The uncertainty that has been caused as a result of the global pandemic has impacted every life and every business around the world and the National Hockey League has been no exception. There is a ton of uncertainty about the future of the NHL and the financial difficulties brought on by the pandemic are already having a major impact on the league. This offseason has seen a free agency unlike any other I have seen in recent memory and the reality is there are going to be a lot of players shocked at the fact that they will not be receiving a contract offer for next season.
Teams are clearly still trying to sort out their financials for next season and there has been talk from all around the league about owners imposing an internal cap on their general managers, the kind of decisions that could explain why so many players still remain unsigned at this stage. Although there are still some dynamic forwards up for grabs, goal scoring specialist Mike Hoffman immediately comes to mind in that regard, the pool of defensemen has dried up considerably and teams looking to make significant additions to the blue line will have to spend their money wisely moving forward. In terms of point production from the blue line last season your best 3 options, at least in terms of points per game, right now are Sami Vatanen, Madison Bowey, and Michael Del Zotto, when you consider the fact that Bowey wasn't even qualified by the Detroit Red Wings those are slim pickings indeed.
So where can teams still find help on the blue line? Well here are the 3 best options I believe are still available.
#1 Sami Vatanen.
I mentioned him already and there's no doubt that in terms of the free agents still out there Vatanen is going to be your top pick on the blue line. The former member of the Anaheim Ducks, New Jersey Devils and most recently the Carolina Hurricanes has the most offensive talent of any defenseman still on the market and is coming off a decent season despite being on a struggling New Jersey Devils team. Vatanen had 5 goals and 18 assists for 23 points in 47 regular season games and added an additional 3 points, all assists, during a 7 game playoff run with the Carolina Hurricanes.
#2 Zdeno Chara.
The fact that Chara remains a free agent comes as a bit of a surprise to me as I would have expected the Bruins to offer him another short term deal at this point, especially considering that they already lost veteran Torey Krug in free agency. Chara is of course very old by the standards of an NHL hockey player but the big man still ate up a staggering 21 minutes of ice time last season in spite of being the oldest defenseman in the league by a considerable margin. His vision of the game, his dedication to staying in shape during the offseason, and of course the massive reach of his stick have all contributed to making him a viable option on the blue line well past his prime.
#3 Travis Hamonic.
Hamonic's recent form has no doubt damaged his value considerably and while some may be surprised to see him still available on the open market I don't see it as that much of a shock. Hamonic has slowed down after 637 games in the NHL and his most recent decision to opt out of the NHL's return to play has no doubt only further damaged his value in the eyes of NHL general managers. No doubt Hamonic had good reason not to show up for the playoffs, but I also believe that teams around the league have been influenced by that decision when it comes to potentially signing Hamonic.