As many as 243 players have stupidly climbed their autograph on contracts worth $ 988,121,625 during the first five days of the NHL’s open season on free agents.
And yet, more than a few notable athletes remain jobless in the 2021-22 season.
General executives will have to negotiate harder, and unemployed players may have to lower their asking prices, but there are still gems – or at least worthy games and depth expansions – to be revealed from the 2021 UFA class after the July 28 frenzy.
We round up the rumors and assess the value of the free agents taking a more patient approach this summer (in some cases it is even of their choice) and are still available in August.
1. Tuukka Rask
Salary ceiling for 2020-21 affected: $ 7 million
The question is not whether Fast-a Vezina-winning, Cup-winning, Jennings-winning stud-deserves a rich, new short-term contract. The question is whether his body is up to one.
Rask openly considered 2021 retirement last season and drew criticism in some (unfriendly) circles for leaving the playoff bubble early to take care of a family affair.
He underwent surgery on a torn hip labrum in late July and will not be ready to play until January or February. If and / or when he tightens the pillows again, Rask only sees that it’s in Boston.
“I’m not going to play for anyone other than the Bruins. This is our home,” Rask said on June 11.
“At this point in my life and my career, I see no reason to go anywhere else, especially with the health I am looking at now and a recovery period of five or six months. Hopefully it seems like I’m getting along well and we can talk about contracts when the time is right. ”
Bruins’ curl is already in overtaking mode, with Jaroslav Halak (Vancouver) and Dan Vladar (Calgary) moving on.
Expect Rask’s situation to simmer on the back burner as the Bs roll into 2021-22 with a young, fresh tandem of Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman.
“We had to be prepared and give Tuukka all the time he needs to get well. He had just had surgery, spoke to him this morning, and was doing very well, ”said GM Don Sweeney after signing Ullmark in free agency.
“We have always left the door open so Tuukka could return. And I think that just allows Jeremy to continue to develop at a natural speed, but also allows him to be at the NHL level.
“When you try to be a competitive team, you have to have depth. We felt like the last two playoffs and we fell short. Now we are trying to ensure that we have the most competitive team we can and identify if we have any needs in the future that we may also need some changes. ”
Position: Right / left wing
Salary ceiling for 2020-21 affected: $ 4.65 million
Rental image Palmieri’s two goals in 17 games in the regular season for the islanders overwhelmed, but he exploded in seven more in the post-season.
All reports indicate that Palmieri will remain on the island. The belief is that a long-term deal has already been agreed … but GM Lou Lamoriello has not announced anything. (Mike Hoffman, Blake Coleman, Jaden Schwartz, and Boone Jenner could serve as comparable.)
Lamoriello is also set to compensate key RFAs Anthony Beauvillier and Adam Pelech this summer, and he could also investigate a deal with Vladimir Tarasenko. Maybe he does not want agents to know how much cap space he has left.
With Jordan Eberle now a Kraken, New York needs some reliability on its wing.
Kyle Palmieri is staying on Long Island per @JamesNicholsNYI
The islands must hope he can still get back to his level after a down season. We are curious as to which agreement he will sign. pic.twitter.com/wXlXtkT1J8
– Andy & Rono (@HockeyStatsCZ) July 28, 2021
3. Tomas tatar
Position: Left wing / right wing
2018-19 salary cap affected: $ 5.3 million
Of all the UFAs still on the board, none produced more points per game. Match in 2021 than Tatar (0.60), who was the Montreal Canadiens’ leading goal scorer as late as 2019-20. A proven offensive weapon and power-play threat with positive underlying metrics (58.9 CF%), Tatar already has six 20-goal campaigns on its roster. So why was he quickly scratched by two teams in two Stanley Cup finals?
After losing Brandon Saad to the market, the Colorado Avalanche is a team that should consider adding a scoring blow to its second line. Montreal never gave the Tatar an extension offer. The Seattle Kraken reportedly kicked tires here.
Tatar is thought to look for expression. In the worst case, he may have to settle for a one-year commitment to self-agreement.
2021 SUMMER GOALS: The FA market opens tomorrow. And Tomas Tatar will be one of the best players there. It’s unbelievable to us that there are more rumors about Hoffman than Tatar, despite how much Hoffman is a worse player. We feel that Tatar’s next contract will be stolen. pic.twitter.com/HHfvGDAqbt
– Andy & Rono (@HockeyStatsCZ) July 27, 2021
4. Ryan Murray
Salary ceiling for 2020-21 affected: $ 4.6 million
A tainted injury story seems to be the only barrier between Murray and his signing of a job offer. The left-shot defender is an excellent skater with strong playful metrics who could improve the bottom half of many D-corps — when he was healthy.
The second overall draft pick in 2012 was groomed 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 may have to settle for a modest pay cut.
Salary ceiling for 2020-21 affected: $ 3.35 million
The focal point of the New York Islanders’ crash-and-bang identity line drew a healthy interest from the competition, with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Seattle Kraken, Buffalo Sabers and San Jose Sharks all reportedly examining a signature.
As a career-long islander, Cizikas has apparently shaken hands on a multi-year deal to stay on the islander. Like Palmieri, we are still awaiting an announcement.
There is also speculation that Lamoriello will suddenly sign UFA Zach Parise, whose price should be more modest.
6. Jason demers
Salary ceiling for 2020-21 affected: $ 4.5 million
Right-wing defenders were pushed quickly and furiously up on July 28, but this former Coyotes blueliner and a stable veteran from home runs is still available.
Demers recorded only four assists in 2021, but he still logs more than 17 minutes a night and drives games north despite starting most of his shifts in the D-zone.
It’s unlikely there’s another $ 4.5 million payday, but some team will scoop him up.
Thanks to all the Coyotes fans, my teammates, training staff, I will never forget the years I spent in the desert #hyl #enjoy all excited to see what comes next in my career and in the upcoming season
– Jason Demers (@ jasondemers5) July 28, 2021
Position: Center / wing
Salary ceiling for 2020-21 affected: $ 4.5 million
A 20-goal, 50-point asset for Washington before concussions and a lot of sweater changes derailed his career, the versatile Swede is the type of game that should be worth a short-term game.
Fans in Boston, New Jersey and Pittsburgh are among those who suggest their GM take a flyer about this useful tool going forward.
Johansson scored only six goals and eight assists for Wild in 2021, but he was primarily used in defensive situations.
8. Nikita Gusev
Position: Right / left wing
Salary ceiling for 2020-21 affected: $ 1 million
A right shot capable of playing both wings, 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 ’21 campaign was split between New Jersey and Florida. His shooting percentage dropped and he failed to find his groove in both lineups.
Gusev is only 29. He should have some game left and he has gained some interest in the market. Does he give the NHL another shot, or does he return to the KHL?
9. Travis Kanin
Salary ceiling for 2020-21 affected: $ 5.75 million
Like so many other veteran islanders who are technically unlimited free agents, there is a quiet assumption that bottom-six center-back Zajac may have an agreement in principle to return to the Eastern Conference finalists.
At this point in his career, Zajac had to sign a one-year contract near the league minimum.
Despite seeing his 1,000. games slip in the rearview mirror, the durable Zajac can still play.
He will kill penalties, chip a little offensively (20 points in 46 games in 2021) and remain an excellent faceoff active with a career-high 53.8 percent.
10. Sami Vatanen
Salary ceiling for 2020-21 affected: $ 2 million
My how the Vatican’s population has declined since his days as an emerging Anaheim Duck. The right shot D-man still has an offensive upward and could thrive in the third pairing minutes.
Jumping from Anaheim to New Jersey to Carolina to New Jersey to Dallas over the last four seasons, there is still faith that if Vatan finds the right fit, he can revive his career and celebrate his 500th game of the upcoming season .
Righties are hard to come by.
There is not much left in the UFA market when it comes to centers. In defense, I think Sami Vatanen would be an interesting player to include in an advertisement, like a bottom pair who shot defender.
– HabsLinks (@HabsLinks) July 29, 2021
Several 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 via the excellent CapFriendly.com.