Hockey fans are looking forward to the free agency this summer, as the NHL season is looking to ride out its current suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and inevitably cancel the season. With that being said, the future of the league revolves around the movement of players in free agency and the capabilities of teams to both draft and cultivate their drafted talent.
For the hometown heroes, the Boston Bruins have five players who will be unrestricted free agents. Defenseman Torey Krug is 29 years old and has helped the Bruins’ defense excel through his prime. Longtime captain, defenseman Zdeno Chara, will also be a free agent at the age of 43 years old. Chara looks to play a couple more years for Boston, or for another team who would offer him a shot, but it seems more likely that Chara would want to retire a Bruin. Defenseman Kevan Miller and forward Joakim Nordstrom are both on the market for free agency, though they aren’t as high priority as Krug resigning with the team. Backup goaltender Jaroslav Halak is also on the market after helping the Bruins this season with some great games in relief for Tuuka Rask, making them one of the best tandems league-wide. Boston’s recent signing of goaltender Jeremy Swayman out of the University of Maine could lead them to let Halak walk in favor of developing their stalwart of the future in Swayman behind Rask.
Outside of Boston, the top available free agents across the league are in intense negotiations with their respective franchises to determine their futures. The top free-agent set to hit the market is Arizona Coyotes’ forward Taylor Hall, who won the Hart-Trophy for the Coyotes and is still on the rise in his prime. Outside of Hall, there’s a strong plethora of free agent forwards looking to find their homes for years to come, but a slight drop off in production. Colorado Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen is not one of those individuals, having contributed 41 points in the 42 games of this past season, but his puck handling leaves something to be desired. Additionally, the Colorado Avalanche has been looking to extend forward Vladislav Namestnikov, who is due to make $4 million over the next season. On the defensive side of the ice, St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo sits atop the list of defenders that will become a free agent this summer. Pietrangelo is a big and skilled skater that has Stanley Cup experience with one ring under his belt already.
For teams searching for a serviceable stalwart to bolster their goal protection, Capitals goaltender Branden Holtby will be on the market after a lengthy career as the back up goalie to Ilya Samsonov. Holtby is currently 30 years old on a $6.1 million per year contract. A fellow backup goaltender, Pittsburgh Penguins’ Thomas Greiss, has been as good as any goalie in the league in a backup role the past couple years. In this era of load management, that’s quite valuable. With some teams looking for a top goaltender, Greiss and Pietrangelo could find themselves in a starting position.