Originally published on July 27
It’s been quite the offseason already. The expansion draft caused a flurry of trades last week, with teams frantically moving pieces around to try and deny Seattle any valuable assets. As soon as the transaction freeze was lifted teams started making moves again, with star players finding new homes all around the league. Seth Jones and Marc-Andre Fleury are in Chicago, Oliver Ekman-Larsson is in Vancouver, Ryan Ellis is in Philadelphia and we haven’t even reached free agency yet.
Now, as we wait for tomorrow’s frenzy, the focus is squarely on the free agent market. Wednesday afternoon a huge number of players will hit the open market, able to pursue money and glory with a new team. There are first-line players and award winners available, along with plenty of depth options. With a flat cap once again, teams will have to carefully decide which veteran to pay and which to let go.
After giving teams plenty of time to announce extensions (and announce them they did), it’s time to unveil our Top 50 Unrestricted Free Agent List. The rankings were voted on by the PHR writing team, based on a combination of talent and projected demand, not necessarily their total dollar amounts. This year’s group is headlined by a long-time captain and a Norris Trophy contender, along with a few of the key players from the Stanley Cup Finals.
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 during the buyout period, after Ryan Suter, Zach Parise, and Keith Yandle had already hit the free agent market. Other names like Martin Jones, Braden Holtby and James Neal were not included, as they hadn’t yet been officially bought out. The voting was also done before the qualifying offer deadline, meaning names like Nick Ritchie or Pius Suter were not included.
1. Gabriel Landeskog – Colorado Avalanche – 7 years, $52.5MM Close to a unanimous selection as the top free agent on the market, Landeskog checks basically every box you can think of. Scoring threat? Check, he has 171 points in his last 181 games. Physical? Check, even in a shortened season he totaled 81 hits. In his prime? Check, at 28 he’s still on the younger end of the free agent market. Leadership? Was the youngest player in history to be named team captain when the Avalanche gave him the “C” nearly ten years ago. Sure, his offensive numbers may be inflated by playing next to one of the league’s best centers, but there’s no reason to downplay just how effective Landeskog has been. Every team in the league would take him if they could afford to pay him what he’s asking for.
Re-signed with Colorado, 8 years, $56MM
2. Dougie Hamilton – New Jersey Devils – 7 years, $59.5MM Hamilton was either first or second on each ballot, as the only other name that really comes close to Landeskog in this year’s market. The top-pairing defenseman just finished fourth in Norris Trophy voting, has seven straight seasons with at least ten goals, and only turned 28 last month. Hamilton is going to sign a massive deal in free agency and he deserves it, even it could very well take him to his fourth team since debuting in 2012. There’s just no one quite like him on the market this season and he will know exactly what he’s worth after being granted permission to speak with other teams already.
Signed with New Jersey, 7 years, $63MM
3. Zach Hyman – Edmonton Oilers – 7 years, $38.5MM It’s hard to quantify everything that Hyman brings to the rink, as one of the few players in the league that has turned the “grinder” role into true top-six production. Among the best forecheckers in the NHL, he relentlessly tracks down pucks for his linemates with elite body positioning and stick-on-puck ability. There isn’t a star in the league that wouldn’t want Hyman on his wing, doing all the dirty work in the corners just to get it onto his linemate’s stick. The question now is whether, after multiple knee injuries and 345 games of that punishment, he’ll still be the same player as he moves into his thirties. He’s not there yet–Hyman turned 29 last month–but a long-term, big-money contract is a significant risk for a player with a career-high of 41 points.
Signed with Edmonton, 7 years, $38.5MM
4. Philipp Grubauer – Colorado Avalanche – 6 years, $36MM Quite simply, Grubauer picked a perfect year to become a Vezina finalist. Though he has shown the ability before, he proved this season that he could handle the load as a full-time starter, appearing in 40 of Colorado’s 56 games. He lost just nine of those, leading the league with seven shutouts and posting a .922 save percentage. With real concerns over durability or consistency for every other goaltender on the market, he could pick any number of spots for the next chapter of his NHL journey. Of course, the spot with the best chance at winning might be the one he played for last season.
Signed with Seattle, 6 years, $35.4MM
5. Tyson Barrie – Edmonton Oilers – 4 years, $20MM The opening line of Barrie’s entry in the 2021-22 media guide will read “led all defensemen in scoring last year,” yet he failed to receive a single vote for the Norris Trophy thanks to real weaknesses in the defensive end. In the right fit, he can be a devastating presence on the powerplay and will routinely jump into rushes to create offense. It resulted in 48 points in 56 games this year, but there are still real questions over whether he’s worth a long-term investment. Having just turned 30, there’s likely several years of point production left in Barrie, but how much are teams willing to pay for a defenseman with almost no playoff success.
Signed with Edmonton, 3 years, $13.5MM
6. Phillip Danault – Los Angeles Kings – 5 years, $27.5MM Speaking of playoff success, how much does a run to the Stanley Cup Finals buy you in free agency? There was a report that Danault turned down a six-year, $30MM contract offer from the Canadiens before the season began, and it looked like a terrible mistake partway through the year when he scored just five goals. But after neutralizing players like Auston Matthews, Nikolaj Ehlers, and Mark Stone in the playoffs, his value as a defensive center was on full display. Whether he recoups the money he turned down remains to be seen, but make no mistake, every team he defeated in the playoffs wishes they had a shutdown presence like Danault in the middle of the ice.
Signed with Los Angeles, 6 years, $33MM
7. David Krejci – Boston Bruins – 1 year, $5MM He’s 35 and he scored just eight goals last season. Red flag, right? Well, for Krejci, it was never really about the goals in the first place, and he proved that by still providing excellent offensive production even as his speed continued to decline. There’s no doubt the hands are still there and his excellent playmaking ability resulted in 44 points through 51 games. That kind of production isn’t easy to find, especially in a market devoid of true centers. It may be a bit of a false market, but Krejci technically will be available to all 32 teams on Wednesday and should be of interest to many. Whether he’s interested in any of them is the question.
8. Mikael Granlund – Nashville Predators – 3 years, $15MM Granlund had just 13 goals last season, but that was actually good enough for the lead on a Nashville team that had a difficult time scoring. He’s not a full-time center but can play the position well enough to market himself as one this summer and potentially land a hefty deal after taking just $3.75MM last year.
Signed with Nashville, 4 years, $20MM
9. Jaden Schwartz – Seattle Kraken – 3 years, $14.25MM Schwartz is one of the more interesting free agents upfront. He has produced at least 55 points in five of the last eight seasons but saw his production drop sharply last year, notching just 21 points in 40 games while being held off the scoresheet in the playoffs. There’s enough of a track record to expect that he’ll rebound but coming off the year he had and the way the UFA market was for wingers last fall, he’s not looking at a guaranteed raise on his previous $5.35MM AAV as it looked like he was heading for just a couple of years ago.
Signed with Seattle, 5 years, $27.5MM
10. Blake Coleman – Dallas Stars – 5 years, $23.75MM Coleman may not be the first name that comes to mind when you think of the Stanley Cup champion Lightning roster, but he certainly was an important one. The 29-year-old swiss army knife can do a little bit of everything and fit anywhere on a roster. His speed makes him dangerous no matter the situation, and it’s easy to fall in love with his highlight one-handed goals. The worry, as it was with linemate Barclay Goodrow, is whether Coleman will be seen as such a valuable piece when he’s not making just $1.8MM as he was the last three seasons. He can score goals, but don’t rely on him to carry the offense–his career-high is 36 points.
Signed with Calgary, 6 years, $29.4MM
11. Ryan Suter – Dallas Stars – 4 years, $14MM The defense market got a nice boost when Minnesota opted to pay him for the next eight years not to play for them. Suter isn’t someone who should see a lot of time on the top pairing anymore but he’s still reliable in his own end and before last season, had notched at least 40 points in five straight years. Even though he’s 36, there will be a lot of interest and he should be able to land a multi-year deal. With the way his deal with the Wild was front-loaded, this buyout should allow him to earn a lot more money than he would have had he stayed with them.
Signed with Dallas, 4 years, $14.6MM
12. Mike Hoffman – Montreal Canadiens – 3 years, $12MM One of the top wingers available last fall, he wound up having to wait until close to training camp to sign as he wasn’t able to get the contract he was looking for. This time around, he enters free agency in pretty much the same situation he did before. He’s a capable but streaky scorer while being above average in terms of scoring on the power play but he won’t help much in other areas. With other more well-rounded wingers available this summer, there’s a chance that recent history repeats itself but with a lot of teams looking for scoring help, a raise from $4MM and a multi-year deal can’t be ruled out either.
Signed with Montreal, 3 years, $12.5MM
13. Brandon Saad – St. Louis Blues – 3 years, $12.75 There are two very different sides to every discussion about Saad. He’s either a puck-possession god that can slide into any top-six and make his linemates better, or he’s a frustrating player who has talent but is extremely inefficient with his opportunities. Saad has never been able to take the next step to become a real star in the league, instead topping out around 25 goals and 50 points. This season, he had only 15 and 24 in the shortened campaign, not exactly a platform year for the 28-year-old free agent.
Signed with St. Louis, 5 years, $22.5MM
14. Tuukka Rask – Boston Bruins – 1 year, $2.5MM + $2MM performance bonuses In a normal year, Rask would rank even higher on the list after another solid campaign in the Boston net. But after undergoing hip surgery that will keep him out part of the year, it’s hard to put a real value on him this season. Just a year removed from being the runner-up for the Vezina Trophy, Rask currently sits third on the all-time save percentage list, behind only Dominik Hasek and Johnny Bower. He’s one of the best and most consistent goaltenders of his generation, but his injury situation and age—now 34—makes him a real question mark. A decision might wait until he’s ready to return to action, but it still seems like a Boston-or-nothing situation.
15. Tomas Tatar – Anaheim Ducks – 3 years, $12MM Tatar has produced strong possession numbers at five-on-five while chipping in with six years of 20 or more goals before last season where he had 10 in 50 games. That’s ideal for someone who fits as a winger on the second line. But when it mattered the most during Montreal’s playoff run, he was basically a fixture in the press box. That could hurt his market but with his track record, Tatar profiles as an interesting buy-low candidate.
16. Kyle Palmieri – New York Islanders – 2 years, $8.5MM One of the best deadline pickups this year, Palmieri went from a rebuilding club in New Jersey to a contending one in New York, and managed to slip seamlessly into the lineup. He was exactly the player the team was hoping for in the postseason, scoring seven goals in 19 games and providing strong two-way play in the team’s rigid defensive structure. The real question mark is his regular season, which resulted in just ten goals and 21 points in 51 games. If that was a fluke and he can get back to his previous performance, a short-term deal to rebuild value before one last multi-year contract could be a prudent financial decision.
17. Linus Ullmark – Buffalo Sabres – 4 years, $16MM For years, Buffalo was hoping that Ullmark would take that big step forward and become their sure-fire number one goaltender. That didn’t happen but he very quietly posted save percentages that were above the league average the last two seasons, no small feat considering how bad the Sabres were in that stretch. At 27, he’s one of the youngest goalies available on the open market and there may be teams willing to give him a chance to be a 1A netminder if he fails to re-sign in Buffalo.
Signed with Boston, 4 years, $20MM
18. Alexander Wennberg – Detroit Red Wings – 3 years, $10MM Talk about killing a narrative, Wennberg scored more goals in the 2020-21 season than he had in the past three combined. His 17 tallies for the Panthers were a career-high and only the second time he’s recorded more than eight in a single season. Add that to strong defensive play at the center ice position and it looks like you have quite a valuable package. Buyer beware though, Wennberg scored on 20.7% of his shots this season; at his previous career rate of 8%, he would have scored just six times.
Signed with Seattle, 3 years, $13.5MM
19. Petr Mrazek – Toronto Maple Leafs – 2 years, $6.5MM The expected starter in Carolina heading into 2020-21, things didn’t go according to plans for Mrazek. A pair of injuries sidelined him for 37 games and the strong play from Alex Nedeljkovic cut into Mrazek’s playing time down the stretch. As a result, he enters free agency in the same spot he was when he hit the market three years ago as a player who has shown flashes of being a starter but will likely have to settle for another platoon situation.
Signed with Toronto, 3 years, $11.4MM
20. Nick Foligno – Minnesota Wild – 2 years, $6MM A trade deadline move to Toronto was a disaster, as Foligno suffered an injury and failed to score a single goal for the Maple Leafs, but that doesn’t mean he won’t help a team in 2021-22. An experienced leader who will crack the 1,000 games played mark with a full season, he can still slide into a second-line as a defensively responsible complement to skilled players. If you’re expecting that player that racked up 73 points in 2014-15, he’s long gone. But there’s no reason to think Foligno won’t get a multi-year deal if he wants it.
Signed with Boston, 2 years, $7.6MM
21. Nick Bonino – Montreal Canadiens – 3 years, $9.3MM This will be Bonino’s second tour through free agency and he enters the market in pretty much the same situation he was four years ago – a player that can play in the top six if necessary but is best served as a third-line center. He has reached double-digit goals in seven of the last eight seasons while being above average at the faceoff dot in each of the past four. In a weak market for middlemen, the 33-year-old should receive a lot of interest.
Signed with San Jose, 2 years, $4.1MM
22. Ryan Murray – Calgary Flames – 4 years, $14MM Murray played just 48 games in this shortened season, and yet it’s one of the highest totals of his career. Selected second overall back in 2012, the left-handed defenseman has just been cursed by injury over the years. His only healthy season was back in 2015-16 with the Blue Jackets, which also was the last time he played more than 60 games. He’s not going to put up a lot of points, he likely won’t even be logging more than 20 minutes a night anymore, but if you need someone to plug into the 4-5 spot on the back end, you could certainly do worse. A multi-year deal for such an injury-prone player is probably a mistake, but that doesn’t mean he won’t get one.
23. Jonathan Bernier – New Jersey Devils – 2 years, $7MM Bernier put up a strong season behind a bad Detroit team this season, posting a .914 save percentage in 24 appearances. Some would look at that and think “wow, imagine what he’d do on a good team!” Of course, that .914 wasn’t much different than the .912 Thomas Greiss recorded, meaning there wasn’t anything really remarkable about the performance. Several teams have given Bernier the reins only to realize he wasn’t the full-time answer in the past, but he’s certainly capable of providing solid, NHL netminding for 30-40 games per season. Given he’ll turn 33 next month it’s hard to imagine a long-term deal, but as a tandem option, he should get at least the $2.5MM salary he earned last season.
Signed with New Jersey, 2 years, $8.25MM
24. Alex Goligoski – Minnesota Wild – 2 years, $5MM The veteran turns 36 on Friday but still logged 23 minutes a game for the Coyotes last season. That’s not an ideal amount of ice time for him but he can still be an effective stay-at-home defender that’s capable of moving onto the second pairing if injuries arise. He’s looking at a sizable drop from his previous AAV of $5.475MM but Goligoski should have several suitors, especially being comfortable on the right side despite being left-handed.
Signed with Minnesota, 1 year, $5MM
25. David Savard – Montreal Canadiens – 3 years, $12MM Savard is a 30-year-old right-handed defenseman coming off a Stanley Cup title, so why is he ranked so low? Well, his analytical numbers have been bad in recent years and he registered just six points in the regular season. The Blue Jackets were using him less than they had the year prior, he was being outscored significantly at even-strength, and then the Lightning decided to give him just 14 minutes a night in the playoffs. Maybe he’ll bounce back and re-establish himself as a second-pair shutdown option, but there are a lot of red flags that make Savard a likely candidate to be overpaid in free agency.
Signed with Montreal, 4 years, $14MM
26. Keith Yandle – Philadelphia Flyers – 1 year, $900K Yandle’s reputation at this point of his career is well-known and well-earned. The 34-year-old is a strong offensive presence, notching more than 40 points in seven straight years before 2020-21 (where he basically played at a 40-point pace during the shortened schedule). However, he gives back a lot of that at the defensive end where he has struggled to the point where he was scratched at times in the playoffs. In a limited role with plenty of powerplay time, however, Yandle can still be a strong contributor as he looks to set the NHL’s ironman record – a mark he’s 42 games away from tying.
Signed with Philadelphia, 1 year, $900K
27. Frederik Andersen – Pittsburgh Penguins – 1 year, $2.5MM So you want to be a starting goaltender, eh? After two down years, which also included plenty of time on injured reserve, Andersen is an unknown commodity on the open market. He has been good in the past–though never great–but might need a chance to prove he’s healthy and reliable again before a multi-year contract comes his way.
Signed with Carolina, 2 years, $9MM
28. Cody Ceci – Vancouver Canucks – 2 years, $4.4MM After getting through the media meat grinder in Toronto, Ceci quietly took a deal in Pittsburgh and did his job quite well. When the Penguins had nearly the entire defense corps on the shelf, he even had a stretch login upwards of 23 minutes a night. That’s not where Ceci should be sitting, but in a depth role he can be effective enough.
Signed with Edmonton, 4 years, $13MM
29. Derek Forbort – Boston Bruins – 3 years, $9MM All Forbort has done throughout his career is log 20 minutes a night beside talented offensive defensemen, but for whatever reason he’s still often overlooked as a top-four option. He had 12 points in 56 games this season playing mostly next to Neal Pionk in Winnipeg and averaged nearly 25 minutes a night in the postseason. His name is rarely brought up among the top free agent defensemen though, meaning there could still be some sneaky value available for the right team.
Signed with Boston, 3 years, $9MM
30. Mattias Janmark – Arizona Coyotes – 2 years, $5.4MM The Golden Knights were willing to move multiple draft picks at the deadline to acquire Janmark for a playoff run, showing just how well he’s liked as a depth player in the league. He scored 11 goals and 24 points in the shortened 56-game schedule and then added eight more in the playoffs. You can’t rely on him to play top line minutes or score at a huge rate, but his versatility should still generate some interest this summer. Even teams that aren’t contenders should be considering Janmark, if only because of the return he generated this year at the deadline.
Signed with Vegas, 1 year, $2MM
31. Erik Haula – Nashville Predators – 3 years, $8.25MM The excitement generated by Haula’s 29-goal campaign in Vegas a few years ago has worn off, and he’s back to the third-line option he was in the past. Given how thin the center market is though, he should be able to secure several years at a healthy cap hit. The three-year deal he signed with Vegas in 2017 is probably a good comparable, given how his offensive numbers have regressed to the level he showed early in his career.
Signed with Boston, 2 years, $4.75MM
32. Ryan Getzlaf – Edmonton Oilers – 1 year, $2MM + $1.5MM performance bonuses It seemed unthinkable just a few years ago that Getzlaf would be leaving Anaheim in free agency, but the same could have been said about his running mate Corey Perry. Getzlaf even said recently that Perry’s success in Dallas and Montreal created a bit of an “itch” to see what it’s like outside of Anaheim. The 36-year-old is by no means a franchise center anymore, but with a Stanley Cup ring and more than 1,100 NHL games under his belt, he could be a valuable signing for the bottom-six.
Signed with Anaheim, 1 year, $4.5MM
33. Jaroslav Halak – Vancouver Canucks – 1 year, $2.6MM Selected in the ninth round of the 2003 draft, Halak has done his best to dispel the idea that short goaltenders can’t compete. He has a 281-173-62 record over a 15 year career with a strong .916 save percentage. While his role in Boston decreased as younger options emerged, there’s an argument to be made that he’s the best backup goaltender in the league and should find his way to a contract once again.
Signed with Vancouver, 1 year, $1.5MM + $1.5MM performance bonuses
34. Jake McCabe – New York Islanders – 1 year, $1.5MM Thirteen games this season and no completely healthy years in his career, McCabe is a complete question mark at this point. He might return to full strength and provide quiet stable defense, or he might never get back to his previous level after this major knee injury. It’s hard to imagine anyone will commit multiple years to him coming off that kind of an injury.
Signed with Chicago, 4 years, $16MM
35. Tyler Bozak – Seattle Kraken – 1 year, $2.5MM + $1MM performance bonuses Bozak is 35 now and scored just five goals this season, but is still one of the best faceoff men in the league and could fill a depth center role. There aren’t many undrafted college free agents with better careers than the 2019 Stanley Cup champion, but it’s hard to see it lasting much longer.
36. Casey Cizikas – New York Rangers – 4 years, $15.6MM A candidate for the worst deal of free agency, Cizikas’ value is tied directly to the four-line structure that the Islanders have built over the years. He scored 20 goals in 2018-19 but is usually only good for single digits, and doesn’t create any offense for his linemates. There’s a role that Cizikas can fill on any contender, but it’s not one that is deserving of the long-term contract that he’s looking for.
37. Zach Parise – New York Islanders – 1 year, $2MM Bought out in Minnesota, Parise has a chip on his shoulder and is looking to prove he still belongs in the NHL. The fact that he’s still earning money from the Wild should give him an incentive to take a low-salary deal from a contender, which could end up being a huge bargain. Remember, Parise scored 25 goals in 69 games during the 2019-20 season. He may be 37, but he’s not retired.
38. Corey Perry – Tampa Bay Lightning – 1 year, $900K If Parise wants a model to follow, why not look at Perry, who was bought out in Anaheim and immediately went to two consecutive Stanley Cup Finals. His last deal at league minimum probably won’t be repeated, but Perry is Cup chasing at this point and has already made nearly $90MM in his career.
Signed with Tampa Bay, 2 years, $2MM
39. Alexander Edler – Dallas Stars – 1 year, $2.5MM + $750K performance bonuses Edler will likely play his 1,000th NHL regular season game this year, but it doesn’t look like it’ll be for the team he played the first 925. The 35-year-old was open about wanting to check out the open market and look for a different opportunity after the Canucks started to transition away from him this season. Still good enough to fill a depth role, no contender can afford to hand him a multi-year deal at this point and risk that the decline he showed is only going to continue.
Signed with Los Angeles, 1 year, $3.5MM
40. Marcus Johansson – Arizona Coyotes – 1 year, $2MM At risk of becoming “just a guy,” Johansson is a free agent once again after playing on five different teams since 2017. He had just 14 points in 36 games this season, but still has enough positional versatility and defensive ability to deserve a contract. The question is whether any contender really see him as a difference-maker at this point, several years removed from his last strong offensive season.
41. Nikita Gusev – Vancouver Canucks – 1 year, $2MM Wanted by the entire NHL after his 82-point season in the KHL, Gusev burst onto the scene with the Devils in 2019-20 with 44 points in 66 games. That offensive production completely dried up last season with just ten points in 31 games, and Gusev failed to even crack the Panthers lineup in the postseason. Still, at just 29, if he wants to stay in North America there will certainly be teams willing to take a chance on the Russian forward.
42. Antti Raanta – Carolina Hurricanes – 2 years, $3.4MM When healthy, Raanta has shown he can be an elite NHL goalie. The problem is he’s never healthy, and now he’s 32. He played just 12 games this season for the Coyotes and posted the worst save percentage since his rookie year at .905, certainly not inspiring much confidence that he can be a starter again. As a tandem or backup option you could do worse, but you better have a strong third option in case of injury.
Signed with Carolina, 2 years, $4MM
43. Sami Vatanen – Columbus Blue Jackets – 1 year, $1.5MM Just a few years ago Vatanen was part of a deep, productive defense corps in Anaheim, but since leaving the Ducks things haven’t gone very smoothly. The 30-year-old defenseman recorded just six points in 39 games between the Devils and Stars, playing the fewest minutes of his career. If you’re signing him now, don’t expect the 30-point player he was once.
44. Erik Gustafsson – Arizona Coyotes – 1 year, $1MM Gustafsson has never seen a rush he doesn’t want to join, and that offensive mindset often comes at the expense of his coach’s trust. This is a defenseman that scored 60 points in the 2018-19 season and was traded the following year, only to be passed around twice more since then. He can’t defend well enough to play big minutes, but there’s real offensive upside if you can find the right deployment for the 29-year-old.
45. James Reimer – Nashville Predators – 1 year, $2MM Reimer has never posted a save percentage below .900 in a full season and now has nearly 400 games of NHL experience. If you have a starter that’s going to carry the load, there’s a lot to like about the idea of him as a backup option as he moves into his mid-thirties.
Signed with San Jose, 2, years, $4.5MM
46. Derek Stepan – Minnesota Wild – 1 year, $2MM Last season was a tough one for the 31-year-old. He was traded to Ottawa in late December, joining a team that was expected to flip him later in the season. Instead, he struggled with the Senators before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury in late February. Stepan enters the market on a down note as a result but he could be a nice bounce-back candidate on a short-term contract as he looks to rebuild his value. His days of being a top-six option are numbered but he can still handle a bottom-six role while killing penalties which should still generate a fair amount of interest.
47. Alex Chiasson – Buffalo Sabres – 2 years, $3.2MM Chiasson wasn’t able to replicate the 22-goal season he had in his first year with Edmonton with his production returning closer to his normal numbers since then. Even so, those career averages put him as a 10-goal player that doesn’t need a lot of ice time and power play opportunities to get that type of production. He brings enough of a physical presence to hold his own in a bottom six role so while he’s not the type of addition that’s going to catch your eye right away, he’ll fill an important depth role for whoever signs him.
48. Eric Staal – Detroit Red Wings – 1 year, $2MM Staal was bad all year, looking disintrested in Buffalo and a step behind in Montreal. That is, until the playoffs, where he confidently played a depth role, lending his experience to the fourth line and even chipping in with eight points in 21 games. He’s 36 now and will likely have to continue in that kind of a fourth-line role if he wants to keep playing, but there’s enough respect around the league for the 17-year veteran that he could sign a cheap deal with a contender or a more expensive one to serve as a leader and mentor. If it’s the latter, he could still be a piece to move at the trade deadline.
49. Zach Bogosian – Vegas Golden Knights – 2 year, $2MM Coming off a Stanley Cup with the Lightning, Bogosian signed a one-year deal with the Maple Leafs as a depth option. Instead of battling for playing time, Bogosian was in the lineup much more often than not in Toronto, stabilizing the third pairing and adding some physicality to the back end. Despite playing 13 years in the league, the 31-year-old defenseman has only been to the playoffs twice. He was willing to leave money on the table when he asked Buffalo for a contract termination, so a low-money deal with a contender seems most likely.
Signed with Tampa Bay, 3 years, $2.55MM
50. Patrik Nemeth – New York Rangers – 3 years, $7.5MM Nemeth is a big, lengthy defenseman , which became the theme of the 2021 playoffs, but he also hasn’t been very effective in recent years. Perhaps that’s more to do with his team in Detroit than anything else, especially considering the Avalanche liked him enough to bring him back at the deadline this year.
Signed with New York, 3 years, $7.5MM