Taylor Hall leads list of NHL Free Agents
Feb 20, 2020; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; Arizona Coyotes left wing Taylor Hall (91) handles the puck during the third period against the St. Louis Blues at Enterprise Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

We are still far away from the resumption of play in the NHL, but it is never too early to look ahead at the top free agents. This next offseason, whenever that is, will be full of star players that could change the direction of a franchise (cough, Buffalo, cough).

Let’s take a look at some of the biggest names that could be available once the Stanley Cup is awarded.

NHL free agent game changers: The best options for offense

When it comes to summer shopping lists, many NHL general managers are looking for offense. Here are three big names that teams will look at to make a run at providing instant offensive punch to their lineups.

  • Taylor Hall: This C/LW will be the top prize of free agency if he gets there. During the trade deadline, Pierre Lebrun mentioned that the Arizona Coyotes were working hard on a new deal and it is likely to get done. Of course until it is signed and submitted to the league he will remain at the top of the list. Now who can afford the expected $10-11 million price tag is the real question.
  • Tyson Barrie: His name popped up late during the trade deadline and it looks like the Toronto Maple Leafs are going to move on from what could be an $8 million asking price. Defensive issues aside he can score 50 points with his eyes closed. Right-handed defensemen are always at a premium.
  • Mike Hoffman: An interesting forward who has a bit of a bad reputation (fair or unfair) dating back to his time in Ottawa. The guy can score goals and I assure you someone will give up a decent pick to get early negotiation rights at the draft. Offense-starved clubs like the Islanders and the Sabres will be in on Hoffman.

Alex Pietrangelo and Torey Krug headline free agent defensemen

Another sought after prize general managers covet are two-way defenseman. This summer there are two that many will look to sign. Alex Pietrangelo (STL) and Torey Krug (BOS) were not traded this past deadline which is always a risk that they can walk away for nothing. Should their respective teams fail to sign them by the draft, expect their rights to be moved for picks.

“LeBrun expects whatever offers Pietrangelo and Krug receive from their respective teams will be less than what they can get on the open market on July 1. He thinks the Blues could offer Pietrangelo something comparable to the eight-year, $64-million contract John Carlson signed with the Washington Capitals. The Bruins, meanwhile, could be reluctant to pay Krug more than teammates David Pastrnak ($6.6 million AAV) and Patrice Bergeron ($6.875 million).”

Spector’s Hockey

The puck stops here: Braden Holtby a key free agent

Stanley Cup winning goaltenders are not often on the market when free agent frenzy begins. This summer it looks like there will be one by the name of Braden Holtby. The Washington Capitals goaltender is coming off a deal with a cap hit of $6.1 million and would need to consider giving the cap strapped Caps a hometown discount if he wants to stay.

The problem for the 30-year-old backstop is Ilya Samsonov. At 23 years old he is not only younger and cheaper, but also outplayed Holtby this past regular season. Which means Braden will need to be updating his equipment and getting a new paint job on his goalie helmet this offseason. Expect the Carolina Hurricanes to go all out for Holtby.