The last weekend of June is finally here, and with it brings the start of NHL free agency. On Sunday at 11am CDT, over 100 players will become unrestricted free agents allowed to negotiate and sign a contract with any team in the league. No team will be allowed to offer them a contract longer than seven years, while $15.9MM is the highest cap hit a player can carry.
Today it’s time to unveil our Top 50 Unrestricted Free Agent List. The rankings were voted on by the PHR writing team, based on talent and projected demand, not necessarily their total dollar amounts. The group is led by a superstar that has been the talk of the entire league for some time—and could make this list out of date in quick fashion—but is relatively thin thereafter. Since John Carlson’s new extension with the Washington Capitals, we’ve seen the defense market get scraped almost entirely clean in recent days. Still, there are some important names that should draw plenty of interest.
All predictions are independent and have no bearing on each other, while each player is presumed to be signing a one-way contract. Retirement, Europe, and professional tryouts are real possibilities for many of them, but those options have not been used as predictions. The voting was done prior to the qualifying offer deadline, meaning only a few notable names from that group are included—ones that were confirmed early to be heading to UFA status. Anthony Duclair and Tobias Rieder for instance, were not included but likely would have garnered votes. Others who faced buyouts like Xavier Ouellet and Brooks Orpik were also not included in the voting, as their status was not confirmed until afterwards.
1. John Tavares – New York Islanders – 8 years, $92.0MM There’s no telling what Tavares will do after six in-person meetings this week. The 27-year old center drew the attention of nearly the whole league, but allowed just San Jose, Toronto, Dallas, Boston and Tampa Bay to come visit him at the CAA headquarters in Los Angeles. If he is going to re-sign with the Islanders, one would expect to hear news of it on Saturday before their contract advantage expires. If he lasts until Sunday, all bets are off. Signed – 7 years, $77MM with Toronto Maple Leafs
2. James van Riemsdyk – Boston Bruins – 7 years, $42.0MM If you want an instant boost to powerplay production, look no further than the 29-year old van Riemsdyk. One of the very best goal scorers in the game from within five feet of the net, he’s coming off a career-high 36 tallies in 2017-18. Though there are obvious warts in his game, it doesn’t get much better than a perennial 30-goal candidate on the open market and there could easily be a bidding war between the teams who miss out on Tavares. It wouldn’t be shocking to see his market develop on July 2nd, after teams realize how little offense is left in free agency. Signed – 5 years, $35MM with Philadelphia Flyers
3. Paul Stastny – Winnipeg Jets – 5 years, $30.0MM Stastny will ultimately be the consolation prize for whoever doesn’t get Tavares but he will still fill a key role. His days of being a legitimate number one center are gone as he’s better suited for the second line now. He’s still well above average at the faceoff dot and can kill penalties as well so even as his offensive production starts to dip over the next few years, he will still be able to play an important role for whoever signs him although the last year or two of his deal may sting a little bit. Winnipeg has been clear about their interest in bringing him back after an important playoff run for the franchise, but there’s no guarantee they can fit him in. Signed – 3 years, $19.5MM with Vegas Golden Knights
4. James Neal – New Jersey Devils – 6 years, $33.0MM It doesn’t get much more consistent than Neal, who has scored at least 21 goals in each of his ten seasons in the NHL. Though he won’t drive an offense all by himself, he’s proven throughout his career to be a key secondary scorer that can fit into several different roles. With 100 playoff games under his belt including two consecutive Stanley Cup Finals appearances, there will be teams clamoring over themselves to get on the phone with Neal on Sunday afternoon. Signed – 5 years, $28.75MM with Calgary Flames
5. David Perron – Dallas Stars – 6 years, $32.0MM Two years ago, Perron hit the open market as a secondary player but that’s not the case this time around. He led all UFAs in assists and was second in points to only Tavares which gives him the leverage to secure a long-term, big money contract. The big question teams will be asking themselves is will he be able to produce like this outside of Vegas or was his output simply part of everything that went way better than anyone expected in the Golden Knights’ inaugural season. Signed – 4 years, $16MM with St. Louis Blues
6. Rick Nash – Columbus Blue Jackets – 3 years, $14.0MM It’s tough to see Nash this high on the list, given that there is a real chance that he decides to retire due to health concerns revolving around his latest concussion. He’ll be sitting out of the July 1st festivities as he considers his options going forward, and should he decide later in the summer to return to the NHL, there may not be many teams who can afford him. A return to Columbus would be a nice end to an impressive career, but nothing is certain at this point.
7. Tyler Bozak – Vancouver Canucks – 4 years, $20.0MM One of the best undrafted NCAA signings in history, Bozak has carved out a solid career for himself with the Toronto Maple Leafs over the last nine years. With 43 points in 2017-18 he showed once again that he can contribute offensively, while still being one of the better faceoff men in the league. His defensive skills leave something to be desired, but he can help on the powerplay and is a lock for 40-50 points in a healthy season. A return to British Columbia where he played his junior hockey, or Colorado where he went to college both seem like good fits for the 32-year old center. Signed – 3 years, $15MM with St. Louis Blues
8. Mike Green – Detroit Red Wings – 2 years, $10.0MM With Carlson off the market, Green is the lone impact right-shooting defender that’s still available. While he’s coming off cervical spine surgery, all signs indicate that he’s going to be fine for next season. Green isn’t the high-end skater he once was but he can still make a strong first pass out of his own end and has a quality shot from the point as well. He isn’t a top pairing player anymore but he can still slot in nicely on any blue line. With the dearth of right-handed options out there, Green should garner a lot of interest. Signed – 2 years, $10.75MM with Detroit Red Wings
9. Calvin de Haan – Colorado Avalanche – 4 years, $17.0MM It was terrible timing for de Haan to go down with a season-ending upper-body injury in December of a contract year. Yet, it was impeccable timing that he happened to be a free agent in this year’s class, which is extremely light on proven top-four defensemen, especially with Carlson off the market. One of the best shot blockers in the league and a reliable checker and defensive zone presence, de Haan has built a reputation as a solid option on the back end who can play consistent minutes without making many mistakes. However, his offensive totals have also improved each year of his career, including a career-best scoring rate prior to his injury. A legitimate top-four defenseman who, at 27, still has room to improve, de Haan is going to garner major attention on the free agent market. Signed – 4 years, $18.2MM with Carolina Hurricanes
10. Joe Thornton – San Jose Sharks – 1 year, $4.0MM + $2.0MM performance bonus While he has certainly slowed down considerably in recent years, Thornton is still one of the better playmakers in the league. He’s coming off of another major knee surgery which will be a red flag for some teams but those that miss out on the top centers will at least kick the tires on Thornton to see if he’s willing to leave San Jose. Signed – 1 year, $5MM with San Jose Sharks
11. Carter Hutton – Buffalo Sabres – 3 years, $9.0MM Hutton looks like the best goaltender on the market this season after another strong campaign in St. Louis, and is ready to cash in for the first time in his career. Never paid more than $1.25MM in a single season, he’s bound to earn more than double that amount in the first year of his next contract. Philipp Grubauer being traded before the draft likely only helped Hutton, as teams that are desperate for goaltending help will need to reach out on Sunday to try and secure the most reliable veteran option. Signed – 3 years, $8.25MM with Buffalo Sabres
12. Patrick Maroon – St. Louis Blues – 4 years, $14.0MM A lot has changed since Anaheim agreed to pay $500K of Maroon’s contract to help trade him a couple of years ago. He demonstrated with Edmonton that he could hold his own in an offensive role while still providing a physical presence and then fared well in his stint with the Devils after February’s trade deadline. There aren’t many power forwards available this summer and even fewer that have the ability to play a top-six role so Maroon is certain to have a lot of interest. Signed – 1 year, $1.75MM with St. Louis Blues
13. Michael Grabner – Vegas Golden Knights – 3 years $10.0MM There’s one skill that every team in the NHL is trying to acquire more of as each year goes by—speed. Grabner has that in spades, and would provides an elite counter-punch option to use on the penalty kill and fill out the bottom half of any forward group. While he doesn’t create much for his teammates, there’s no arguing with the consecutive 27-goal campaigns Grabner has put up over the last two years. Still just 30 years old, a multi-year contract doesn’t carry a ton of risk. Signed – 3 years, $10.05MM with Arizona Coyotes
14. Thomas Vanek – Detroit Red Wings – 2 years, $5.5MM In what is seemingly become an annual tradition, Vanek is back on the open market this summer. He’s coming off of his best season offensively since 2013-14 which might give him a chance at securing a multi-year deal this time around. He’s a slower player in a league that is trending more and more towards speed but Vanek can still help a team in their top six for a little while yet. Signed – 1 year, $3MM with Detroit Red Wings
15. Riley Nash – Boston Bruins – 3 years, $8.25MM Nash quietly had a very impressive season in 2017-18. Playing on the third line for the Bruins on a salary under $1MM and after a disappointing first year in Boston, Nash entered the campaign with few expectations; he emerged as a top-ten scorer in the free agent class. Nash, 29, shattered his previous career high of 25 points with 41 on the year, including 15 goals. He thrived playing on two-way line with Danton Heinen and David Backes that brought energy and grit, but also a fair amount of offense. He also was a key contributor to the penalty kill and occasionally factored in on the powerplay. Nash proved himself to be a truly well-rounded forward and has substantially increased his value. While Nash could potentially play a second-line role on some teams, the right place for him is on the third line, which could hinder his earning potential slightly. There is no way he’ll be playing for less than $1MM again any time soon though. Signed – 3 years, $8.25MM with Columbus Blue Jackets
16. Ian Cole – Columbus Blue Jackets – 4 years, $16.0MM After reports surfaced that there was a divide between Cole and Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan, the veteran defenseman was shipped off to Columbus at the deadline. He fit in well there and ended up logging nearly 20 minutes a night in their first round playoff series. If there’s any hint that Cole could be a locker room problem his market could shrink, but it’s hard to argue with a reliable two-way defenseman in this market. The 29-year-old isn’t an elite offensive player, but does enough well to contribute from time to time and provide a positive impact on the game. Signed – 3 years, $12.75MM with Colorado Avalanche
17. Jack Johnson – Pittsburgh Penguins – 5 years, $16.0MM This is hardly a prediction at this point, as it has been all but confirmed that Johnson will sign with the Penguins for a salary and term in this vicinity. Johnson had a tough year in 2017-18, recording just 11 points and struggling with everything from puck possession to defensive match-ups, all while losing ice time as a result. However, just a year prior he was a positive rating player with 23 points on the year and a reputation for solid defensive play. It wasn’t even that long ago that Johnson was a 40-point player and a U.S. Olympian. Johnson is more than capable of returning to form, especially playing with a top team like Pittsburgh and old friend and former high school teammate Sidney Crosby. Signed – 5 years, $16.25MM with Pittsburgh Penguins
18. Jonathan Bernier – Detroit Red Wings – 3 years, $8.25MM Bernier has proven that he can be a capable backup or tandem goaltender, but there are still some concerns about his ability to carry a team. It’s unlikely that anyone will consider him a full-time starter this summer, and instead lock him up as a sort of 1B option to play 30-40 games. He’s been linked to several teams already, but the Red Wings appear to be the closest as they look for another option to help solidify their depth behind Jimmy Howard and the single year remaining on his contract. Signed – 3 years, $9MM with Detroit Red Wings
19. Valtteri Filppula – Detroit Red Wings – 2 years, $6.0MM Filppula isn’t the top-six pivot he was several years ago, but still put up 33 points for the Flyers this season despite some relatively difficult matchups. He’ll play this season at the age of 34 meaning you can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel of his career, but there should be enough teams that are desperate for center help that he secures a solid contract. Whether he gets a second or third year isn’t clear, but there’s enough there to think you could squeeze a few seasons out of him at a reasonable price. Signed – 1 year, $2.75MM with New York Islanders
20. Thomas Hickey – Montreal Canadiens – 3 years, $9.0MM Hickey actually recorded the second-highest point total among free agent defensemen, but that may say more about the class of free agents than it does about his success in 2017-18. Still, there’s not much to complain about for the 29-year old, who put up 25 points in 69 games and blew the rest of the Islanders defensemen out of the water in +/-. His +20 rating was an incredible 62 points above Nick Leddy at -42, and while that statistic certainly doesn’t tell the whole story it does sound good at a negotiating table. Signed – 4 years, $10MM with New York Islanders
21. John Moore – Buffalo Sabres – 3 years, $8.5MM Moore may actually be one of the most underrated players on the free agent market, after logging more than 20 minutes with the Devils this season and contributing on both the powerplay and penalty kill at times. Moore is about the farthest thing from a household name you can get in the NHL, but has proven to be a steady—if roaming—presence on the blue line. More than a dozen teams reached out to him after the free agent interview period opened, and things could get out of control if some sort of bidding war opens up. Signed – 5 years, $13.75MM with Boston Bruins
22. Derek Ryan – Calgary Flames – 2 years, $4.8MM Ryan was a revelation when he signed with the Carolina Hurricanes at the age of 29 after a career in Europe and was able to earn a crucial top-nine role with the team over the past two seasons. Ryan showed high-end possession ability, skill at the face-off dot, and shot selection and cemented himself as a legitimate NHL center. His 38 points this season were more than the likes of Victor Rask and every one of the Hurricanes’ talented defenseman, as he proved to be an invaluable asset to the team. However, there is no cheating time and while Ryan seems new to the league with potential remaining, the truth is that he will turn 32 in the upcoming season and is unlikely to continue trending upward for much longer. A skilled, two-way center will always have value, but Ryan is likely to only land a moderate deal. He may even look to sign below market value with a team that he thinks has a chance to win over the term of his contract. Signed – 3 years, $9.375MM with Calgary Flames
23. Leo Komarov – New York Rangers – 3 years, $8.5MM The 31-year-old didn’t exactly help his cause as he struggled in 2017-18, putting up just 19 points after surpassing 30 in each of the two previous seasons. He still should garner some interest from teams looking for grit in their bottom six and the way he was deployed with Toronto is an indicator that he can take on a fairly big workload without too much issue. His market will be weakened by his drop in production but there are always teams looking to add physicality in free agency. Signed – 4 years, $12MM with New York Islanders
24. Dan Hamhuis – Nashville Predators – 2 years, $6.0MM Reliable, consistent, dependable. The 35-year-old defenseman is still a very useful player for any NHL team, willing to take the tough matchups with a smile and still contribute offensively when he can. Recording 24 points last season was right about where you should expect his totals if he makes it through the year healthy, which is certainly acceptable for a player known more for his defensive prowess. There will be several teams after him, but Dallas may just be better off trying to lock up the veteran themselves.
25. Robin Lehner – New York Islanders – 1 year, $2.25MM Lehner was one of the first players to have his club announce they would not be extending a qualifying offer, but it didn’t come as much of a surprise. Sabres’ GM Jason Botterill was clear at the end of the season when he named only Linus Ullmark as one of his team’s goaltenders for the next season. Lehner can sometimes let his emotions get the best of him on the ice, but is still just 26 and has shown the—albeit inconsistent—ability to be an above average starting goaltender in the NHL. Signed – 1 year, $1.5MM with New York Islanders
26. Anton Khudobin – Boston Bruins – 2 years, $3.5MM Since Khudobin became a full-time NHL player six years ago, he has had three good seasons and three bad seasons. Two of those good seasons have been as the understudy to Tuukka Rask in Boston, including this past year when he was one of the top backups in the league with 16 wins, a .913 save percentage, and a 2.56 GAA. With each passing day, it seems more and more likely that the two sides come together on an extension, but Khudobin has previously shown that he can play well with more responsibility and after this past season, he could be looking for another shot in a similar situation. Khudobin got a fair amount of starts in Boston this past year, but he must decide if he is happy with ample play time behind a cemented starter in Rask or if he wants to pursue a situation where he one day may be the top dog. Signed – 2 years, $5MM with Dallas Stars
27. Matt Calvert – Carolina Hurricanes – 3 years, $7.0MM Calvert has shown flashes of being a quality secondary scorer but he hasn’t been able to put it together on a consistent basis. That helped play a role in him seeing reduced ice time in 2017-18 while taking some criticism from John Tortorella. That changed in the postseason as the 28-year-old saw his playing time jump by nearly four minutes per night while he led the team in goals in their first round loss to Washington. His strong finish should help bolster his market. Signed – 3 years, $8.4MM with Colorado Avalanche
28. Jaroslav Halak – Carolina Hurricanes – 1 year, $2.25MM Halak has more experience than most of the other goaltenders on the open market, and should be able to secure a deal somewhere to compete for starts. Though his career as an above average starter is likely behind him, he still posted a .908 save percentage behind an atrocious Islanders defensive unit this season. A stable goaltender that you can rely on if things go south with your incumbent, he doesn’t have the early heat on his market like some of the other younger options. Signed – 2 years, $5.5MM with Boston Bruins
29. Kyle Brodziak – Minnesota Wild – 2 years, $4.0MM The 34-year-old has two things working for him – it’s a weak market for centers where demand outweighs supply and he is coming off of his best offensive season since 2011-12. While he spent a lot of time on the fourth line with St. Louis, there’s a good chance that there will be teams that believe he could be a stopgap third-line pivot for a year or two. That will drive up the interest in him and allow him to get more than the $900K in salary he received in 2017-18. Signed – 2 years, $2.3MM with Edmonton Oilers
30. Jay Beagle – Washington Capitals – 2 years, $4.0MM Beagle is coming off an impressive postseason performance with the Washington Capitals and is entering the market with some increased attention, but is still barely capable of producing offense at a third-line center rate. With just seven goals and 22 points this season, teams will have to be comfortable with him playing a purely matchup role and helping out on faceoffs, as he’s not likely to improve his offensive output as he heads into his mid-thirties. If he can’t return “home” to Washington, teams like Toronto or Vancouver could be quick to call his representation on Sunday. Signed – 4 years, $12MM with Vancouver Canucks
31. Blake Comeau – Edmonton Oilers – 2 years, $5.0MM The old knock on Comeau used to be that he was too injury-prone to be relied on in a top-six role. Even in his early days with the New York Islanders, Comeau put up good numbers but didn’t get the respect he deserved because of his limited availability. After a three-year run with the Avalanche in which Comeau missed a total of nine regular season games, those concerns are over. He has also proven that he can still score, with two 30+ point seasons in Colorado, including 13 goals and 21 assists in 2017-18. Comeau comes with his fair share of concerns – he’s 32, he’s an off-the-puck player, and he brings very little experience – but in this free agent market, he is one of the few legitimate right wing options, continues to play an effective physical, disruptive style, and has shown no signs of slowing down. Is he any team’s favorite choice for a top-six role? No. Yet his skill set allows him to play on all four lines with relative ease and that versatility will be rewarded this summer. Signed – 3 years, $7.2MM with Dallas Stars
32. Tomas Plekanec – Montreal Canadiens – 1 year, $2.0MM + $1.0MM performance bonus Two years ago, Plekanec was still a legitimate two-way center but his offensive game has basically fallen off a cliff since then. However, he is still strong defensively and can kill penalties which will make him of interest for teams looking for bottom-six help. After being deployed in heavy minutes with Montreal in recent years though, how willing will he be to accept not only a big reduction in pay (from his previous $6MM cap hit) but also in ice time as well? Signed – year, $2.25MM +$1.25MM performance bonuses with Montreal Canadiens
33. Kari Lehtonen – New York Rangers – 1 year, $2.5MM Lehtonen has been around the league for a long time, and is a perfect backup option for teams that strike out with some of the other goaltenders on the market. If he’s willing to take a one-year deal there are plenty of landing spots for him, but after bouncing back in 2017-18 he may be looking for one last multi-year deal. It’s not clear who is out there to give him that, meaning his market may take a few days to develop.
34. Chris Kunitz – Pittsburgh Penguins – 1 year, $1.0MM + $1.0MM performance bonus Four Stanley Cups and a playoff appearance in thirteen straight seasons for the 38-year old Kunitz, who has been open about a desire to return to Pittsburgh if possible. After playing for the Lightning for one season and recording 29 points, he still could provide a bottom-six option and some nostalgia for the Penguins. Signed – 1 year, $1MM with Chicago Blackhawks
35. Luca Sbisa – Ottawa Senators – 2 years, $4.2MM Still an excellent skater, Sbisa was limited by injury this season and couldn’t really take part in the Vegas domination. With just 30 games played he recorded 14 points, but was then limited in the playoffs for the team after they’d found their groove elsewhere. He’s had some tough seasons in Anaheim and Vancouver, but there is a good puck-moving defenseman in there somewhere. We’ll have to wait to see if someone pays up to try and pull it out.
36. Nick Holden – New York Islanders – 2 years, $4.5MM For all of the criticism that Holden received as a member of the New York Rangers, one would think that he would be a worse player. In reality, Holden is a capable offensive defenseman and is relatively sound in his own zone. Holden scored 34 points with the Rangers in 2016-17, and after a deadline trade to the Boston Bruins this season again showed those same puck-movement abilities. With talent around him, Holden excels and can possess the puck and make smart passes with regularity. He can also eat minutes and makes for a difficult match-up in his own end. Holden is also a physical threat who largely avoids penalty troubles. The occasional giveaway or missed opportunity on offense have blown Holden’s shortcomings out of proportion. He isn’t going to drastically improve a franchise, but he can be a reliable option for nearly any team in the league. Holden has never made more than $2MM in a season. That is likely to change this summer for the underrated rearguard. Signed – 2 years, $4.4MM with Vegas Golden Knights
37. Toby Enstrom – San Jose Sharks – 1 year, $1.75MM Enstrom is healthy and wants to continue playing, but it won’t be with the only team he’s ever known. After being scratched in the playoffs by Winnipeg, the veteran defenseman is looking for greener pastures. At 33 he may not be the puck-moving option he was as a youngster, but still defends well enough to contribute to several teams in the league. With the lack of reliable defensive options on the market, he may even secure a multi-year deal.
38. Antoine Roussel – Montreal Canadiens – 2 years, $4.1MM Roussel is coming off the worst full season of his career, but is still an extremely difficult player to play against and has a history of contributing somewhat offensively. Collecting over 100 penalty minutes for the fifth consecutive season, he can add some physicality and grit into a lineup without being a liability with the puck on his stick. Though he won’t score 30, there are plenty of teams who would value a 10-12 goal man with his skill set. Signed – 4 years, $12MM with Vancouver Canucks
39. Greg Pateryn – Minnesota Wild – 2 years, $3.6MM After being primarily a depth player for the previous two seasons, Dallas gave Pateryn a regular spot in the lineup and he made the most of it, logging nearly 20 minutes per game. He and partner Dan Hamhuis are each hitting the open market, and one has to wonder whether someone will kick around the idea of signing both. Given the lack of established right-shot defenders, there should be a fairly strong market for his services even though he barely has the equivalent of two full NHL seasons under his belt in terms of games played. Signed – 3 years, $6.75MM with Minnesota Wild
40. Mark Letestu – Calgary Flames – 1 year, $1.75MM Letestu is predominantly a role player at this point of his career but he is consistently better than 50% at the faceoff dot and can be a streaky scorer. Those types of players are always coveted by contenders both in free agency and at the trade deadline so there’s a good chance he’ll have at least a handful of suitors this summer.
41. Brandon Manning – Toronto Maple Leafs – 2 years, $3.0MM It was quickly announced at the end of the year that the Flyers wouldn’t be re-signing Manning, likely because of the glut of young defenders they have coming through the system. Though he’d certainly be more attractive to teams if he was right-handed, a big physical defenseman that can keep the puck moving is a valuable commodity. Manning has been open about his preference of being on the west coast closer to home, but money will likely talk as it does with most free agents. Signed – 2 years, $4.5MM with Chicago Blackhawks
42. Alexei Emelin – New York Rangers – 1 year, $2.0MM The game doesn’t reward big-hitting defensemen like Emelin much any more, but after playing 76 games with the best regular season team in the league there are bound to be offers. A patch to hold things together until Ryan Ellis eventually came back, Emelin nevertheless took a regular shift down the stretch and in 10 of the team’s 13 playoff games. He’ll do his best work as part of a group that already has enough puck-movers, if he doesn’t go back to Russia.
43. Cam Ward – Chicago Blackhawks – 1 year, $1.5MM Ward has never played for anyone but Carolina in his NHL career, but those days have finally come to an end. Now, Ward is expected to move on with his career as a veteran backup who can be relied upon as a starter and Chicago is widely expected to be the that perfect landing spot. The Blackhawks have concerns over the health of starter Corey Crawford and their backup tandem of Anton Forsberg and Jean-Francois Berube did not get the job done last year. Berube has been traded away and the expectation is that the open backup role will be given to Ward. The long-time Hurricanes starter is a past Stanley Cup winner and All-Star and has more career wins than most goalies in the league. He has surely lost a step over the past few years, but brings experience and confidence to the position. Even if not in Chicago, the 34-year-old will not go without a job for long, as he could bring some veteran presence and stability to many different teams. Signed – 1 year, $3MM with Chicago Blackhawks
44. Ryan Reaves – Anaheim Ducks – 2 years, $3.0MM There has already been plenty of interest in Reaves, who scored two huge playoff goals for the Golden Knights and seems to be on everyone’s mind following the Stanley Cup Finals. There’s obviously still an appetite for his bang-and-crash style, though it will be hard for him to maintain a regular shift as the league continues to get quicker. Signed – 2 years, $5.55MM with Vegas Golden Knights
45. Luke Schenn – Columbus Blue Jackets – 2 years, $3.0MM Schenn has already played over 700 games in his NHL career, and continues to find work despite poor offensive totals. That’s not what he’s paid to do though, and with the lack of right-handed options around the league his market doesn’t seem like it will close this time around. At just 28-years old he’s basically a younger version of a player like Roman Polak, and should have no trouble finding a job for 2018-19. Signed – 1 year, $800K with Anaheim Ducks
46. Michael Hutchinson – Dallas Stars – 1 year, $800K It was a terrible year for Connor Hellebuyck to break out if you were looking at the situation from Hutchinson’s perspective. While Winnipeg rejoiced and rode their Vezina candidate all the way to the playoffs, Hutchinson was stuck in the AHL dominating the competition for the Manitoba Moose. Posting a .935 save percentage in the minors, he did everything he could to position himself as an NHL backup option for next season. Whether that materializes is another story. Signed – 1 year, $1.3MM with Florida Panthers
47. Kris Versteeg – Arizona Coyotes – 1 year, $1.0MM A hip issue kept him out for most of the season which will likely limit him to a one-year contract but he does have a history of being a good secondary scorer. In the previous four years, he had recorded at least 34 points in each of them. There are a lot of teams that would welcome that type of production from a third liner and because of the injury, he probably can be had at a bit of a bargain. Versteeg spent enough time on injured reserve last season to qualify for performance bonuses, despite being only 32 years old.
48. Christian Folin – Pittsburgh Penguins – 1 year, $900K Similar to Schenn, Folin is reliable enough in his own end to generate some interest given that he’s right-handed. He actually set a career-high with 13 points in 65 games for the Kings, but shouldn’t be expected to eclipse that number going forward. He isn’t an offensive player, but he won’t be asked to be next season and instead provide valuable depth on the right side to a needy team. Signed – 1 year, $800K with Philadelphia Flyers
49. Brian Gibbons – Chicago Blackhawks – 2 years, $2.5MM Not many people could have seen last season coming from Gibbons. At 30, the 5’8” forward was more or less a career AHLer with just 66 NHL games under his belt, the last of which came in 2014, who had no apparent upside remaining. Yet, Gibbons pushed for a spot with the New Jersey Devils and ended up suiting up for 59 games in 2017-18. During that time, he managed to contribute 26 points, including 12 goals, despite seeing only limited minutes. He also held his own defensively and showed that he could skate with the elite in the NHL. Gibbons still remains limited in what he can do, but for any teams looking for an affordable trigger man, this small but sturdy forward fits the bill. Signed – 1 year, $1MM with Anaheim Ducks
50. Matthew Peca – Ottawa Senators – 2 years, $1.3MM Peca’s market is tough to gauge as one of the players eligible for Group VI unrestricted free agency. With just 20 NHL games under his belt he doesn’t bring the same kind of excitement Jordan Weal did last offseason, instead only offering the promise of potential. He does have seven points in those 20 games and plays bigger than his size, but it will likely take a rebuilding team to take a chance on him this summer. Signed – 2 years, $2.6MM with Montreal Canadiens
*Zach Leach, Brian La Rose, and Holger Stolzenberg made contributions to this article.