins are "engaged in discussions" with Hall's agent, Darren Ferris. Per Dreger, Hall is interested in making a return.

    "There are a lot of teams with interest in but he'd like to extend his time in Boston," Dreger wrote.

    There should indeed be plenty of interest around the league in Hall after he revitalized his career over the latter stretch of the season in Boston. However, Hall may not be interested in playing anywhere else this season. Boston was his preferred choice at the trade deadline.

    "As we got to yesterday, it got to a point where Taylor felt that Boston was the team that he wanted to go to, so we focused our attention there," Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams said after the trade, per Paul Hamilton of WGR 550.

    If Hall is where he wants to be, it would only make sense for him to stay there.

    Prediction: Hall re-signs with Boston before the start of free agency

Dougie Hamilton

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton is another big name who could reach the open market. A second-team All-Star this past season, Hamilton is slated to reach free agency.

    However, Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet and the NHL Network reported last month that the Hurricanes gave Hamilton permission to talk to other teams about a possible sign-and-trade. As Friedman explained, this should give Hamilton some flexibility in his approach to free agency.

    "Allows Hamilton to see if the Hurricanes do make the best offer for him…potentially allowing for a return if he doesn’t like what he sees out there. Very interesting manoeuvre by team and player," Friedman tweeted.

    This is a smart move by Carolina, which would undoubtedly prefer to keep Hamilton. If the Hurricanes aren't willing to give Hamilton the best offer on the market, they may still be able to get something of value in the process.

    There should be plenty of interest in Hamilton, so a sign-and-trade is a very real possibility.

    Prediction: Whether to keep or trade, Carolina re-signs Hamilton

Adam Larsson

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    Nick Didlick/Associated Press

    Defenseman Adam Larsson has been a member of the Edmonton Oilers since the franchise traded for him in 2016. It appears likely that his time with the organization will continue.

    According to Daniel Nugent-Bowman of The Athletic, Larsson could re-sign soon

    "As soon as next week," Nugent-Bowman wrote on July 1.

    Per Nugent-Bowman, Larsson is the priority for general manager Ken Holland over fellow defenseman Tyson Barrie.

    "Holland said he only wants to re-sign Larsson or Barrie—not both. It's clear he’s spoken much more frequently to Larsson's agent, [J.P.] Barry, of late than Barrie’s representative, Pat Brisson," Nugent-Bowman wrote.

    So, while Larsson could be back under contract any day now, Barrie is likely headed to the free-agent market—if the Oilers are indeed interested in bringing back only one of the two.

    Prediction: Edmonton re-signs Larsson before the start of free agency