NHL Free Agents

Cam Ward, Jonathan Bernier, Carter Hutton signing news as July 1st approaches

Cam Ward is said to be signing with Chicago soon. The Blackhawks have reportedly been in constant contact with Ward. After Corey Crawford dealt with some major injuries and the Blackhawks missed the playoffs due to goaltending issues and some poor defensive depth. At least the Blackhawks have at least addressed one area of concern. Crawford is set to also be a UFA (unrestricted free agent) in 2019-20. Ward is now 34-years-old probably looking for a 2-3 year deal. The terms and conditions have not come out yet but it is Ward is set to be a Blackhawk soon.

Jonathan Brenier is set to be a Detroit Red Wing upon free agency. Brenier is 29-years-old emerging in the NHL on the Los Angeles Kings, and then bouncing around between Toronto, Anaheim and now Colorado. Brenier is probably coming in to compete with Jimmy Howard for the starting job. Brenier is coming off a playoff appearing season and one of his best years with a 19-13-3 with a 2.85 GAA and .913 SV percentage. Bernier’s best year came in 2013-14 starting in 49 games with 26-19-7 record a 2.69 GAA and .923 SV percentage. Again terms and conditions have not come out yet but it is said he will be a Detroit Red Wing soon.

Carter Hutton is said to be rumored to Buffalo soon. Buffalo is going after Hutton for their starting goalie role. Hutton at 32-years-old now gets his first staring job. Hutton played for St. Louis as the back up for 2 years, before that he was a back up in Nashville for 3 years. Hutton is coming off his best season starting in 26 games posting a 17-7-3 a 2.09 GAA and .931 SV percentage. Hutton will now be another Buffalo test, Robin Lehner failed, so let’s see if Hutton can be the savior in Buffalo…

John Tavares set to let Islanders know decision Friday. Tavares could possibly hit free agency in TWO days…

John Tavares is the most highly sought out free agent in the salary cap era, and probably ever for that matter. Tavares has spent the last nine years of his career in New York, being drafted first overall by the Islanders in 2009, emerging in the league at 19, and making an immediate impact on the Islanders team and organization. Winning the Calder his rookie year and since becoming the Islanders beloved player for the last 8 years now. The Islanders could very well be watching their captain walk away this afternoon.John TavaresTavares is a 5-time All-Star and has been in the running for the Hart four times and just about any NHL award out there at one point Tavares has been in the talks of winning. Tavares has collected 621 points in 669 games making him a .92 point per game player. With 272 goals and 349 assists throughout his career. Tavares best year came in 2014-15 when he scored 86 points in 82 games, recently Tavares scored 84 points in 82 games with 37 goals and 47 assists. Tavares has collected now seven 65 plus point seasons in his 9 years, not to mention in 2012-13 the season that was cut short due to a lock out (47 points in 48 games). Tavares, has been the lord and savior for the Islanders and I think we get my point that he is one of the best players in the NHL and the best player to come into the Islanders organization for the last 20 years or so.

Well, with that said Tavares is set to the tell the Islanders if he will be signing back with the them later this afternoon! Check Twitter constantly and be on the look out. Tavares has since coming out about his free agency search has met with Dallas, Toronto, Boston, New York, San Jose, Montreal and Vegas. As the process went along he quickly ruled out Montreal and Vegas. And has since met with each team. After the last meeting in L.A. the Tavares camp and himself shipped out to Toronto back to his home.

The concern that is coming from Islander fans is that Tavares has been oddly quiet. After leaving and not even meeting with Lou Lamoirello was the first sign of concern I saw. Obviously the fact that Tavares even began this process is number one but still. It is fair to say that Tavares has earned the right to go about this process and see what other teams are interested in him. He clearly wants to win, the guy is the perfect example of a competitor and one of the best in the league that is. Therefore winning is number one on his list, but he has earned the right to go and cash out on a 9 plus million dollar per year deal.

Tavares has given his all to this Islanders organization and they have not necessarily given him much back, they have not done the best job to really build a winning franchise around him and for the last 9 years of his career, he was stuck with the management of Garth Snow, Jack Capuano, Doug Weight and the end of Scott Gordon’s career. While the addition of Barry Trotz and Lou Lamoirello is great it may have been too late to convince Tavares to stay. Since Tavares has been on the team the Islanders have made the playoffs 3 times, winning one series and finishing 5th or worse in the division 7 times of the 9 years Tavares has been here. It is fair to say that if Tavares does in fact decide to leave New York it is no one’s but Garth Snow and Islanders past management who did this and he has deserved the right to move on and peruse other options of his career.



NHL Free Agents 2018

Notable Defenseman Free Agents

As we went over some goaltenders and forwards, we cannot forget about the position in the game(biased opinion) in hockey. Defenseman. Here are some noteworthy free agents that could be of use to many teams.

Mike Green: Most noticeable among defenseman out there this year due to his All-Star appearance, and 33 points in 66 games. Mike Green has spent the last three seasons in Detroit scoring 35, 36, 33 points in each season. Coming over from Washington where he spent 10 years, Green is now 32-years-old in a game that is transitioning to a much faster and younger style the veteran defenseman has seen more so top-four minutes in recent years opposed to his number one d-man duties in Washington. While Green has dealt with some injuries throughout his career, he is a reliable number 5 defenseman on any NHL roster. Green is capable of producing 35-45 points depending on the team. Green does, in fact, see a lot of his minutes and points on the power play so that is a must for whatever team he is searching for. If Green does not stay in Detroit, he will find a job elsewhere.

Toby Enstrom: I believe if I am not mistaken it was said that the Jets were not interested in signing Enstrom. Enstrom played in just 43 games scoring just 6 points. After dealing with injuries last season Enstrom never really established himself as a force on the Jets backend. With a cap hit of 5.7 mil Enstrom services will be used elsewhere. Enstrom is 33 years old spending his whole career with Atlanta/Winnipeg. Therefore Enstrom knows no other atmosphere. It will be an adjustment for the veteran defenseman but where Enstrom goes next, I don’t think he’ll be receiving 5.7 mil due to the fact his best came back in 2010-11 when he collected 51 points.

Dan Hamhuis: Hamhuis spent the majority of his career with Nashville and Vancouver after being sent to Dallas in 2016-17 where he collected 16 points in 79 games, Hamhuis was on edge heading into this season. But as he collected 24 points in 80 games, he may find himself back in Dallas. Breaking up the d-core right now would not be the best bet for Dallas but with the signing of Stephen John, Hamhuis $3.75 mil cap hit may be hard for Dallas to swing if they want another scoring forward. Hamhuis has been a solid borderline 4 defenseman but a solid number five d-man. Hamhuis has been around the 25 point mark his whole career. If Dallas won’t budge on the 35-years-old a little high asking price someone out there (Buffalo) may budge.

Lucas Sbisa/Calvin De Haan: These two are put in the same grouping here because they are both around the same age (27-28) and both could be finding themselves elsewhere next season. De Haan missed a majority of 2017-18, only playing in 33 games, and he was on a one year deal coming into this year. Therefore who knows the Islanders commitment to him. Sbisa as well played in 30 games this season with Vegas, he tallied a solid 14 points in the time he got in the lineup. These two provide a ton of upside due to their left hand, young age and relatively hungry to make an impact on an NHL roster. De Haan could be back with the Islanders but everything needs to get worked out with Tavares first. As well as for Sbisa he could be back in Vegas but they have more important signings at the moment.

Other note-worthy defensemen: 

Kevin Bieska

Alexi Emelin 

Jack Johnson: rumored to be going to Pittsburgh… for an AAV of 3.2 million. 

Paul Martin: Recently bought out by San Jose, 37, only playing in 13 games last year…

Andrej Sustr

Nick Holden

Tomas Hickey 

NHL Free Agents 2018

Notable Goaltender Free Agents: Lehner, Mrazek, Hutton

Carter Hutton: Hutton has been said to be getting a lot of traffic from teams around the league. A lot of teams can use Hutton’s services. The question is though will Hutton settle for another backup goaltending job or will he go to a team that will offer him a starting role. It seems that Hutton wants to leave St. Louis indicating he wants to be a starting goalie. Luckily some starting roles are open. The Islanders, Sabres, Red Wings, Flyers, Canucks and others can all use a starting goalie. Hutton has started in 114 career games posting a 63-39-17 record, with a 2.42 GAA and .915 save percentage. Hutton was undrafted emerging in the league with Chicago in 2012 shortly being moved to Nashville the following season where he started in the most games of his career. Appearing in 34 games with a 20-11-4 record, 2.62 GAA, and .910 SV %. Hutton appeared in just a combined 53 games in the following three years. Until seeing more time this past season appearing in 26 games posting a 17-7-3with a 2.09 GAA and .931 SV percentage. Hutton came in for relief after Jake Allen had some minor mishaps in the crease, which Hutton was a solid and reliable number two which is probably why he has gained so much interest around the league. Hutton has got calls from a few teams and most notably the Blackhawks, where he started his career in 2012.

Petr Mrazek: Mrazek is another young goaltender hitting the free agency market. After being sent over from Detroit to Philadelphia at the trade deadline it has been rumored that Mrazek will not be getting an offer from Philadelphia this offseason making him a qualified free agent. Mrazek was drafted in the 5th round in 2010, making his appearance in the NHL 2012, appearing in just 34 games during his first three years. Slowly after that, he started getting more frequent time from 2015-2017 appearing in 93 games posting a 45-37-15 with a 2.69 GAA, .911 SV percentage. After having a falling out in the 2016-17 season, Mrazek appeared in just 15 games with Detroit after being sent to Philadelphia. Last season Mrazek posted a 14-13-6 record with a 3.05 GAA and a .905 SV percentage in 33 games. Where will Mrazek end up is unknown right now as it only came out a few days ago that he will be a free agent now. A lot of traction will be coming after Mrazek as he is a 26-year-old goaltender with a ton of upside.

Robin Lehner: Another 26-year-old goaltender on the free agency market. Lehner has been said that he will also not be receiving a contract offer from the Sabres, therefore, he will be a free agent. Lehner was expected to be a solid number one this season after failing to do so and posting a 14-26-9 record, the Sabres have obviously decided to move forward. Lehner has career numbers of 72-97-35 with a 2.82 GAA and .915 SV percentage. Lehner has been the “starter” in Buffalo for about two seasons now, after beating out Andres Nilsson last season, Lehner was given the ropes in Buffalo. Being drafted by Ottawa in 2009 in the second round and spending 5 seasons with them appearing in 76 games and failing to post an above .500 record in net, Lehner was sent over to Buffalo in 2015. Not making his mark as a number one goaltender yet, Lehner still has plenty of time to prove to some NHL clubs that he is a worthy number one.



NHL Free Agents 2018

Noteable Forward Free Agents: Yakupov, Smith-Pelly, Reider, Duclair

Tobias Reider: Reider was sent over to L.A. during the deadline from Arizona. Spending 3.5 years with Arizona before being sent to L.A., Reider posted 92 points in 234 games (43G, 49A) and in 20 games with LA he posted 6 points (4G, 2A). Reider is 25-years-old his best year being in 2016-17 posting 37 points in 82 games. Reider was drafted in 2011 in the 4th round by Edmonton. Reider is a bottom six forward that can be of service to many teams, the thing with Reider is also his services are cheap as he could be a 1 to 1.5 million AAV.

Anthony Duclair: The 22-year-old, 3rd round draft pick is set to free agency very soon. Duclair spent one season in New York after being sent over to Arizona in 2015 where he spent three seasons until he was sent to Chicago at the deadline this season. Duclair has played in 213 games scoring 37 goals and 52 assists. Duclair is a very young, speedy left winger that can be used on any team, for the sole reason that he is extremely young and has a ton of upside. Duclair has received some interest from the Penguins. Until free agency hits, Duclair will probably be receiving many calls from many teams around the league.

Nail Yakupov: Again we see the 24-year-old on the move. Yakupov the 1st round 1st overall pick is on the move again as free agency is set to begin soon. Yakupov spent four seasons in Edmonton playing 252 games with 111 points (50G, 61A). Being sent to St. Louis which he failed only playing in 40 games tallying 9 points. Spending his most recent season in Colorado getting off to an extremely hot start, to eventually cool down dramatically only tallying 16 points in 58 games. Yakupov is 24, with the 1st overall pressure still hanging over his head. Yakupov has said to be getting interest from Nashville but until we hear more Yakupov will be on the hunt for a new team yet again.

Devante Smith-Pelly: Smith Pelly is coming off a Stanley Cup win, scoring some clutch goals during the Capitals Stanley Cup run. Smith Pelly is a solid bottom-six forward that can be a very good fourth liner, and a borderline third liner. Smith Pelly has been all over the league, only being 26-year-old and being on four different teams tells us a lot about Smith Pelly. He is a journeyman, to say the least. Smith Pelly spending 4 years in Anaheim, 2 in Montreal, 2 in New Jersey and the 75 games in Washington and winning a cup. Smith Pelly is an experienced winger at just 26 years old. If he does not end back in Washington, he will land a spot somewhere in the NHL as he has proved his worth in the league now winning a cup and performing in the playoffs.