We are still in the midst of the regular season, but it is never too early to start talking about free agency frenzy! This summer, a diverse set of free agents will hit the open market, some for the first time and others will be free agents once again. Top-ranked forwards, defencemen and goalies will all be free to sign starting July 1st and so far one thing is clear: money will be flowing. Free agency is when the most lucrative contracts get thrown around at players and this year it will be no different.
With the trade deadline looming, the plans that teams have regarding their free agents become clear. Some pending unrestricted free agents will be shipped out of town, while others will stay. Add in the upcoming expansion draft and all of a sudden this free agent market is becoming more complex. The addition of the Vegas Golden Knights makes teams with these pending free agents think twice about how they want to deal with them. There is a fair chance that some of the FAs could also be left unprotected and selected by Vegas in the expansion draft. Whatever happens, it is guaranteed to be fun for the fans.
Here are 8 upcoming free agents changing teams, and 7 staying put.
15. Changing Teams: Jarome Iginla
With the Colorado Avalanche just being completely awful this year, there is no reason why Iginla should want to resign with them. Iginla will turn 40 on July 1st, so there is some reason to believe that he may hang up the skates after this year. Or, like the true veteran and NHL great that he is, maybe he will want to play just one more season. Iggy has a mere 7 goals and 7 assists this season in 49 games, obviously not the 50-goal scorer he once was with Calgary. Whatever path Iginla chooses to trod down, whether retirement or playing elsewhere, that path does not lead to Denver.
Our prediction: Jarome Iginla signs with the Edmonton Oilers.
14. Staying Put: Mike Fisher
You don’t get named the captain just to walk out of town the next offseason. Mike Fisher, who was named the 6th captain in Predators history following the Shea Weber trade earlier that offseason, will turn 37 in June, and, despite his age, is already outplaying himself from last season. In 49 games, he already has more points and assists than he had in 2015-2016 in 70 games. With the Predators currently sitting in a playoff spot, as well with a core that is already signed in Nashville for the next few years, there is no reason why the Preds should tear away their captain from the team.
13. Changing Teams: Brian Elliott
The Flames just can’t catch a break. After a tumultuous goaltender performance in the 2015-2016 season, it seemed like they finally got their guy with the acquisition of Brian Elliott at the 2016 Draft from the Blues. The Elliott they have is not the same goaltender who they anticipated they would have between the pipes this year. He has a .895 save percentage, on pace for the worst save percentage in his NHL career. Elliott has since been relegated to a platoon with Chad Johnson, and Elliott is a guy who always wants to get out and play every day. When free agency rolls around, Brian Elliott is going to take a one-way flight out of Calgary.
Our prediction: Brian Elliott signs with the Philadelphia Flyers.
12. Staying Put: Kris Russell
After being one of the hot commodities at last year’s trade deadline, defender Kris Russell had trouble finding a team to sign him this offseason. Eventually, he and the Oilers settled on a one-year deal. He hasn’t been an offensive contributor this season, with only 4 assists, but his presence can still be noticed on the defensive end. As well, the Oilers defence has consistently been one of their weaker positions. It just makes sense for Russell and the Oilers to stay together. He wouldn’t command a lot of money, and the Oilers would have sufficient cap space to keep the defender on the roster.
11. Changing Teams: Ryan Miller
The days of Ryan Miller being one of the elite goalies in the NHL are over, and this upcoming offseason so is his 3 year, $18 million dollar deal with the Canucks. Miller’s play has declined since his glory days with the Sabres, but a team still could call on him to be their goalie. With it seeming like the Canucks are trying to get younger, Miller doesn’t seem to fit into the equation. A team looking for an experienced veteran of the game, perhaps to platoon would be one that Miller could sign with. The Vegas Golden Knights would be a logical suitor, should they not feel satisfied with the goalies available in the expansion draft.
Our prediction: Ryan Miller signs with the Vegas Golden Knights.