NHL Free Agency 2021: Rumors, Predictions for Dougie Hamilton, Ryan Suter, More

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorJuly 28, 2021

Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton (19) plays against the Nashville Predators during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, May 8, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
Mark Zaleski/Associated Press

NHL free agency will begin on Wednesday at noon ET.

The Colorado Avalanche, who are the reigning Presidents' Trophy holders following their 82-point season, took care of some business in advance by reportedly agreeing to bring back left wing and captain Gabriel Landeskog on an eight-year, $56 million contract, per Pierre LeBrun of TSN and The Athletic.

Colorado has another decision to make regarding goaltender Philipp Grubauer, who is set to enter free agency.

We'll soon find out his fate alongside other big names, including defensemen in the Carolina Hurricanes' Dougie Hamilton and the Minnesota Wild's Ryan Suter.

Hamilton was ranked as the top free agent on the 2021 market by Dom Luszczyszyn of The Athletic, Matt Larkin of The Hockey News and Mike Brehm of USA Today, among others.

Suter is set to cash in during free agency before his 17th NHL season, and he has multiple teams interested in his services.

Here's a look at the latest information on all three players alongside picks for their landing spots.


Colorado Avalanche G Philipp Grubauer

It would be in Colorado's best interest to retain Grubauer, although TSN's Bob McKenzie reported the two sides still have a gap to work through. He also noted some potential backup plans.

Bob McKenzie @TSNBobMcKenzie

If Grubauer goes to market, what’s COL’s Plan B? Trade for Darcy Kuemper? Sign UFA Braden Holtby? VAN needs a partner for Thatcher Demko and UFA Jaro Halak, as @PierreVLeBrun reported, is a primary target for the Canucks. 🎯

The fact that Grubauer loves Colorado helps matters, and the two sides were scheduled to talk more Tuesday, per LeBrun:

Pierre LeBrun @PierreVLeBrun

The Avs are scheduled to talk again today with Grubauer’s camp led by agent Allain Roy. Both sides trying to bridge the gap. The goalie loves it in Colorado. But can they get a deal done? 🤷‍♂️ @TSNHockey @TheAthletic

Grubauer just finished a career-best year after serving as Colorado's netminder for the third straight season, earning a 30-9-1 record, 92.2 save percentage and 1.95 GAA.

His NHL-leading seven shutouts helped Grubauer finish third in the voting for the Vezina Trophy, which was won by then-Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.

Grubauer, who will turn 30 years old in November, naturally played a big part in Colorado allowing the third-fewest goals in the league. He should garner plenty of interest, though, so a return to the Avs isn't set in stone.

However, the guess here is that Grubauer remains with the Avalanche as they look to win their first Stanley Cup since 2001.


Carolina Hurricanes D Dougie Hamilton

Hamilton's three-year run with the Hurricanes appears to be over.

Per Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic, Hamilton is set to enter free agency, and the New Jersey Devils look like the front-runners:

Pierre LeBrun @PierreVLeBrun

Meanwhile, sources confirm Dougie Hamilton is going to market. Unless something drastic changes, he's not re-signing in Carolina. The New Jersey Devils looking like front-runners but we'll see Wednesday when the market opens. @TSNHockey @TheAthletic

Over the last two seasons, Hamilton has amassed 24 goals, 58 assists and a plus-50 mark in 102 games.

The 'Canes reached the playoffs in each of Hamilton's three years in town, including an Eastern Conference Finals berth in 2019. Carolina also finished No. 6 in fewest goals allowed in 2018-19 and 2019-20 and No. 4 last year.

It won't be easy to land him, as TSN's Darren Dreger reported that Hamilton is expecting to command a massive salary:

Darren Dreger @DarrenDreger

Dougie Hamilton has to be looking at $ 8 mil to $9 mil range. Carlson, OEL and Pietrangelo are decent comps on 7 and 8 year terms.

But the Devils may be willing to meet that price. Elliotte Friedman notably predicted Hamilton heading to New Jersey in a July 25 piece for Sportsnet. The Devils have the cap space to get it done with over $31.5 million to spare (fourth-most in the league), per Cap Friendly.

The Devils struggled on both ends of the ice last year, finishing 26th in goals scored and 28th in goals allowed. Hamilton figures to help on both ends as New Jersey looks to rebound from a season where it scored the NHL's third-fewest points with 45.

This appears to be a no-brainer. Look for Hamilton to sign a massive deal with the Devils as they try to return to prominence.


Minnesota Wild D Ryan Suter 

The Dallas Stars just missed the playoffs one year after making the Stanley Cup Final, and they appear ready to make a big move to shore up the blue line.

Per McKenzie, there's been a lot of talk connecting Suter and the Stars:

Bob McKenzie @TSNBobMcKenzie

Meanwhile, nothing official by any means, but lots of chatter about Ryan Suter and DAL. Suter, of course, also bought out by MIN at same time as Parise. DAL looking to replace Jamie Oleksiak.

Dan Murphy of Sportsnet expressed a similar sentiment and also outlined some contract parameters that could get a deal done:

Dan Murphy @sportsnetmurph

Plenty out there linking Ryan Suter to the Dallas Stars. They are pursuing hard. Suter’s camp wants 4 years and the AAV will likely have to be in the mid to high 3 million range to get it done.

Dan Murphy @sportsnetmurph

If there are indeed multiple teams in the mix, the winning bidder will likely have to go that 4-year term.

Saad Yousuf of The Athletic reported last Saturday that the Boston Bruins, New York Islanders, Stars and Avalanche were interested in bringing Suter aboard.

All four of those teams are in position to contend for deep playoff runs. The Bruins and Avs both made the second round, and the Islanders made the Stanley Cup semifinals.

The Stars missed the playoffs last year partially because they were the victims of horrible luck, going 6-14 in games that went into overtime this season. They fell short of the playoffs by four points.

Suter could be the missing piece the Stars need to return to the postseason, and the latest chatter appears to have Dallas at the forefront here.

The pick is for Suter to head to Dallas as the team looks to return to the Western Conference playoffs.