There are now 27 NHL teams eliminated from Stanley Cup contention, and with that comes a new focus. Free agency is right around the corner and plans are starting to formulate on who to retain or who to pursue in order to improve for next season. Once considered a “Super class” of unrestricted free agents, the group for 2019 has dwindled considerably as teams are hesitant to give up their top players. Still, there is plenty of talent without a contract for next season and Frank Seravalli of TSN released an early ranking of those players today.
As expected, Artemi Panarin, Erik Karlsson and Sergei Bobrovsky occupy the top three spots, all superstars at their respective positions. The trio could change the face of any franchise in the league, but will each cost a fortune to obtain. Beyond those three though there are other impressive names on the list like Matt Duchene, Anders Lee and even Joe Pavelski. While it may no longer be the best class of free agents in history, teams are still hoping the next seven weeks pass quickly.
- With John Tavares out of the IIHF World Championship due to an oblique injury, Team Canada suffered a defeat at the hands of Finland today 3-1. The forward group was quite unimpressive except perhaps for a few opportunities by Jonathan Marchessault and Anthony Mantha, and may have trouble creating offense at even strength in the tournament. Canada has three extra spots to add other players, and one of those will be used on Colorado Avalanche forward Tyson Jost according to Darren Dreger of TSN. Jost competed last year for the Canadians and recorded six points in nine games, and also took home a World Junior silver medal for them in the past. Update: The team will also be adding Columbus Blue Jackets forward Pierre-Luc Dubois.
- While the Canadians struggled to create any offense, the Finnish squad had no problem thanks to the presence of top draft-eligible prospect Kaapo Kakko. The 18-year old opened the scoring on a breakaway and finished it off with an empty net goal after winning a loose puck from Marchessault while defending the lead. Kakko and fellow potential first-overall pick Jack Hughes are both competing in the tournament against other NHL stars, and have a chance to really show the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers what kind of impact they can have from day one.