Now weeks past the start of free agency, there are players left on the board many NHL insiders are surprised to still see have gone unsigned. Sure, some of these players are holding out for better offers, but many are waiting simply because the offers aren’t there. A tight salary cap has left NHL franchises with little flexibility and certainly no money to make mistakes. As such, hockey clubs are being cautious.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t great buys still out there. In fact, there are a handful of free agents teams should be considering because of the fact they are still available at this stage in the game.
Removing players like Mike Hoffman, Anthony Duclair and Erik Haula from the list because buzz is they’re holding out for the right money, which free agents are good bets and could outplay their salaries next season once signed?
Teams aren’t totally sure which player they’ll be getting if they sign Mikael Granlund. In Minnesota, he was a top-line winger and produced at high pace, well worth an investment if he’s available at the right price. Unfortunately, in Nashville, he wasn’t nearly as productive scoring just 38 points in 89 games. Is this about the Predators or the player?
Kyle Turris was stifled offensively in Nashville as well and insiders can’t explain why he failed either. Kevin Fiala, scored 3.88 points per hour on the power play with the Predators, but doubled that rate to 7.06 points per 60 minutes in Minnesota. Matt Duchene has struggled and the list goes on and on.
There is a chance he’s asking for too much money, but if he isn’t, he’d be a good bet to rebound.
If you want or need a center who can do a little bit of everything, look no further than Carl Soderberg. It’s a bit surprising he’s still on the market considering he’s solid in so many efficiencies.
He’s not young at 35, but he can score, play two-way hockey, kill penalties and move the puck. He’s got size at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds and he’s good in front of the net. For teams that haven’t done much and have a little room, on a short-term deal, he’d be an excellent fill in to add depth.
Either teams are scared off of Sami Vatanen because of his injury issues or he’s not getting much love because he’s asking for too much money despite his injury issues. If it’s the former, a healthy season from Vatanen could be a real win for an NHL club willing to take a bit of a chance on a former top-four defenceman.
He’s certainly not a top-two option and he’s not going to give you tough minutes, but he’s willing to sign a bit of a “prove it” deal in a more sheltered role, he could be quite useful. Teams that haven’t solved the blue line issues should probably be picking up the phone.
At the end of the day, he’s a right-handed skilled defencemen. That’s of value in the NHL and if he plays well, he’s an asset that can be moved at the trade deadline.
Dominik Kahun should find a job somewhere, and when he does, there might be some GMs looking at his deal and wondering why they didn’t take a chance at that price point.
He’s an effective middle-six forward with two-way ability and the ability to pot a few goals every season. Most of his points come at even strength which is a huge plus for coaches and while smaller, he’s reliable against top players. He can play all three forward positions and he’s still young.
He’s certainly not a top-level goalie at this stage in the game, but he’s publicly said he’s going to try and keep playing hockey until someone tells him he’s no longer wanted. That means he’s primed to sign a deal at the NHL minimum and could prove to be a valued leader and decent backup on a team that has questions in goal.
He’s a better fit on a team that has a good starter but doesn’t want to run that starter for a ton of games in a shortened season.
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