If necessary, game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final will take place on September 30th. Less than a week later, the NHL draft commences on October 6th. Three days after that, Free Agent Frenzy officially begins. Needless to say, the next few weeks around the league will be very hectic, and for hockey writers like myself, you're already starting to sweat at the thought of how much content you'll have to churn out amidst your busy schedule.
So I figured I would map my plan of attack early. Here is a sneak peek at Free Agent Frenzy, and a few trade rumors that have been swirling around the league. Let's get started.
Alex Pietrangelo, D, St. Louis Blues
The St. Louis Blues front office announced recently that they would be letting their captain test free agency this offseason. Pietrangelo is the biggest name on the free agent market this year, and the star defenseman and 2019 Stanley Cup Champion will be drawing the attention of many teams who need help on the blue line. Pietrangelo had 52 points on 16 goals and 36 assists in 2019-20. Obviously every team needs good defense, but some teams need it more than others going into 2021. Teams that could be potential players on Pietrangelo are:
St. Louis Blues
Taylor Hall, LW, Arizona Coyotes
Our next top free agent of 2020 is the 2018 Hart Memorial Trophy winner. Hall was drafted first overall in 2010 by the Edmonton Oilers, and since has been traded to the New Jersey Devils, who then traded him to the Arizona Coyotes. Arizona's front office has recently been vocal with some concern when it comes to their chances of re-signing Hall; stating that it would require "moving a lot of money around" to retain the left winger. The 28 year old played part of the 2019-20 season in New Jersey before he was traded to the Arizona Coyotes where he would help the team make a playoff push. Hall posted 52 points on 16 goals and 36 assists in 2019-20. Teams in need of a solid veteran forward, and possible pursuers of Hall are:
Columbus Blue Jackets
New York Islanders
Torey Krug, D, Boston Bruins
Krug might be off the board sooner than we think. Both Krug and Bruins GM Don Sweeney have expressed mutual interest in keeping Krug in Boston. Those talks should start heating up within the next few weeks. However, it is not a guarantee that Boston will be able to retain Krug, as the Bruins have big name RFA's that need to be taken care of before talks over a long term deal with Krug can continue. As far as NHL defenseman go, Krug is one of the criminally underrated. The Boston defenseman ranked 6th in the league in assists this year, with 40. He had 9 goals and 49 points. Krug is also tied for 6th in the league on power play points, so general managers looking to shore up their special teams should be after Krug. Teams that could be potentially in on Krug are:
Vegas Golden Knights
Robin Lehner, G, Vegas Golden Knights
Lehner's name was surrounded by all sorts of controversy during the playoffs, but through no fault of his own. The front office feud between Marc-Andre Fleury's agent and Vegas' head coach Peter DeBoer made things awkward for the two Vegas goaltenders this offseason. Their two options are simple: trade Fleury and re-sign Lehner, or let Lehner walk and give Fleury his spot as starting goaltender back. Either guy is capable of being an elite starting goalie, but only one guy is a free-agent this year. Lehner is one of the top goaltenders in the league, and there will be many teams in play for him if he doesn't return to Vegas. Those teams could be:
Vegas Golden Knights
Toronto Maple Leafs
San Jose Sharks
New Jersey Devils
There are plenty of other big name free agents on the board this offseason. But for the sake of time, I only covered the top 5 names. Other notable free agents are:
Tyson Barrie, D, Toronto Maple Leafs
Jacob Markstrom, G, Vancouver Canucks
Mike Hoffman, LW/RW, Florida Panthers
Braden Holtby, G, Washington Capitals
Jesper Fast, RW, New York Rangers
Travis Hamonic, D, Calgary Flames
Anton Khudobin, G, Dallas Stars
Corey Crawford, G, Chicago Blackhawks
Ilya Kovalchuk, LW, Washington Capitals
Kevin Shattenkirk, D, Tampa Bay Lightning
Wayne Simmonds, RW, Buffalo Sabres
Toronto Maple Leafs trade Kasperi Kapanen, Pontus Aberg and defenseman Jesper Lindgren to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a 2020 first-round pick, forwards Evan Rodrigues, Filip Hallander and defenseman David Warsofsky.
Minnesota Wild trade center Eric Staal to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for forward Marcus Johansson.
Pittsburgh Penguins trade Patric Hornqvist to the Florida Panthers in exchange for defenseman Mike Matheson, and forward Colton Sceviour.
St. Louis Blues trade goalie Jake Allen and a 2022 seventh-round pick to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for a 2020 third-round pick and seventh-round pick.
Pittsburgh Penguins trade center Nick Bjugstad to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for a conditional pick in the 2021 draft.
Carolina Hurricanes trade defenseman Joel Edmundson to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for a 2020 fifth-round pick.
Could Patrik Laine be on the Move?
There has been a lot of talk on whether or not the Winnipeg Jets would be open to moving star winger Patrik Laine. And as recently as last night, a report surfaced that the Jets were supposedly "serious" about fielding calls on Laine. Winnipeg will look to trade for a center and a defenseman if they can strike the right deal. Laine is one of the premier players in the game today, and if the Jets decide to move him, it will cost a haul. The two reported teams that we know of so far that are interested in trading for Laine are the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Carolina Hurricanes. (Reported by TSN's Pierre LeBrun)
Henrik Lundqvist Trade/Buy Out?
This isn't a new story. This has been a story line since the beginning of the season. Lundqvist has one more year on his massive contract, but the Rangers don't seem willing to wait for it to expire. Obviously the 38 year old future hall-of-fame goaltender is on the back end of his career, and when star goalie prospect Igor Shesterkin made his debut in 2020, it made it abundantly clear that Lundqvist's days with the organization were numbered. Recent reports suggests that there is at least one team interested in a trade for Lundqvist. If the Rangers cannot strike a deal for a trade, Hank will most likely be bought out, effectively ending his 15 year NHL career. Is anyone else getting Eli Manning vibes from this?
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