11 well-known free agents still without an NHL team next season

Aug 6 2019, 4:14 pm

In the National Hockey League, these are the dog days of summer.

It’s been nearly two months since the Stanley Cup was handed out, and it’ll be almost another two months before the regular season kicks off.

Free agency usually dominates offseason news, but at this point, most available players have already found new homes.

There are some notable exceptions though. Here’s 11 well-known players still without a team for next season:

1. Joe Thornton

Previous team: San Jose Sharks
Position: Centre
Age:
 40
2018-19 stats: 73 GP, 16 G, 35 A, 51 PTS

It seems likely that Joe Thornton will return to the San Jose Sharks next season, though he’s still unsigned. Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer was feeling optimistic when asked about Thornton’s future last month, saying: “I’m moving forward as if he’s going to be in our lineup in September.”

Time’s ticking.

2. Patrick Marleau

Previous team: Toronto Maple Leafs
Position: Centre/left wing
Age:
 39
2018-19 stats: 82 GP, 16 G, 21 A, 37 PTS

If Thornton returns to San Jose, he could be reunited with his old Sharks teammate Patrick Marleau. The Leafs gave up a first-round pick to get rid of Marleau’s contract, though there may be gas left in his tank.

Marleau is said to be wanting to return to the Sharks after being bought out by the Carolina Hurricanes earlier this summer.

3. Jake Gardiner

Previous team: Toronto Maple Leafs
Position: Defenceman
Age:
 26
2018-19 stats: 62 GP, 3 G, 27 A, 30 PTS

Perhaps the surprise of the summer has been the lack of interest in Maple Leafs defenceman Jake Gardiner. He was supposed to be one of the most in-demand blueliners this offseason, but he still hasn’t signed a contract.

It’s unlikely that Gardiner will return to the cash-strapped Leafs, so expect him to move to a new team — probably at a bargain price.

4. Ben Hutton

Previous team: Vancouver Canucks
Position: Defenceman
Age:
 26
2018-19 stats: 69 GP, 5 G, 15 A, 20 PTS

Ben Hutton was likely surprised to find himself in unrestricted free agency, given he’s only 26 and was scheduled to become an RFA.

Despite a bounce-back season for the Vancouver Canucks last season, the team was nervous about him potentially cashing in arbitration, and didn’t give him a qualifying offer. Defencemen are always in demand, and given his age and production, it’s surprising that he’s still unsigned.

5. Justin Williams

Previous team: Carolina Hurricanes
Position: Right wing
Age: 
37
2018-19 stats: 82 GP, 23 G, 30 A, 53 PTS

Mr. Game 7 is getting long in the tooth, but Carolina Hurricanes captain Justin Williams was still able to produce 53 points last season. Age hasn’t been able to sideline Williams, as the veteran has only missed three regular season games in the last eight years.

6. Patrick Maroon

Previous team: St. Louis Blues
Position: Left wing
Age: 
31
2018-19 stats: 74 GP, 10 G, 18 A, 28 PTS

Another Game 7 hero, Patrick Maroon scored arguably the biggest goal of the playoffs for the Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues.

7. Dion Phaneuf

Previous team: Los Angeles Kings
Position: Defenceman
Age: 
34
2018-19 stats: 67 GP, 1 G, 5 A, 6 PTS

Once an elite defenceman, Dion Phaneuf has not aged gracefully, putting up just six points with the LA Kings last season before getting bought out.

“One bad year is not going to define me,” Phaneuf said in June, adding that a couple of teams have reached out to him. “I know I’ve got lots of hockey left.”

8. Thomas Vanek

Previous team: Detroit Red Wings
Position: Left wing
Age: 
35
2018-19 stats: 64 GP, 16 G, 20 A, 36 PTS

Though clearly on the downside of his career, Thomas Vanek can still score goals, potting 16 in just 64 games last season. He’s still without a contract, but reportedly wants to play another season.

9. Jason Pominville

Previous team: Buffalo Sabres
Position: Right wing
Age: 
36
2018-19 stats: 73 GP, 16 G, 15 A, 31 PTS

Jason Pominville also wants to play next season, though he says he wants to find the right situation. He’s reportedly interested in returning to the Buffalo Sabres or joining the Montreal Canadiens.

10. Niklas Kronwall

Previous team: Detroit Red Wings
Position: Defenceman
Age: 
38
2018-19 stats: 79 GP, 3 G, 24 A, 27 PTS

Niklas Kronwall’s playing future is up in the air, as the veteran defenceman contemplates his future. Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman says there’s a spot waiting for him should he decide to return.

11. Derick Brassard

Previous team: Pittsburgh Penguins/Florida Panthers/Colorado Avalanche
Position: Centre
Age:
31
2018-19 stats: 70 GP, 14 G, 9 A, 23 PTS

It was an unusual year for Derick Brassard, who was traded twice in 25 days in February. Brassard had a down year offensively, but is just one year removed from a 46-point campaign.

Honourable mentions

Here’s the rest of the notable names still available in the NHL free agent bargain bin:

  • Brian Boyle (C)
  • Dan Girardi (D)
  • Drew Stafford (RW)
  • David Schlemko (D)
  • Marc Methot (D)
  • Luca Sbisa (D)
  • Ben Lovejoy (D)
  • Troy Brouwer (RW)
  • Michael Stone (D)
  • Alex Petrovic (D)
  • Magnus Paajarvi (LW)
  • Tobias Rieder (RW)
  • Andrew MacDonald (D)