NHL fans, it is time to mark your calendars. The 2019 NHL Free Agency period, if it stands put the way it is today, will be the best one of this decade. There are so many elite players that will have the opportunity to test the market and it is truly exciting. Although many of your teams are at risk of losing their franchise players, it will still be quite intriguing to see where everyone ends up. The NHL will completely change July 1st, 2019.
Through this list, we will be looking at the Top 15 free agents of this class and determining where they will end up. Every player on this list has made the All Star team at least once, so needless to say, it will be an incredibly fun article. The decisions on each player will be determined by a number of reasons, such as their desires to win or the possibility of playing for their home city. Although this offseason is so far away, it is never too early to take a gander at every possible scenario.
Nonetheless, here is the list of 15 upcoming free agents and where they might sign.
16 Marc-Andre Fleury - Philadelphia Flyers
Marc-Andre Fleury has consistently been one of the best goalies in the NHL for his entire career. As a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Fleury had the great opportunity of playing in front of an amazing cast of players and as a result, won three Stanley Cups. With that, Fleury will be an amazing pickup for any team that is in need of a goalie.
It is unlikely that Fluery ends up staying with the Vegas Golden Knights because they will be a rebuilding team for quite some time. With that said, Fluery will want to join a contender and that could land him a job with Philadelphia Flyers. Although the Flyers and Penguins are huge rivals, playing there would give him the chance of being a number one goalie with a team who could be a contender by that time.
15 Jason Spezza - Anaheim Ducks
By the time Jason Spezza is a free agent, he will be 36 years old and definitely in the twilight years of his career. Spezza has been an elite talent in the league for so long, but sadly, has yet to win a cup. If Dallas is not a contender by the time he hits free agency, expect him to move on to a new team and to go for the Cup one more time.
With that said, Spezza would make a great addition for the Anaheim Ducks because they are a Western Conference team who will definitely be in contention come the 2019 offseason. They have the perfect mix of aging veterans and elite defensive talent to make them contenders for a few more seasons. Expect Spezza to fit into their Top-6 and help them get one step closer to glory.
14 Blake Wheeler - Winnipeg Jets
Blake Wheeler has overcome a lot of adversity in his career and has become an elite talent. The beginning of his career was very rocky in Boston and many deemed him to be a bust because he did not become a top-6 player there. Yet, his stint in Winnipeg has been truly amazing and has even given him the chance to be a captain.
With that said, expect Wheeler to be a very popular target during the 2019 offseason. Yet, at the end of the day, it is very likely that Wheeler will opt to stay in Winnipeg to be their captain for their final seasons. Wheeler will be a great veteran presence in the locker room and help the Jets become the contender they very well could be in the future.
13 Joe Pavelski - Columbus Blue Jackets
Joe Pavelski has become the heart and soul of the San Jose Sharks over the past few seasons with his great leadership skills and offensive talent. Pavelski will be a very desired candidate during the 2019 offseason due to the fact that he has been a captain for a handful of seasons and has been one of the best powerplay specialists in the league.
Although he is beloved in San Jose, expect to see Pavelski leave them as a free agent. By the time this offseason rolls around, the Sharks will no longer be a contender due to the fact that Joe Thornton will be retired and Logan Couture very well could leave them as well. With that, expect to see Pavelski join the Columbus Blue Jackets, a team on the rise who need center depth.
12 Logan Couture - St. Louis Blues
The second big free agent coming from the San Jose Sharks, Logan Couture will be heavily sought after when he hits the open market. Couture is a very talented playmaker that has made him known as a very dangerous offensive zone threat. Due to the Sharks’ decline, expect to see Couture leave them as well and go to a team that has a chance of winning.
Logan Couture would be an excellent fit in St. Louis because they lack a true number one center. By the time the 2019 offseason comes around, the Blues will have more cap space due to the fact that players like Paul Stastny will be off the books. Couture will thrive on a line with Vladimir Tarasenko and make a lethal top line in St. Louis.
11 Jeff Skinner - Nashville Predators
Jeff Skinner is by far one of the most interesting NHL hockey players to watch because he is an excellent goal scorer and has amazing hands. Skinner’s past experience with figure skating has also made him almost untouchable on the ice and very tricky to follow. Skinner will be sought out for immensely when he is a free agent.
Jeff Skinner would be a very good fit for the Nashville Predators because they are a flashy team and contender. Although the Predators have one of the best defensive teams in the league, they do need more offensive talent to maintain their status as a perennial contender. Skinner would instantly provide them with a 30 goal scorer on their top line.
10 Sergei Bobrovsky - Columbus Blue Jackets
Sergei Bobrovsky has paved himself into one of the best goaltenders in the league and this should be an absolute shock to NHL fans. Bobrovsky went through a lot of adversity and was quite lucky to even make the NHL as an under the radar prospect. However, after being traded to Columbus from Philadelphia, he has truly become an elite talent.
The Columbus Blue Jackets will not let their superstar goalie leave the team, especially with them becoming a legitimate contender for at least a few more seasons. Bobrovsky is the main reason behind their success so the Blue Jackets will stop at nothing until he is permanently their number one goalie long term.
9 Matt Duchene - Montreal Canadiens
The next time we see Matt Duchene’s name in the transaction mill will be when he is inevitably traded away from the Colorado Avalanche. The Avalanche have been openly trying to get rid of him for over a year now, so expect to see him one a new team very shortly. Yet, in 2019, he will also be a free agent and one of the best ones available.
Expect Matt Duchene to sign with the Montreal Canadiens because they are in desperate need of a number one center and most likely will still be during that time. Duchene would be a great fit because he is French Canadian and everyone knows Montreal loves bringing in players like that. This will be a match made in Heaven for both parties.
7 Wayne Simmonds - Boston Bruins
Wayne Simmonds is by far the most intimidating name on this free agency list and many teams will be calling him on July 1st, 2019. Simmonds is an incredible talent in the league because he not only puts up good numbers offensively, but is a physical beast. Simmonds is arguably the best powerforward in the league and will get a huge raise.
Simmonds would be an excellent fit for the Boston Bruins because he has all the qualities of that they look for in their players. The Bruins are a team that are a tweener right now, but are definitely heading in the right direction. By adding Simmonds, they would instantly become a far better team and could make the jump as contenders.
6 Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Calgary Flames
Oliver Ekman-Larsson is such an underrated NHL defender and that is mainly because he is stuck playing in Arizona. Ekman-Larsson has quickly become one the best offensive defenseman in the league and will receive a huge contract during the 2019 offseason. Any team that acquires him will instantly become better.
Ekman-Larsson will definitely leave Arizona the first chance he gets and would be an excellent fit for the Calgary Flames. The Calgary Flames are becoming a true contender with their great offensive talent, but they need help on the back end. Adding Ekman-Larsson would instantly increase their chances of winning the Stanley Cup and could make all the difference.
5 Ryan McDonagh - Minnesota Wild
Ryan McDonagh has grown into an absolute superstar with the New York Rangers and is an amazing captain for the club. He is well respected around the league and has the ability to put up great numbers both offensively and defensively. With all that, he will be one of the top targets of the 2019 offseason and will land a huge contract.
McDonagh very well could move on from the New York Rangers due to their cap issues and inevitable decline. McDonagh may decide to go back to his hometown and join the Minnesota Wild. Although this may be challenging for the Wild to pull off, a player like McDonagh does not come around often and they should take full advantage of it while they can.
4 Drew Doughty - Toronto Maple Leafs
Drew Doughty had the amazing opportunity of winning two Stanley Cups at a young age with the Los Angeles Kings. During this time, Doughty has emerged into a franchise defenseman and has put up some spectacular seasons. With the Kings starting to fall down, expect Doughty to move on to give him the chance to try to win again.
Doughty has openly stated that he would love to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs numerous times and this very well could become a reality. The Maple Leafs will give him the opportunity to win again because by 2019, they will be one of the best teams in the league easily. Toronto may finally get their long overdue Stanley Cup with an addition like Doughty.
3 Max Pacioretty - New York Rangers
Max Pacioretty is one of the most talented wingers in the NHL, but often is overlooked because of the many criticisms he faces as the captain of the Montreal Canadiens. Everyone knows that it is very challenging to play in Montreal and Pacioretty is feeling the heat of it every time he steps on the ice. Yet, he is still an elite talent who many teams will want on their roster.
Pacioretty will likely move on from Montreal because of the pressure he faces and very well could go to the New York Rangers. Pacioretty grew up in Connecticut and it has been stated that he grew up a Rangers fan. With that said, Pacioretty would be a great addition for the Rangers and would help bolster their top heavy offensive core.
2 Tyler Seguin - Ottawa Senators
Tyler Seguin is one of the greatest players in the NHL today and the Dallas Stars are very lucky that they were able to snag him away from the Boston Bruins. Since joining the Stars, Seguin has consistently been in the top of the league in points and has grown as a very solid two-way forward. Seguin will be one of the hottest targets available because he is an absolute game changer.
Due to the fact that the Dallas Stars are an inconsistent team, Seguin very well could leave them to play for a different club. Seguin would be an excellent fit for the Ottawa Senators because they are a team on the rise and are on the verge of ridding of their bad contracts. Seguin would be an amazing first line center who could carry them to success.
1 Erik Karlsson - Ottawa Senators
Erik Karlsson has become arguably the best defenseman in the league and is the reason why the Ottawa Senators have found success. Karlsson not only carries the defensive load for the team, but is consistently the top scorer for their club. The Senators cannot let Karlsson leave them or they very well will become a team of mediocrity.
The Ottawa Senators will be the winners of the 2019 offseason by bringing back Karlsson and signing an elite center like Tyler Seguin. This will be the offseason that helps them become an above average franchise and will ultimately allow them to win their first Stanley Cup in the modern era. Karlsson will need to be back for that to happen.