One of the more exciting offseason events is free agency on July 1st. Some of the league’s top players will test the market to play for a new team under a new contract. For some teams it is exciting to see who will be acquired. As for others, it is a nerve-wracking time, as there is potential to lose a key piece of their team. As of now, Matt Duchene is linked to the Nashville Predators. Here is the NHL’s top free agents this coming July 1st.
Arguably one of the best defenseman in this year’s free agency, Jake Gardiner has been a Maple Leaf for his entire eight-year career. He’s put up 45 goals and a total of 245 points. It’s clear he is more of a defensive-defenseman, but still has some offense in his game. He currently has a cap hit of 4.05 million dollars. Possible teams that could use his aid are the Maple Leafs or the Carolina Hurricanes.
The crafty, five-foot-eight Norwegian playmaker, Mats Zuccarello has officially made it known that he will not be returning to the Dallas Stars. Zuccarello made an instant impact for the Stars, scoring a goal and an assist in his debut with the team. He spent the first nine years of his career with the New York Rangers.
Unbreakable bonds were made with Zuccarello and some of the Ranger’s players. Rangers goalie, Henrik Lundqvist held back tears as he explained the feeling of watching a good friend get traded away. Zuccarello’s return to the Rangers is possible. The list is endless of teams that could use his skills. He currently has a cap hit of 4.5 million dollars. The Colorado Avalanche and the Florida Panthers are great fits for Zuccarello.
The best goalie to hit the market is without a doubt Sergei Bobrovsky. After becoming the Columbus Blue Jacket’s starting goalie for the past seven seasons, the Russian goal tender has already been in contact with other clubs around the league. He just finished talking with the Florida Panthers and is on the move to interview with a team in New York. Bobrovsky has a cap hit of 6.2 million dollars, but his play reflects that payment amount. He has a 255-153-37 all-time record, a .919 save percentage and a 2.46 goals against average. Bob is an exceptional goalie hands down. It is tough to pin-point an exact landing spot; he has that much value.
Since making his NHL debut in 2016, Mitch Marner has since then put up 67 goals and 224 points. The centerman is becoming one of the league’s best playmakers as a majority of his points are assists. He can still score himself though. With free agency coming up, it has officially become #MarnerWatch around the league. He recently turned down a 10 million-per-year contract with the Maple Leafs. Unless he re-signs with the Leafs, Marner will officially hit the free market.
At just 22 years old, Marner has made it known that he is worth at the least 11 million per year. It has been salary cap hell for GM Kyle Dubas and the Maple Leafs and Marner isn’t making it any easier on them. If he isn’t traded by July 1st, the Leafs lose him to free agency and it’ll be a huge bidding-war for the Marner sweepstakes. He is another player that is hard to pin-point a location for. Anyone who will pay his 11 million will surely acquire him.
The 34-year-old veteran center is set to hit the market! Joe Pavelski has spent his entire 13-year-long career with the San Jose Sharks. With a current six million dollar cap hit, the American has an impressive resume. He has 355 goals and 761 total career points in under 1,000 games. He has a career total of 55 percent on faceoff wins. If any team is in dire need of faceoff wins, this guy is one of the best to pursue. Top suiters linked to his name are the Chicago Blackhawks, Arizona Coyotes, Tampa Bay Lightning and Dallas Stars.
Another Shark is set to hit the market. The 6-foot-4 center has played 21 seasons, split between the Boston Bruins and the San Jose Sharks. He’s scored 413 goals and 1,478 total points. He is a massive body to have in front of the net and can set up some nice assists.
In a recent off-season interview with Thorton, he’s stated that he wants to play another 10 years. “I’ve got nothing else going on,” he said. The Canadian is quite the character and has been a fan-favorite in San Jose. This is why it is unlikely he leaves. However, he is still an available asset.
Simmonds, 26, is a phenomenal goal scorer. In 841 games, he has scored 243 goals and 474 total points. This reflects his game on both ends of the offense. He can score goals as well as set goals up for his teammates. He has 11 seasons under his belt, playing for the LA Kings, Philadelphia Flyers, and recently the Nashville Predators. Simmonds isn’t a afraid to get gritty either. He is a tough opponent and will drop the gloves with anyone who crosses him or his team wrongly. The Right Winger has a cap hit of five million dollars.
Every team’s top prize this offseason is without a doubt Artemi Panarin. He was signed as an undrafted free agent by Chicago in 2015. Panarin has been in the league for four years split equally between Chicago and Columbus. He’s scored many highlight-reel goals in his career so far. In 322 games 116 goals and 320 total points. His play truly does reflect him being a point-per-game style player. He is crafty, reads the game incredibly well, and has an endless amount of moves up his sleeves. It is rumored that he is interviewing with the Florida Panthers along with his teammate Sergei Bobrovsky. He has a current cap hit of six million, but that is sure to increase.
So those are the top free agents in the NHL in the 2019 offseason. Surprises are sure to occur, but it is still an exciting time for some teams and a nerve-wracking for others.