NHL Free Agent Frenzy: Tier list of top UFA’s

By Forever Blueshirts
NHL Free Agents
Hamilton may miss Rangers series (Getty Images)

This summer, there are a number of unrestricted free agents about to hit the market. Some names like Alex Ovechkin are unlikely to make it to July 28th, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of options.

Here’s a look by tiers at the top UFA’s available and some possible destinations.

NHL Free Agency: Top Tier

Dougie Hamilton (D): The NHL loves to chase after top-end right-handed defenseman. You saw what Alex Pietrangelo was able to get in this economy, and that’s what 28 year-old Dougie will go after too. He’s in line for a new deal in the $9 million AAV range. The Hurricanes allowed Hamilton to talk with other teams but now want him to decide if he’s returning or hitting the market. NJ is pushing hard for him. Destinations: Hurricanes, Kraken, Devils

Gabriel Landeskog (F): There’s always a market for power forwards and ones with leadership skills to boot. The 28 year-old plays the game tough and physical, so wear and tear are a genuine concern. He’ll be coming off a deal that paid him $5.5 million AAV but his 41 points in 41 games this season means a huge pay raise is coming. Will the Avs let him walk? The two sides, appear to be far apart and he could be heading elsewhere. Destinations: Avalanche, Blues, Islanders

Zach Hyman (F): The Edmonton Oilers spent time with Zach Hyman to court him into coming to play there. It appears that is on the verge of happening. There was some thought that a sign and trade with the Maple Leafs was in the cards in order to give Hyman an 8 year-deal, but there’s a disconnect as to what that’s worth. He should be signing a 7 year deal once free agency opens. Destinations: Oilers

New York Rangers free agents
Dec 28, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Rangers forward Filip Chytil (72) battles to stop Toronto Maple Leafs forward Zach Hyman (11) from playing the puck in the second period at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

David Savard (D): One of the biggest catches at the NHL Trade Deadline, the 30 year-old defenseman will be a prized UFA this summer. It is unlikely that the Tampa Bay Lightning will try to re-sign him. If they do, they will need to move major salary out to make it happen. Regardless, he’s already at the top of a few teams’ lists and winning the Stanley Cup always helps. Destinations: Canadiens, Wild

Phillip Grubauer (G): Here’s another name that is a pending UFA but is unlikely to get there. The Colorado Avalanche will look to lock up the 29 year-old Grubauer but they will have to fork over more than his current $3.33 AAV. If the Avs try to low-ball him and he goes to the open market, he could wear another sweater. Destinations: Avalanche

Frederik Andersen (G): If there was one goalie I could see in a new uniform, it is Frederik Andersen. You almost get the sense he’s worn out his welcome with the Toronto fans and media. The 31 year-old spent a lot of time on LTIR, and earns $5 million AAV. He will be looking for a raise, but it appears the Leafs may be very happy with Jack Campbell going forward. Destinations: Hurricanes, Maple Leafs

Tyson Barrie (D): The 29 year-old rearguard took a one year deal with the Edmonton Oilers. Barrie bet on himself and it appears the move should pay off. He has 48 points in 57 games this season which was tops for all defensemen. He will command big bucks by any team looking for a PP quarterback. Destinations: Oilers, Red Wings, Sabres, Hurricanes

Phillip Danault (F): Would you spend $6 million plus on a defensive center? During the regular season, he put up a respectable 24 points in 53 games. His face-off percentage of 52.5 shows his consistency and effectiveness in the dots. For his career, he wins 53.8% of the draws he takes. He is a shutdown center who is respectable offensively. Destinations: Kings, Kraken, Rangers, Blue Jackets

Mike Hoffman (F): The 31 year-old struggled this season but came on late for the Blues. He finished with 36 points in 52 games and will help several teams looking for some scoring. Destinations: Blues, Islanders, Kings, Golden Knights, Devils

NHL Free Agency: Mid Tier

nhl free agent frenzy
Apr 28, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez (23) knocks the puck out of the air against the Colorado Avalanche during the first period at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: John Locher/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

Jaden Schwartz (F): The 29 year-old Schwartz struggled this year with just 21 points in 40 games. He has 60-65 point potential and plays a solid two-way game so there will be interest. Depending on how he performs the rest of the way, he could be had to a similar AAV of $5.35 million. Destinations: Kraken

Alec Martinez (D): He is a proven winner, and can still play top four minutes at 34 years of age. There’s mutual interest in staying with Vegas so he may not be around come July 28. If he hits the market, there will be plenty of suitors. Destinations: Golden Knights, Canadiens, Rangers, Stars, Wild

Keith Yandle (D): He turns 35 in September and had two seasons remaining on a seven-year, $44.45 million deal he signed in June 2016 prior to his buyout. He can still help a power play out and will be looked at by contenders when free agency opens. Destinations: Bruins, Golden Knights, Wild, Islanders, Hurricanes

Linus Ullmark (G): This is the goalie teams should target. The 27 year-old goalie is coming off a bargain deal of $2.6 million and is going to be worth at least double. He’s an absolute gamer playing on one of the most abysmal teams I’ve ever seen in my 30 years of watching the sport. The Sabres want to keep him and thus refused to move him at the deadline, his camp may be looking at the freedom of free agency. We will see where this goes. Destinations: Hurricanes, Oilers, Maple Leafs

Brandon Saad (F): The 28 year-old had a nice season with the Avalanche with 15 goals and 24 points in 44 contests. He’s coming off a $5 million AAV deal and will certainly will be a desirable add, but I’m not sure the Avs are going to pay him top dollar. He seems destined for a new team. Destinations: Penguins, Blues, Kings

Brandon Montour (D): Another big trade deadline acquisition, Montour may have found a new home with the Panthers. Albeit nothing is set in stone and until he inks a deal he could hit the open market. If that happens, Montour will be a hot commodity in free agency. Destinations: Panthers, Bruins, Canadiens, Wild, Stars

Nick Foligno (F): The 33 year-old forward is one of the best leaders in the game. It seems a return to Columbus is unlikely. There is word that Foligno would like to join his brother Marcus in Minnesota. Destinations: Wild, Blue Jackets, Oilers

Casey Cizikas (F): The Islanders “Identity Line” center should be the top free agent the Rangers should target. He wins draws, and scores clutch goals in the postseason. Cizikas isn’t physically imposing at 5-11 and 195 lbs but he plays so much bigger than his size. Destinations: Islanders, Rangers, Flyers

casey cizikas
Feb 8, 2021; New York, NY, USA; Casey Cizikas #53 of the New York Islanders scores at 11:15 of the third period against Igor Shesterkin #31 of the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on February 08, 2021 in New York City. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Bennett/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Martinook (F): He’s a ferocious forechecker and physical player that refuses to back down. In 2018-19 he registered 199 hits to go along with 46 blocks playing in all 82 games for the Hurricanes. The guy is also vocal in the locker-room, beloved by his teammates, and wears a letter on his sweater too. He’s a great bottom six guy. Destinations: Rangers, Flyers

Black Coleman (F): The center turned winger had himself an excellent season for the Tampa Bay Lightning with 31 points in 55 games. At 5-11 and 200 lbs, he is a solid forward who is aggressive on the puck, and hits with purpose. This season he racked up 109 hits but has been known to throw his body a lot more. Destinations: Kraken

Kyle Palmieri (F): The 30 year-old Long Island native struggled during the regular season after his acquisition. In 17 games he collected just four points with some doubting why the Islanders went hard to obtain him. Then the playoffs rolled around and he came alive with 7 goals and 2 assists in 19 games. He will take that performance to market. Destinations: Bruins, Blues, Islanders

NHL Free Agency: Low Tier

rangers rumors
May 13, 2021; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter (20) shoots during the first period against the St. Louis Blues at Enterprise Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Suter (D): The veteran defenseman from Madison, Wis., posted 19 points (three goals, 16 assists) in 56 games in 2021-22. He has 607 points (93 goals, 514 assists) in 1,198 games with the Nashville Predators (2005-12) and Wild. His buyout came as a shock but there are plenty of teams already lining up. Destinations: Bruins, Islanders, Rangers

David Krejci (C): This Boston Bruins center will be a UFA in 2021 at the age of 35. He can still play as he has 44 points in 51 games this season. Krejci will be coming off a deal that pays him $7.25 million and will get nothing close to that in the flat cap era. Teams looking for a veteran center to play second or third line minutes will do well here but it sounds like the B’s are trying to keep him. Destinations: Bruins

Ryan Getzlaf (C): He is getting up there at 36 years-old. Getzlaf will also be coming off the last year of a big contract that paid $8.25 million. Just like Krejci he will not see anything close to it, but has immense value. The 6’4″ pivot notched just 18 points in 48 games. I have a feeling he will sign for a bargain to remain in Anaheim. Destinations: Ducks, Canadiens, Rangers

Zach Parise (F): He’s a 16-year NHL veteran, tallied 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists) in 45 games in 2021-22. He has 810 points (393 goals, 417 assists) in 1,060 career games with the New Jersey Devils (2005-12) and Wild. Destinations: Islanders

Paul Stastny (F): The 35 year-old scored 29 points in 56 games and still has some left in the tank. It will be interesting to see where he lands. Destinations: Blues, Jets, Kraken

Alex Edler (D): What will the market be like for a 35 year-old defenseman who only picked up 8 points in 52 games last season remains to be seen. However; if there’s a team who wants a stabilizing presence and has the ability to block shots, Edler could be a fit. He was fourth in the NHL last season with 118 blocks. Destinations: Lightning

Luke Glendening (C): Offensively, the 32 year-old Glendening is not going to bring much to the table, but that’s not why you would sign him. For his career, he has a winning FO% of 54.8 and is without a doubt a specialist. Destinations: Flyers, Maple Leafs, Penguins

Jaroslav Halak (G): There’s several goalies available, but the 36 year-old Halak is as solid as they come. He’s leaving Boston for newer pastures and is rumored to be wanted by the Flyers. He finished the season with a 9-6-4 records, .905 SV% and a 2.53 GAA. Destinations: Flyers, Oilers, Hurricanes

–This article first appeared at The Daily Goal Horn.