Top NHL Free Agents & Where They Fit

By Kevin Allen USA Today Sports

 

The NHL free agent signing period starts Saturday at 12 p.m. ET, and teams began talking to potential signees today.

Here is a look at the most intriguing unrestricted free agents in the class:

1. Right wing Alexander Radulov: According to reports, Radulov, 30, is seeking a long-term deal worth $7 million per season. If he insists on that level of payment, his options will limited. The Canadiens are considering moving Alex Galchenyuk. That decision will influence their thinking on Radulov, who is a difference-maker up front. Good fit: Canadiens

2. Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk: He’s the best offensive defenseman in the market, and that alone will make him a big-ticket signing. His defensive flaws showed in the playoffs, but he can quarterback a power play and move the puck out of the defensive zone. Good fit: Boston Bruins

MORE NHL:

These 6 NHL teams have work to do before free agency
NHL Draft: Six under the radar moves from day one
NHL draft 2017: Winners, losers from a wild week (through Round 1)
3. Defenseman Brendan Smith: In terms of the number of teams interested, Smith could be the hottest UFA. He could attract half of the league because he should be reasonably priced. He showed his value after the Detroit Red Wings dealt him to the New York Rangers at the trade deadline. Smith can defend, contribute offensively, play a feisty game and be a quality teammate. Good fit: Rangers

4. Center Joe Thornton: It’s still possible Thornton, 37, will return to San Jose, but the Sharks have opened the door to his possible departure by allowing him to talk to other teams. His numbers were down last season, but he still had 43 assists and 50 points in 79 games. Thornton is also coming off of surgery to a torn ACL and MCL. He still can serve as an elite set-up artist and leader. Good fit: St. Louis Blues or Nashville Predators

5. Left wing Patrick Marleau: The return of Marleau to San Jose is also a possibility. At 37, he is still producing at a high level. He has scored 104 goals over the past four seasons, including 27 in 2016-17. Can still skate and score. Good fit: Dallas Stars

6. Right wing Justin Williams: Consistent 20-goal scorer with multiple Stanley Cup championships. Proven playoff performer. Perfect for a team looking to get over the top. Good fit: Predators

7. Center Martin Hanzal: He’s a 6-foot-6, 225-pound center who can 20 goals. That’s all you need to know to understand his desirability. Good fit: Canadiens or Predators

8. Center Nick Bonino: Valued member of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ championship team. Ideal No. 3 center because he can kill penalties, block shots and contribute offensively. Has the skill to be a No. 2. Good fit: Predators

9. Defenseman Trevor Daley: He could be a desirable consolation prize for a team that doesn’t land Shattenkirk. He can skate, move the puck and play on the power play. He also won’t break the bank. Don’t rule out Daley circling back to talk to the Penguins. Daley and the Penguins were comfortable with each other. Good fit: Detroit Red Wings

10. Left wing Thomas Vanek: Smart offensive player with 20-goal potential. At 33, he offers moderately priced scoring. Friendly presence in the dressing room. Good fit: New Jersey Devils

11. Left wing Chris Kunitz: With Stanley Cup championships on his resume, Kunitz could be a valuable leader and performer for a team on the rise. He seems to have the ability to step up in the postseason.  At 37, he can’t expect multiple years. But he should have options. Good fit: Toronto Maple Leafs

12. Center Brian Boyle: Ultimate checking center. He’s a 6-foot-6 behemoth who can play physical and chip in clutch goals: Good fit: Columbus Blue Jackets

13. Defenseman Michael Stone: The market for defensemen has been complicated by the Vegas Golden Knights' cache of blueliners they need to move. But Stone, 27, is 6-foot-3 and is more offensively skilled than people realize. Consistently effective. Good fit: Washington Capitals

14. Goalie Brian Elliott: Because of the expansion draft and the Flames and Stars moving early on goalies, there’s a limited market for free agents. The Philadelphia Flyers need a No. 1, and the Buffalo Sabres and Winnipeg Jets might make a move. Steve Mason and Ryan Miller are other goalies with no jobs yet, although Miller wants to say in the West. No goalie has much leverage in this situation. Good fit: Flyers

15. Right wing Radim Vrbata: Has scored as many as 31 goals in a season. Posted 20 goals and 55 points last season.  Good fit: Arizona Coyotes

© 2017 USATODAY.COM


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment
More Stories