Now that a full week has passed since the free agent market opened up on July 1st, there are still quite a few quality players left on the market. Unfortunately for most of these players, the fact that the salary cap only went up to $83.5MM for the 2023-24 season, has severely limited teams from adding more talent to their roster.
There are a few teams, such as the Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Tampa Bay Lightning, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Vegas Golden Knights that are currently too close to the cap to make any more significant additions; however, there are a number of teams that still have some financial wiggle room. In this list, we will go through some of the top remaining names left on the market organized by position.
Patrick Kane – His long-time teammate, Jonathan Toews, is most likely headed towards retirement, but thus far, there has been no indication to suggest that Kane will join him down that path. During the 2021-22 season, Kane continued displaying incredible offensive talent, which has spanned over the last decade, evidenced by his 92 points in 78 games. Unfortunately for Kane, a nagging hip injury seemed to follow him around, as he was only able to muster a total of 35 points in 50 games for the Chicago Blackhawks, only nine of those being goals. As the league grew closer to the trade deadline, speculation grew that Kane may not be moved at all.
To prove the doubters wrong, in his last five games wearing a Blackhawks uniform, Kane scored three goals and seven assists in five games and was promptly moved to the New York Rangers. Needing some time to adjust to a new environment, Kane put up a respectable 12 points in 19 games for the Rangers during the regular season. Even more importantly, Kane did continue his impressive career-long playoff success, scoring six points in seven games for New York.
Vladimir Tarasenko – Now one of Kane’s former teammates with the Rangers, Tarasenko is also suffering from a depressed year according to his standards. Just a season ago, Tarasenko finished with 82 points in 75 games, looking to be setting himself nicely to hit the market this offseason. Much like Kane, Tarasenko’s offensive numbers took a dive, only scoring 10 goals in 38 games for the St.Louis Blues, before he was also traded to New York before the deadline.
In 31 games for the Rangers, Tarasenko did see a slight offensive output improvement, but not by much. In 31 games in New York, he scored eight goals and 13 assists, adding another four points in seven playoff games. Tarasenko had been heavily linked to the Ottawa Senators and Carolina Hurricanes towards the opening of the market, but was so underwhelmed by his offers, that he switched his representation to CAA Hockey.
Tomas Tatar – One of the more interesting names still available in the free agency market, Tatar has made it difficult for teams to gauge exactly what kind of player they are going to get. In the regular season, he is typically good for 20 goals, and anywhere from 25-35 assists. Last season playing for the New Jersey Devils, Tatar scored 20 goals and 28 assists in 82 games, impressively carrying a rating of +41 at season’s end.
Not only does he carry above-average offensive output for the majority of his career, his possession numbers are solid too, evidenced by his career marks of 60.6 CF%. The major problem for Tatar is the completely different player that seems to come out during the playoffs. In 52 career playoff games, Tatar carries a horrid seven goals and six assists, and an even worse -14 rating. This fact about Tatar has likely driven playoff teams away from his camp, and even rebuilding teams as well, as they likely wouldn’t receive much interest for his services at the trade deadline.
Mathew Dumba – One of the focal points to the Minnesota Wild’s defense over the last decade, Dumba has seemingly become a different player after his impressive 2017-18 season. The offensive numbers have taken the biggest hit, only scoring 94 points in the last 209 games wearing a Wild jersey. Things are not all bad though for Dumba, as he regularly played over 20 minutes a game in Minnesota, saw ice time on the penalty kill, and still carries an oiSV% of 90.5.
Because of their cap situation, it is more than likely that Dumba has played his last game for the Wild, and the two most interested teams find themselves well out of the playoff picture for the next couple of seasons. The Arizona Coyotes have reportedly been linked to Dumba, giving him better access to power-play time; and the San Jose Sharks have considered adding him as well, citing Dumba as a possible replacement for Erik Karlsson.
Martin Jones – The 2023 free agency class was always considered thin, and the goalie market may have been the thinnest of all positions. Most quality names have already signed up to this point, making Jones one of the better options still available.
During the 2022-23 season, Jones had a back-and-forth season. During a stretch in early January for Seattle, Jones produced a record of 7-0-0, carrying a .926 SV% during that stretch. The win streaks that the Kraken were able to achieve with Jones in the net ultimately put the team in the playoffs, but the overall picture of Jones’ year doesn’t look promising. Although finishing with a great record of 27-13-3, Jones finished the year with a .886 SV% and a 2.99 GAA. The underlying numbers don’t bode well for Jones either, as his GSAA finished at -21.4.