A whopping 243 players have scribbled their autographs on contracts worth a silly $ 988,121,625 during the first five days of the NHL open season on free agents.
And yet more than a few notable athletes remain unemployed during the 2021-22 season.
General managers will need to bargain harder, and unemployed players may need to lower their selling prices, but there are still gems, or at least worthy bets and depth additions, to be unearthed from the UFA class of 2021 after the frenzy on 28 February. July.
We collect the rumors and assess the value of free agents who are taking a more patient approach this summer (in some cases, that’s even by choice) and still available in August.
1. Tuukka Rask
Age: 3. 4
2020-21 salary cap hit: $ 7 million
The question is not whether Rask, a Vezina-winning, Cup-winning and Jennings-winning stallion, deserves a rich new short-term contract. The question is whether your body is ready for one.
Rask openly reflected on the 2021 retirement last season and drew criticism in some (unkind) circles for exiting the playoff bubble early to attend to a family matter.
He underwent surgery on a torn hip labrum in late July and won’t be ready to play until January or February. If and / or when he re-fastens the pads, Rask only sees that he is in Boston.
“I’m not going to play for anyone but the Bruins. This is our home,” Rask said on June 11.
“At this point in my life and career, I don’t see any reason to go anywhere else, especially with the health I’m seeing now and a recovery time of five or six months. Hopefully I recover well and we can talk about contracts when the time is right. “
The Bruins fold is already in review mode, with Jaroslav Halak (Vancouver) and Dan Vladar (Calgary) advancing.
Expect Rask’s situation to simmer into the background, as the B’s move into 2021-22 with a fresh, young tandem of Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman.
“We needed to be prepared and allow Tuukka all the time he needs to recover. He just had surgery, I talked to him this morning and he’s doing great, ”general manager Don Sweeney said after signing Ullmark in free agency.
“We have always left the door open for Tuukka to return. And I think it just allows Jeremy to keep progressing at a natural rate, but it also gives him a chance to be on the NHL level.
“When you try to be a competitive team, you have to have depth. We feel like the last two playoffs, and we fell short. Now we are trying to make sure we have the most competitive team that we can, and to identify if we have any needs in the future, we may have to make some changes as well. “
2. Kyle Palmieri
Position: To the right, to the left
2020-21 salary cap hit: $ 4.65 million
The Rental Piece Palmieri’s two goals in 17 regular-season games for the Islanders disappointed, but he exploded for seven more in the postseason.
All reports suggest that Palmieri will stay on the island. The belief is that a long-term agreement has already been reached … but general manager Lou Lamoriello has not announced anything. (Mike Hoffman, Blake Coleman, Jaden Schwartz, and Boone Jenner could serve as comparables.)
Lamoriello must also make up for key RFAs Anthony Beauvillier and Adam Pelech this summer, and may also be exploring a trade with Vladimir Tarasenko. Maybe you don’t want the agents to know how much cap space you have left.
With Jordan Eberle now a Kraken, New York needs some reliability in its wing.
Kyle Palmieri stays on Long Island for @JamesNicholsNYI
Isles has to hope he can still get back to his level after an offseason. We are curious to know which agreement you are going to sign. pic.twitter.com/wXlXtkT1J8
– Andy and Rono (@HockeyStatsCZ) July 28, 2021
3. Tomas Tatar
Position: Left wing / right wing
2018-19 salary cap hit: $ 5.3 million
Of all the UFAs still on the board, none produced more points per game in 2021 than Tatar (0.60), who was the Montreal Canadiens’ top scorer in 2019-20. A proven offensive weapon and power play threat with positive underlying metrics (58.9% from CF), Tatar already has six 20-goal campaigns on his resume. So why was he healthy streaked by two teams in two Stanley Cup finals?
After losing Brandon Saad to the market, the Colorado Avalanche are a team that should consider adding a scoring hit to their second row. Montreal never made Tatar an extension offer. The Seattle Kraken reportedly kicked tires here.
Tartar is believed to seek a term. In the worst case, you may have to settle for a one-year contract that you bet on yourself.
SUMMER GOALS 2021: The FA market opens tomorrow. And Tomas Tatar will be one of the best players there. It’s amazing to us that there are more rumors about Hoffman than there are about Tatar, despite how worse Hoffman is as a player. We think Tatar’s next contract will be a robbery. pic.twitter.com/HHfvGDAqbt
– Andy and Rono (@HockeyStatsCZ) July 27, 2021
4. Ryan Murray
2020-21 salary cap hit: $ 4.6 million
A spotty injury history appears to be the only barrier between Murray and his firm on a job offer. The left-throwing defender is an excellent skater with strong playing driving metrics who could improve the lower half of many D’s bodies, when healthy.
The second overall pick in the 2012 draft was prepared in Columbus before recording 14 assists in 48 games for the Devils last season.
The Minnesota Wild and Edmonton Oilers are two teams that should take a look, but Murray might have to settle for a modest pay cut.
5. Casey Cizikas
2020-21 salary cap hit: $ 3.35 million
The pivot of the New York Islanders’ shock and blast identity line attracted a great deal of interest from the competition, with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Seattle Kraken, Buffalo Sabers and the San Jose Sharks all reportedly scouting for a signature.
A lifelong islander, Cizikas has apparently shaken hands on a multi-year contract to stay with the Islander. Like Palmieri, we are still waiting for an announcement.
It is also speculated that Lamoriello will suddenly sign the UFA Zach Parise, the price of which should be more modest.
6. Jason Demers
2020-21 salary cap hit: $ 4.5 million
Right-footed defenders were caught fast and furious on July 28, but this former Coyotes blue line player and staunch veteran staying at home is still available.
Demers only logged four assists in 2021, but he still logs over 17 minutes a night and drives north despite starting most of his shifts in zone D.
Another $ 4.5 million payday is unlikely, but some team will pick it up.
Thanks to all the Coyotes fans, my teammates, the coaching staff, I will never forget the years I spent in the desert. #clamorous #enjoyedeverymin excited to see what’s next in my career and this upcoming season
– jason demers (@ jasondemers5) July 28, 2021
7. Marcus Johansson
Position: Center / Wing
2020-21 salary cap hit: $ 4.5 million
A 20-goal, 50-point asset for Washington before concussions and a string of sweater changes derailed his career, the versatile Swede is the kind of gamble that should pay off in the short term.
Fans in Boston, New Jersey, and Pittsburgh are among those who suggest that their GM take a flyer on this helpful utility striker.
Johansson scored just six goals and eight assists for the Wild in 2021, but was used primarily in defensive situations.
8. Nikita Gusev
Position: To the right, to the left
2020-21 salary cap hit: $ 1 million
A forehand capable of playing on either wing, Gusev made some noise in 2019-20 when he finally left the KHL, scoring 13 goals and 44 points in 66 games for a poor Devils squad.
The Russian campaign of 21 was divided between New Jersey and Florida. His shooting percentage dropped and he couldn’t find his rhythm in either lineup.
Gusev is only 29 years old. You should have some play and you have gained some interest in the market. Does he give the NHL another chance or return to the KHL?
9. Travis Zajac
2020-21 salary cap hit: $ 5.75 million
Like many other veteran islanders who are technically unrestricted free agents, there is a silent assumption that the center of the bottom six, Zajac, may have a deal in principle to return to the Eastern Conference finalists.
At this stage in his career, Zajac should sign a one-year deal near the league minimum.
Despite seeing his 1,000th game in the rearview mirror, the durable Zajac can still play.
He’ll kill penalties, bring in a bit of offense (20 points in 46 games in 2021) and he’s still an excellent head-to-head asset, with a 53.8 percent career hit rate on point.
10. Sami Vatanen
2020-21 salary cap hit: $ 2 million
Wow, how Vatanen’s stock has fallen since his days as an emerging Anaheim duck. The D-man with the right shot still has some offensive advantage and could thrive in the third pair minutes.
Bouncing from Anaheim to New Jersey to Carolina to New Jersey to Dallas for the past four seasons, there is still a belief that if Vatanen finds the right fit, he could resurrect his career and celebrate his 500th game next season.
Right-handers are hard to come by.
There isn’t much left in the UFA market when it comes to hubs. On defense, I think Sami Vatanen would be an interesting player to take a midfielder as a lower-pair right-footed defender.
– HabsLinks (@HabsLinks) July 29, 2021
Most notable UFAs still on the market: Eric Staal, Zach Parise, Alex Galchenyuk, Bobby Ryan, Tyler Bozak, Jordie Benn, Joe Thornton, Devan Dubnyk, Jake Virtanen, James Neal, Zdeno Chara, Erik Gudbranson, Erik Gustafsson, Valtteri Filppula, Christina Djoos, Derick Brassard, Dominik Kahun , Jimmy Vesey, Ryan Donato, Brian Boyle, Henrik Lundqvist, Alex Chiasson, Tyler Ennis, Tobias Rieder, Artem Anisimov, Mark Jankowski, Colton Sceviour, Lucas Wallmark, Marcus Hogberg, Curtis McElhinney, Riley Sheahan, Ben Hutton
All salary information through the excellent CapFriendly.com.