The National Hockey League's free agent frenzy officially got under way on Friday and we saw a boatload of big signings from a number of different teams around the league. Big names like Jacob Markstrom, Torey Krug, Corey Crawford, Braden Holtby, and even Henrik Lundqvist come off the board, but although there were some big names claimed by certain teams, there are many, many. more that are still up for grabs.
In fact you could easily make an argument that the biggest names on the free agent market this offseason are the ones that still remain so for those of you out there concerned about the lack of movement from your favorite teams, there may still be a considerable amount of light at the end of the tunnel. Now of course some of the names on this list will be much more difficult to acquire given their status as restricted free agents, but even when we get into the unrestricted side of things there are plenty of big names still up for grabs.
With that in mind here is a quick look at what I feel are the Top 9 free agents still up for grabs.
#1 Mathew Barzal.
There's no question that Barzal is the sexiest name on this list and for that reason he is taking the top spot. The Islanders forward has been dynamic throughout his career and although I fully expect him to remain and Islander it would not surprise me to see a team in need take a shot at an elite type of talent in Barzal.
#2 Alex Pietrangelo.
The signing of former Boston Bruins defenseman Torey Krug stunned the world on Friday. Many believe that this has shut the door on a potential return to St. Louis for Pietrangelo, myself included, and the question now is where will the elite defenseman and former Captain of the Blues end up?
#3 Taylor Hall.
The top unrestricted free agent forward on the market this offseason is still available and I wonder how much the last two seasons, both down years for Hall, have to do with that. Hall is a big name and a talented player to be sure, but there's also a stigma around him after a career marred by underachievement thus far.
#4 Sam Reinhart.
The Buffalo Sabres have the cap space to match any offer sheet that will come Reinhart's way, but there are rumblings that Sabres ownership has imposed an internal cap on the team that could make that more challenging. Like Barzal I fully expect Reinhart will remain with his current team, but crazier things have happened.
#5 Ryan Strome.
Similar to Barzal and Reinhardt, Strome is a restricted free agent in the offseason. The Rangers have a number of restricted free agents they need to deal with but with $20 million in cap space it seems unlikely that Strome will be going anywhere else. Perhaps an overpay on an offer sheet could get the Rangers to balk at re-signing him, but I don't expect any team to come in with that kind of aggressive offer for Strome.
#6 Tyson Barrie.
The former Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman is already being linked to the Vancouver Canucks, but anything could change in the next several hours or even days. An offensively gifted defenseman who is strong in the opposing zone, Barrie's liabilities elsewhere on the ice is what has led both the Colorado Avalanche and the Maple Leafs to move on from him in recent years.
#7 Pierre Luc Dubois.
In terms of his raw talent he probably deserves to be higher up on this list, but given the fact that I think there is something akin to a 0% chance that the Blue Jackets let him walk away I have him lower on the list. It would take a monster offer sheet to lure the talented centerman from the Blue Jackets and it would likely also take a monster offer sheet to get him to sign on the dotted line.
#8 Mike Hoffman.
Hoffman has a very good ability for finding the back of the net and given that he has averaged over 30 goals and 30 assists over the past 2 seasons with the Florida Panthers it is a bit surprising to me that the 30 years old forward is still out there on the open market. Hoffman's time in Ottawa however did raise some red flags regarding his personal life however, as well as questions about how he fits into a locker room, so perhaps that is why NHL general managers are shying away.
#9 Evgeny Dadonov.
Another member of the Florida Panthers hitting the open market, Dadonov is also coming off the back of some pretty solid seasons with the Panthers. Unlike Hoffman he doesn't have any red flags regarding his personal life, but he does produce at a slightly lower rate than his teammate and is also slightly older than him as well.