10 best unrestricted free agents available in the NHL this year

Jun 29 2018, 6:08 am

Things are about to get busy in the NHL.

July 1 marks the start of free agency, and teams will officially be able to sign players as they look to shore up their rosters for next season.

While a few deals have already been foreshadowed, the final destinations for this year’s free agent crop is largely unknown.

The free agent pool may be lacking in terms of impact defencemen, but there are quite a few quality forwards on the market.

Here’s a look at the 10 best unrestricted free agents on the market.

1. John Tavares (New York Islanders)

Position: Centre
Age: 27
2017-18 Cap Hit: $5.5 million
2017-18 Stats: 82 GP, 37 G, 47 A, 84 PTS

The biggest fish in the free agent sea this summer is easily Tavares. The only question is whether or not he’ll make it there. On Wednesday, Tavares narrowed his list of potential teams down to six.¬†That includes his own New York Islanders as well as one Canadian team – the Toronto Maple Leafs.

2. James van Riemsdyk (Toronto Maple Leafs)

Position: Left wing
Age: 29
2017-18 Cap Hit: $4.25 million
2017-18 Stats: 82 GP, 36 G, 18 A, 54 PTS

After Tavares, van Reimsdyk might be in for the biggest payday of the free agents available this summer. His 36-goal season certainly helped his case, as did Evander Kane’s $7 million contract with San Jose a month ago.

3. Paul Statsny (Winnipeg Jets)

Position: Centre
Age: 32
2017-18 Cap Hit: $7 million
2017-18 Stats: 82 GP, 16 G, 37 A, 53 PTS

The second-best centre hitting UFA status is the veteran playmaker Statsny. Reports suggest the Winnipeg Jets are doing everything in their power to sign him¬†after adding him at the trade deadline last year, but that’s easier said than done. He’d be a good addition to any team looking for a top-six centre.

4. David Perron (Vegas Golden Knights)

Position: Left/right wing
Age: 30
2017-18 Cap Hit: $3.75 million
2017-18 Stats: 70 GP, 16 G, 50A, 66 PTS

Perron is coming off the most productive season of his NHL career playing for the Vegas Golden Knights. Despite the Golden Knights having a ton of cap space, it looks like Perron will be hitting the open market on July 1st. He should generate interest from several teams looking for scoring from the wing since he can play on both the left and right side.

5. Mike Green (Detroit Red Wings)

Position: Defence
Age: 32
2017-18 Cap Hit: $6 million
2017-18 Stats: 66 GP, 8 G, 25 A, 33 PTS

The best free agent defenceman available this summer might not be available after all. The Detroit Red Wings and Green are reportedly close on a two-year deal. But with Green being the top defenceman available, he would likely get some more lucrative offers if he waits for July 1.

6. James Neal (Vegas Golden Knights)

Position: Left wing
Age: 30
2017-18 Cap Hit: $5 million
2017-18 Stats: 71 GP, 25 G, 19 A, 44 PTS

When it comes to proven goal scorers, few have a track record like Neal. Another Golden Knights’ standout, Neal tallied 25 goals last season, and has scored at least 20 in each of his 10 NHL seasons.

7. Tyler Bozak (Toronto Maple Leafs)

Position: Centre
Age: 32
2017-18 Cap Hit: $4.2 million
2017-18 Stats: 81 GP, 11 G, 32 A, 43 PTS

After nine seasons in Toronto, Bozak said it was his ‘top priority’ to sign with the Maple Leafs this summer, but the Leafs seem content to move on. Bozak is in line to get one of the larger contracts this summer due to the lack of quality centres available, and will likely get a raise from his previous $4.2 million cap hit.

8. Riley Nash (Boston Bruins)

Position: Centre
Age: 29
2017-18 Cap Hit: $900,000
2017-18 Stats: 76 GP, 15 G, 26 A, 41 PTS

With the better Nash contemplating retirement, Riley becomes the top Nash available this summer. He’s also one of the better two-way centres of the class. His career-high 41 points came at the perfect time, and Nash will be in for a big raise from the $900k he earned last season.

9. John Moore (New Jersey Devils)

Position: Defence
Age: 27
2017-18 Cap Hit: $1.66 million
2017-18 Stats: 81 GP, 7 G, 11 A, 18 PTS

Moore’s 18 points in 81 games last season won’t jump off the page, but he holds value as one of the better defencemen in this free agent class, and also one of the youngest. He was an above-average possession player in New Jersey last season, and averaged 1:49 of shorthanded time per game.

10. Carter Hutton (St Louis Blues)

Position: Goalie
Age: 32
2017-18 Cap Hit: $1.125 million
2017-18 Stats: 32 GP, 17-7-3, .931 SV%, 2.09 GAA, 3 SO

A weak free agent goalie class is perfect for Carter Hutton, who’s coming off his best season to date. His .931 save percentage was the best of any goalie that played 30 games last year. Whether a team takes a chance on Hutton to be their starter remains to be seen, but he will get a hefty raise on last year’s $1.125 million salary either way.

Other notable names

  • Joe Thornton (likely going to re-sign in San Jose, scored 36 points in 47 games)
  • Rick Nash (contemplating retirement, 34 points in 71 games)
  • Valtteri Filppula (33 points in 80 games)
  • Patrick Maroon (40 points in 73 games)
  • Michael Grabner (36 points in 79 games)
  • Thomas Vanek (56 points in 79 games)
  • Derek Ryan (38 points in 79 games)
  • Blake Comeau (33 points in 78 games)
  • Tomas Plekanec (26 points in 76 games)
  • Tobias Rieder (25 points in 77 games)
  • Dan Hamhuis (24 points in 79 games)
  • Leo Komarov 19 points in 73 games)
  • John Moore (18 points in 80 games)
  • Kevin Bieksa (8 points in 58 games)
See also
Bailey MeadowsBailey Meadows

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