NHL’s Top Remaining UFAs
Cream of the remaining crop: If you thought free agency was done, think again. Some teams have as few as 22 (Seattle Kraken) of 50 players under contract, with the highest total at 48 (San Jose Sharks). That means there are tons of players left to be signed in order to fill out each team’s roster.
And which are the best remaining players? Well, a good way to figure that out is to look at medium-term average production; we gathered data on each player’s average Goals per Game (G/GP) and Points per Game (P/GP) and each goalie’s average Save Percentage (Sv%) and Goals Against Average (GAA) over the past three years. Based on the numbers, six remaining players stand out from the rest.
Note: While rumors exist about many players below, since they’re still unsigned, they’re assumed to be available.
While you wouldn’t want his previous cap hit [PCH] of $7,538,462, LW Zach Parise (Age 36; 0.32 G/GP, 0.66 P/GP) is the first great pickup if you can get him at the right price and term. A second option is LW Tomas Tatar (Age 30; 0.29 G/GP, 0.75 P/GP; $5,300,000 PCH), who should have a number of years left in him. Similar things can be said about playoff standout RW Kyle Palmieri (Age 30; 0.33 G/GP, 0.61 P/GP; $4,650,000 PCH) and LW Nikita Gusev (Age 28; 0.18 G/GP, 0.56 P/GP; $1,000,000 PCH), but Gusev is likely to have the best return on investment. Moreover, one could argue the best defenseman available on the market is Erik Gustafsson (Age 29; 0.14 G/GP, 0.58 P/GP; $3,000,000 PCH), who has almost double the production when compared to the next best D-man available. And finally, C Joe Thornton (Age 41; 0.15 G/GP, 0.55 P/GP; $700,000 PCH) appears to have plenty of production left in him, despite his age, and could offer excellent value.
Value pick-ups: If you view things from a cost-benefit perspective, there are numerous other players available to fill out a team’s roster. The best option is likely C Dominik Kahun (Age 25; 0.18 G/GP, 0.45 P/GP; $975,000 PCH) due to his age and assumed price. Thereafter, RW Bobby Ryan (Age 34; 0.20 G/GP, 0.47 P/GP; $1,000,000 PCH), C Tyler Ennis (Age 31; 0.21 G/GP, 0.42 P/GP; $1,000,000 PCH), and C Alex Galchenyuk (Age 27; 0.19 G/GP, 0.47 P/GP; $1,050,000 PCH) are decent options. At defense, Sami Vatanen (Age 30; 0.08 G/GP, 0.34 P/GP; $2,000,000 PCH) and Zdeno Chara (Age 44; 0.06 G/GP, 0.21 P/GP; $795,000 PCH) offer a great combination of ice time and production at a good price. And finally, the only serviceable goalie left that will most likely come at a good price is Curtis McElhinney (Age 38; .904 Sv%, 2.76 GAA; $1,300,000 PCH).
Also worth consideration: If teams are able to negotiate a much lower cap hit or need to spend to get up to the cap floor, there are plenty more players available. On the younger side, you could consider RW Alex Chiasson (Age 30; 0.23 G/GP, 0.43 P/GP; $2,150,000 PCH), C Marcus Johansson (Age 30; 0.18 G/GP, 0.48 P/GP; $4,500,000 PCH), and C Artem Anisimov (Age 33; 0.22 G/GP, 0.45 P/GP; $4,550,000 PCH). On the older veteran side, there’s C Eric Staal (Age 36; 0.23 G/GP, 0.56 P/GP; $3,250,000 PCH), C Tyler Bozak (Age 35; 0.18 G/GP, 0.49 P/GP; $5,000,000 PCH), and C Travis Zajac (Age 36; 0.18 G/GP, 0.47 P/GP; $5,750,000 PCH). Otherwise, remaining options at defense seem quite poor, but goalie Devan Dubnyk (Age 35; .904 Sv%, 2.86 GAA; $4,333,333 PCH) could be a great pickup at the right price. And finally, while it seems unlikely, if Tuukka Rask (Age 34; .919 Sv%, 2.30 GAA; $7,000,000 PCH) can be plucked away from the Boston Bruins, he is by far the best remaining UFA on the board.