www.thesportster.com

NHL Free Agency 2018: Where The Top 5 Players From Every Position Will Sign

The one time that every hockey fan dreads is the offseason. It's not just because hockey isn't being watched on our televisions, but the landscape of our favorite teams can shift. Players we have grown to love leave and players that we never thought would wear our jersey would wind up wearing it.

No matter where we are or what we're doing, as hockey fans, we are glued to our news feeds on July 1st each year. In Canada, it may be a holiday, but those who take a liking to the country's favorite pastime, are gritting their teeth, waiting to see where the free agents of the NHL will sign.

Some may re-sign with the team they played with the previous season, but there are always moves that shock us. Most of those shocking moves come from unrestricted free agents, as restricted free agents mostly re-sign with the same team. Unrestricted free agents have been in the league for at least five years and have the experience of the behind the scenes politics to know what they want for themselves, including where they want to play.

Having the choice to look over all offers that are coming towards you is a great advantage. While there are some big names on the restricted free agent list, this list will display where the top five unrestricted free agents playing each position will sign for next season. These are predictions only. More or less, this is where they would seem to fit best for the 2018-19 NHL season.

25 Center - Joe Thornton

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Thornton has had a great career so far. Since being drafted first overall by Boston in 1997, he has achieved many great accolades throughout the last 20 years. There is one thing that he still has to sign off his bucket list: be a Stanley Cup champion.

After seven and a half seasons, minus the 2004-05 lockout, as a Boston Bruin, Thornton has enjoyed time in San Jose as a Shark. The move in 2005 brought him both the Hart and Art Ross trophies. While their were many high points during his tenure, there was a few low points as well.

On August 20, 2014, Thornton was stripped of his captaincy that he had worn for the previous four seasons. He was still viewed as a leader in the locker room, but to have the "C" stripped while still playing for the team, it had to sting.

Destination: Tampa Bay Lightning

Finishing the 2017-18 season as an alternate captain, Thornton had helped the Sharks make it to the playoffs, where they are currently enjoying the second round. The team has been in this spot before. In fact, Thornton has seen them make it to the finals twice in the last six years, but has never hoisted that Cup above his head.

With the Cup being the only thing left on his bucket list as a hockey player, it doesn't seem the best option to re-sign with the Sharks. At this moment it does, anyway.

24 Left Wing - Rick Nash

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

A household name throughout the NHL, Rick Nash just wrapped up the last year of his contract. Just as the trade deadline of 2018 was nearing, Nash's name was revealed in a trade from the New York Rangers to the Boston Bruins, where he is currently playing in the second round of the playoffs.

Nash has felt the thrill of being a captain while playing for the Columbus Blue Jackets. He is not just a great leader on the ice, but has also received the NHL's Foundation Player award in 2009, by showing the same level of commitment to the community of Columbus as he does on the ice.

Destination: Boston Bruins

He may have only won one award for his play on the ice, the Rocket in 2004, Nash's production on the ice has been consistent. His 50-point season may have been four years ago, but he remains a force not be reckoned with once he laces up his skates. After 15 years, he is still one of the top free agents for the dynamic he brings to the team he plays for.

Putting Columbus on the map as a team that can rise to the top of the Western Conference, and now helping re-ignite Boston's fire, Nash is looking for a team that will see his play as helpful and it is leading. Boston chose Nash at the trade deadline back in March for a reason, and it seems to be a good fit for him.

23 Right Wing - Matt Read

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Read has seen a slight setback as of late, but is hoping to rejuvenate his hockey career. After been sent down to the AHL, Read had to prove that when he was finally called back up to the Flyers, he would do everything he could to prove that he deserved a permanent spot on the main roster.

It wasn't an easy road. When he came to the NHL as a free agent just before the 2011-12 season, Read's speed is what captivated the coaches. Just after beginning his four-year, $14.5 million contract extension in 2014-15, Read suffered a high ankle sprain. He wouldn't blame the injury, but the first half of that season saw his speed falter and his production on the scoreboard less than what it had averaged out in previous years.

Destination: Florida Panthers

The injury is one that, to this day, he has not truly recovered from. He never sat out for a game in the first 43 games of the 2014-15 season, and in hindsight, probably regrets that. Read has been fighting to keep his hockey career alive ever since. He spent the majority of the past season in the AHL due to the lack of production and other players performing better.

He was called up in March, but he managed only one goal for the remainder of the season. He still has the skill, heart and passion to continue playing on an NHL roster, even if it's as a bottom-six forward.

22 Defense - Mike Green

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Green has one of the hardest slapshots in the NHL, and has a decision to make come July that could once again change the dynamic, just like it did when he signed with Detroit after spending 10 seasons with Washington.

Green holds the records for the longest goal-scoring streak by any defenseman in the NHL, with eight games in 2008-09. Reaching a career-high of 76 points in 2009-10, he had minor setback for the next three seasons due to various injuries. However, he managed to consistently tallied at least 30 points every season since 2013-14.

Destination: Dallas Stars

The Red Wings may have failed to make the playoffs the last two seasons, but that was not solely on Green's shoulders. His shot is something that goalies worry about and his teamwork and leadership is something that young players can learn and grow from.

At 32 years old, Green still has a lot left in the tank. We've seen that it's not the same way it was before he battled back-to-back injuries a few years back. That doesn't mean that he won't be a force on the ice and a great team player, able to create chemistry with anyone he is one the ice with.

Whichever team Green decides to sign with come July, they will be gaining not only a player with a great shot, but one who help show the younger talent the many ways they can extend their game, both on and off the ice.

21 Goaltender - Kari Lehtonen

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Kari Lehtonen has spent the last years of his contract with the Dallas Stars. Of course, prior to the beginning of the 2015-16 season, he had to split his time between the pipes with fellow Finnish goalie Antti Niemi, while getting relegated to more of a backup role once Ben Bishop was acquired.

Lehtenon established himself early on in his career as a goalie while playing with the team that drafted him 2nd overall in 2002, the Atlanta Thrashers. He holds many records for a netminder in for the franchise, including playing in net for the teams first ever playoff game. Eyes were on Lehtonen to see where his career would go, excited to see the heights he could reach.

Destination: Edmonton Oilers

Since playing with Dallas since being traded to the club in February of 2010, Lehtonen has brought some of his best moments with him. We had seen him hindered with injuries throughout his time in Atlanta, and his full potential has been put on display since bouncing back in the Big D.

Achieving his 300th career win on December 13, 2017, Lehtonen may have only made it to the playoffs twice since joining the Stars, but his talent cannot be overlooked. Though it may not be as a starting goalie, he can provide teams with a solid backup performance.

20 Center - Paul Stastny

James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

Having a great family history in the NHL, Paul Stastny has had a great career, tallying at least 40 points every season, aside from when injured in 2008-09 or the shortened season in 2012-13. He is a great playmaker who learned his craft from his father, Hockey Hall of Famer, Peter.

Stastny has shown that his drive and speed is something that sets him apart from the others not only on his team, but from many others still playing in the NHL at his age of 32. Mentored by Joe Sakic, who was mentored by Stastny's father, on the team that, before the franchise relocated, that his family members played for, gave him that drive that he still carries with him today.

Destination: Detroit Red Wings

Even at his age, who some say is when most players taper off, there is something in him that the Winnipeg Jets saw as something to help them capture the Stanley Cup for the first time since their resurgence in 2011. That, along with his consistent numbers, is something that teams will be lining up to offering him contracts this July. His now veteran status and strong play-making ability can give many teams the boost they have been searching for.

19 Left Wing - Evander Kane

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Evander Kane is on this list, but it seems as though he has found the team that fits hits style the best already. When we watch him play, we could see the grit and fast pace that he graces the ice with. Having him on the ice with Dustin Byfuglien while playing with Atlanta and then Winnipeg truly showed the power and the grit that Kane was capable of.

After a stint with the Buffalo Sabres, that showed him being benched nearing the 2018 trade deadline due to the lackluster performance, the San Jose Sharks traded for him. Showing that he still had a lot to offer, Kane gave the Sharks everything he had, and finished the last 17 games of the season with nine goals and 14 points.

Destination: St. Louis Blues

In the first round of the 2018 playoffs, Kane's move to the Sharks seemed to be just what his career needed to fuel the drive in him once again. However, the Sharks have some big names with big contracts, and Kane's $6 million salary may not cut it for the cap in San Jose.

Kane needs to stay in the West, as his style of play is more fitted to the pace that teams in the conference seem to uphold.

18 Right Wing - Joel Ward

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

It's hard to say where Joel Ward will end up next season. If this past season is anything to go by, it's not much due an injury that had Ward sitting out for 22 games. Achieving only 12 points in the 52 games he played, you would have to look back at what he brought to the game in previous years and believe that he can still perform at that level today.

Ward has had many great moments in his career. Those include scoring the goal in game 7 of the first round of the 2012 playoffs, eliminating the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Boston Bruins. His strong scoring ability continued to grow as he was selected to represent his home country of Canada for the 2014 World Championships. Ward was chosen to be on the team's fourth line, but ended up being on the team's leading scorers by the tournament's end.

Destination: Ottawa Senators

With a smaller contract than a lot of big name players, Ward can easily find himself, once again, on a top Cup contending team. An annual salary of $3.275 million, there isn't much worry about salary cap for most teams who would look at Ward when his contract expires in July and he is able to sign wherever he feels he will fit in well.

17 Defense - Tobias Enstrom

Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Tobias Enstrom has been plagued with injuries that last few seasons. Though most of the injuries were minor without requiring surgery, Enstrom has not played a full season since 2013-14. That being said, he has made his mark as a solid part of the blue line in Winnipeg.

Never straying from the franchise since being drafted in the 8th round by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2003, he made the move with the team when they relocated to Winnipeg and has enjoyed the last seven seasons with the club. At 33 years of age, it may be time for him to see where his skill can take him on a different team. He loves it in Winnipeg, proud that he wasn't part of the expansion draft this past June, but all good things come to an end at some point.

Destination: Edmonton Oilers

It's hard to say, with the Jets still being in the playoffs at the moment, whether Enstrom will plead his case to play in Winnipeg next season or not. There are other teams that could use his help on the blue line and give the team's back end more depth. Playing in only 43 games this season and scoring one goal and six points, the teams will have to look past the injuries.

16 Jaroslav Halak

Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

This season was one that saw Jaroslav Halak play between the pipes the most times since his first season with the New York Islanders. The one-time Jennings Award winner, Halak has had his struggles over the years in his career. If there was ever a season to end a contract on, aiming to impress other teams to sign him, this one was it.

Playing in 54 games with a record of 20-26-6, it could've been worse. Drafted in the ninth round of the 2003 Entry Draft by Montreal, many fans wonder why he ever left the Habs. Montreal put their faith in the younger Carey Price, and Halak was traded to St. Louis, where he had the best season of his career.

Destination: Carolina Hurricanes

With every team he has played for in the NHL, Halak was made his mark either with a play that no one will ever forget or in the record books of the respective franchises. Currently holding two records in the history of the New York Islanders, there is something to be said about what this netminder can bring to any team, either as a starter or backup.

An average save percentage over his 11-year career so far in the NHL of .916, any team would be happy to have this Swede between the pipes. The factor that may lead to issues is his current salary of $5 million.

15 Center - Tomas Plekanec

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Tomas Plekanec was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs just before the trade deadline this past season. It was a trade that looked to help Plekanec finally find himself on a team contending for the Stanely Cup. Unfortunately, he found himself and the Leafs eliminated by the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the first round.

Plekanec is two games away from playing in his 1,000th NHL game. Though his veteran status may help the Leafs next season, there are other team this 14-season veteran could help out with his experience, knowledge and ability to have chemistry with almost any pair of wingers the coaches line him up with.

Destination: Vancouver Canucks

There is one thing that Plekanec still needs to cross off his bucket list in his hockey playing career, and that is win the Stanley Cup. It was unattainable with Toronto this season, but he could help the bottom six of any team shape and become a contending team next season.

Known around the league for the turtle neck that he wears underneath his jersey. There is no doubt that Plekanec can find his place on a great team for the upcoming season. It doesn't if it's another team on the East or he decides to try out the Western conference.

14 Left Wing - James Neal

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

James Neal is coming off a record-breaking season, the inaugural season for the Las Vegas Golden Knights. There was an aura surrounding the team to see how they would fare in their first year. With the help of this Whitby, Ontario native winger, the Knights are in the second round of the playoffs.

Neal's 44 points that he racked up in the 71 games he played this season, six of those points being game winning goals, are just a few of the reasons that many eyes will be on him when July 1st comes along. Neal has had success on many each team that he has played for throughout his NHL career. He has helped each team he has been on make it to the playoffs, aside from his first three seasons with the Dallas Stars.

Destination: Vegas Golden Knights

Being a part of the first ever roster for the Golden Knights is something special, and something that Neal took advantage of it, putting everything he had in every shift. If there was ever a place where he could leave his mark on the NHL and make history doing it, it's Vegas.

After the season he has had, anyone can easily see the Golden Knights re-signing Neal for at least next season, if not to a multi-year deal.

13 Right Wing - Lee Stempniak

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Lee Stempniak has made his way around the NHL throughout his career. This season, he finished with three goals and nine points in the 39 games he played for the Carolina Hurricanes.

Since being drafted by the St. Louis Blues in 2003, Stempniak has been a member of 10 NHL clubs. At 35 years of age, he has the experience of 900 NHL games and almost 30 playoff games in the last 12 years. Being the new guy on a roster is something that Stempniak is no stranger to, especially when it comes to moving teams during the season.

Destination: Florida Panthers

Looking into the plays that he has made for the Hurricanes this past season and wondering where he could fit for the 2018-19 season, there is a number of teams that he would be able to help on the fourth line. With a contract that has an annual salary of $2.5 million, Stempniak will have no trouble finding a team for him to play for next year without them having to worry about their salary cap.

The team that Stempniak chooses will be gaining a veteran in his own right as well as someone to help add depth to their fourth line, and possibly their second power play unit.

12 Defense - John Carlson

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off the best season of his career, John Carlson has many eyes on him from teams that are looking at add depth to their defense next season. Carlson's contract with the Capitals is set to expire on July 1st and he has made his case with his play on the ice as one of the best defenseman on the free agency.

Playing with the Capitals for his entire NHL career, it may be time for the 28-year-old to move on to a different NHL club. With his career-high of 68 points, Carlson has a lot left in his arsenal that can help defend the blue line for any team looking to give him an offer.

Though it may be hard for him to leave an organization that has been his home for the last eight seasons, he has yet to achieve the one thing every NHL player dreams of, even though he has seen playoff action every year except 2014 since debuting with in Washington.

Leaving America's capital may be the best option for the defenseman, but with this year's playoffs still going on and the Caps still in the second round against the Penguins, it's hard to say where he will end up.

Destination: Edmonton Oilers

11 Goaltender - Cam Ward

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Cam Ward has been the backbone of the Carolina Hurricanes since signing with the league in 2004, and with his contract expiring on July 1st, many eyes will be looking for his name in the free agency tracker.

With a Stanley Cup and a Conn Smythe trophy to his name, Ward has proven himself in both the regular season and the playoffs. It is a wonder if the Canes will want to sign him again, or go with a younger goalie to take his place. Playing in Carolina for the last 14 seasons, it can easily be leaning more towards signing a younger goalie.

Destination: Buffalo Sabres

Ward has been a staple between the pipes and still has the manpower to be a solid backup goaltender for another team, especially with the Hurricanes still seeing some of his playoff MVP moves to this day. Moving on from Carolina just may be the best option for him, as fans would want to see him at the forefront of the goaltending picture.

A salary of $3.1 million is a solid pay for someone who has been in the league for 14 years and still showing signs of how he played in his prime. Wherever Ward ends up next season, he will be continuing to play the game he loves, regardless of the number of times he starts.

10 Center - John Tavares

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Probably the biggest name on the free agency this summer, John Tavares is looking for a multi-year deal for next season.

Coming off a career-high 84-point season, Tavares has many eyes on him as his contract expires on July 1st. There's no doubt he will be the biggest signing of the off season. Holding the captaincy for the New York Islanders, a team he has been signed to since being draft first overall in 2009, for the last four seasons, he is a great leader both on and off the ice. Tavares always puts the team first, thinking about the best plays for his team, while keeping his solo scoring record on the back-burner, as any true captain should.

Destination: Dallas Stars

If he doesn't sign with the Islanders again in July, it will be weird to see him play in the NHL wearing a different jersey. However, with trade rumors swirling the past few years about him moving to a new club, it wouldn't be a surprise.

At the young age of only 27 years old, there is no doubt that Tavares will be centering one of the top two lines regardless of what team he's playing for. Seeing how he would fare on a Western Conference team would be interesting, simply because the Islanders don't see the West too often in the regular season. His style of play would be suitable in any team, but jumping over to help make a team a contender, such as Dallas, would a big step not only for Tavares, but the team as well.

9 Left Wing - David Perron

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

David Perron, coming off of the best season in his career, is wrapping up his current contract on July 1st. He may be playing in the second round of the playoff with the Knights right now, but will he play for the new team again next year? It seems pretty likely.

Finishing the season with 16 goals and 66 points, Perron seemed to gel well with the Knights, playing on the second line with James Neal and Erik Haula. The line seemed to be unstoppable and welcomed all challengers. In the middle of it, Perron had the best season of his career, helping the Knights set many record for an expansion team's inaugural season.

Destination: Vegas Golden Knights

We've seen Perron play well on other teams, such as St. Louis, who drafted him 26th overall in 2007, and Edmonton. With this past season, it showed us that all Perron needed to bring his career to the best it has ever been is the linemates that pushed him to be the best he could be and the thrill of knowing he was making history on a new team.

After watching how well he has played, and continues to play during the playoffs this year, its doesn't seem as though the Knights should let go of this one.

8 Right Wing - Jannik Hansen

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Though he had a rough start to the season, Jannik Hansen can look at this summer as a turning point. The first Dannish-born hockey player to play and register a point in the NHL is wrapping up his contract with the San Jose Sharks.

Hansen found himself being scratched from six straight games in November, and found it frustrating. He recalled it being like coming back from an injury, there was nothing he could do. After spending 10 years with the Canucks organization, he wasn't expecting to only finish the season appearing in only 46 games, recording only 14 points.

The Dane was hoping that the transition to a new team would've gone over more smoothly. Hopefully, come July 1st he'll find himself on a team that gives him a welcoming that is a little more to his liking.

Destination: Colorado Avalanche

As we've seen over the years, it is hard for teams that have a solid core of players to bring in new players and have them blend in right away. The Sharks have a solid core that covers every position on their team, and Hansen found himself on the outside looking in for nearly half of the season, his first full year with the club.

Here's to next season being a better one for you, Hansen.

7 Defense - Jack Johnson

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The free agency can't come fast enough for this guy. Jack Johnson asked the Columbus Blue Jackets for a trade before the trade deadline this season. As one never came, Johnson is relying on the free agency to play on a different team next season.

Johnson doesn't hide anything when it comes to why he asked for his trade from Columbus. His ice time this season was the lowest in his career and possession metrics sat a well below 50 per cent. Jackson has said that the trade request has nothing to do with current coach John Tortorella, his teammates or the city of Columbus. He just wants a team that will help elevate his game.

Destination: Edmonton Oilers

Racking up only 11 points in 77 games, Johnson's time in Columbus is definitely up. His play with the team has dwindled over the years, with this season being his worst numbers since his first two full seasons with the Kings.

Being named an alternate captain, there is some fire still in Johnson and whichever team that inks him a rich, multi-year deal, will be getting a defenseman that will help bring life to the blue line. This 31-year-old has a lot more to prove and is hoping to find a team to let him to just that.

6 Goaltender - Jonathan Bernier

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Jonathan Bernier has had a roller coaster of a career full of injuries, and this season wasn't any diferent. Ever since leaving Los Angeles in 2013, every team that Bernier found himself playing on had originally had him playing as the backup. However, his play and great skill would see him quickly gaining the starter role. We saw that happen in Toronto and in Anaheim. This season in Colorado, he was a backup to Semyon Varlamov. Well, we weren't really sure who the starter was originally intended to be, but with Bernier suffering from separate injuries throughout the season, the position was up in the air.

Destination: Carolina Hurricanes

The way that Bernier showed himself as top-tier net-minder is something that teams will look at when free agency opens up. Teams who have been struggling on the back end will likely add Bernier to their list and send him an offer. Inking a multi-year deal that will give Bernier the room to help the team he's signed to grow and make their way through the season to the best of their ability as a whole.

With Cam Ward on his way out of Carolina, it would be a good time for the Canes to pick up Bernier, giving him the nod to start between the pipes for the club next season.

5 Center - Tyler Bozak

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Tyler Bozak is a huge reason for the resurgence of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the last few years. Undrafted, he signed an entry-level deal with the Leaf in 2009 and has stuck with the club ever since. As is tradition, his contract is set to expire on July 1st, making him an unrestricted free agent.

It's hard to believe that Bozak would play anywhere else other than Toronto, but the 32-year-old Canadian has only had three seasons where he scored less than 40 points. Two of those seasons were his first two with the club, where he split his time with the AHL's Marlies. Bozak's numbers continue to grow with consistency, and he would be a great asset to many different teams that may come to him with an offer.

Destination: Montreal Canadiens

Bozak, a mainstay in Toronto's top-six, can easily find himself in the same position on a different team, or even giving depth to the bottom-six. Regardless of where he is placed in the lineup, Bozak always seems to find the puck, making great plays on the fly. It may spark some clapbacks from Leafs fans, but Montreal would benefit from signing him in a big way.

He will be missed in Toronto, but it seems that it may be time for him to move on.

4 Left Wing - James van Riemsdyk

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

He could feel it as the season came to an end, James van Riemsdyk will likely not return to the Toronto Maple Leafs next season. It was something he saw coming, and he used it to drive him to have the best season he could. He finished with a career-high 36 goals in hopes to show other teams what he can bring to them next year.

After being drafted second overall in 2007, van Riemsdyk has continued to prove that he is worthy of being drafted that high with each season. Since the shortened season of 2012-13, he has never had a season where he finished with less than 50 points, aside from 2015-16 when he fractured his foot and only played 40 games that year.

Destination: Ottawa Senators

Known around the league as JVR, van Riemsdyk has the ability to continue to grow, and at only 28 years of age, he is looking for a team to help his skills reach new levels much like his years playing in Toronto did after being traded from Philly. It seems that his playing style expands to heights he had never previously seen before when he starts playing for a new team. Who that team will be? That's a tough question. There are many different ways that JVR can be used effectively in the lineup.

3 Right Wing - Michael Grabner

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Grabner's production on the ice seemed to cool off this season compared to what it has been in the past. Being traded to New Jersey before the trade deadline this season was done as a favor to Grabner's family by New York Rangers' GM Jeff Gorton, keeping them close to home.

The speed and versatility that Grabner can attain on the ice is something that many teams are looking for, and will look for once the free agency opens up on July 1st. Being the fourth player in NHL history to complete what is known as the Hudson River Triple, playing for the three teams that surround the Hudson River, the Rangers, Islanders, and Devils. For his family, he may want to stay in that area.

Destination: New York Rangers

A return to the Rangers may be in the cards for Grabner when the free agency opens up, as he had a 40-point season his first season with the club, playing 76 games. He was on pace to finish better this season, had he not been traded, as he finished his time with the Rangers this season with 31 points in 59 games. He played the remaining 21 games of the season with the Devils, but only recorded two goals and three assists for a total of five points. Imagine the numbers he could've racked up in those 21 games if he stayed on Broadway.

2 Defense - Jason Garrison

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Playing in only eight NHL games this season, Jason Garrison is looking to re-ignite his NHL career with a new team next season.

Coming to the NHL undrafted to the Florida Panthers in 2008, he has played alongside great defensemen. In fact, in his fourth season with the Panthers, he broke the franchise record for most goals scored by a defensemen in a season, scoring 16 goals in 2011-12. He helped the Panthers make their first playoff appearance since 2000 that season as well.

Destination: New York Islanders

Garrison played with his hometown team in Vancouver, as well as a stint in Tampa Bay before being selected by Vegas in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft. By the end of the season's first month, he was placed on waivers and and sent down to the AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves, where he spent the rest of the season.

The skill that Garrison brings to the blue line can still be used in the NHL, and next season he is hoping to do just that. The Knights were stacked with talent and left no space for Garrison, but there is space for him on other teams throughout the league.

1 Goaltender: Eddie Lack

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It may seem like his best days are behind him, but Eddie Lack is still hoping for a resurgence in his NHL career, beginning next season.

Currently under contract with the New Jersey Devils, though he spent most of his time with the AHL affiliate, Lack was able to play a total of eight NHL games this season between the Calgary Flames and the Devils.

A strong candidate for a backup that doesn't need to see much play time unless desperately needed, Lack is hoping that a team will see the fire that is still inside him and allow him to get more than 10 games a season in. He hasn't played more than 10 games a seasons since 2016-17 while playing for the Carolina Hurricanes and he played 20 games.

Destination: Calgary Flames

Lack may not be at the top of the list for goaltenders when the free agency opens up on July 1st, but he is still able to stand between the pipes and help lead a team to victory. Last year, he proved it when he lead the Swedish team in the World Cup of Hockey to finish first in the tournament and gain the goal medal.

Where will he end up next season? It's hard to say, but with the number of teams that need help in the crease, the offers are sure to come in for the 30-year-old Swede.

More in NHL