This years free agent pool has a ton of talent at every position; definitely a lot more than usual free agencies. It will be interesting to see where each player lands, especially with this years flat cap hit due to the NHL’s loss in revenue from the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Hockey News ranked the top 30 unrestricted free agents of the 2020 offseason. So based on that, which teams do I see being the best fits for each of the top ten players on that list?
10. T.J. Brodie – D – 30 Years Old
Brodie is not putting up a lot of the numbers that he used to, but he is still a very stable and skilled puck moving defenseman. This year, he had nineteen points in 64 games and also putting up a +7 plus/minus. In ten playoff games with the Calgary Flames, he put up four points and was even on the plus/minus. My best fit for T.J. Brodie is with the Detroit Red Wings. They may not be the best team in the NHL, but Brodie would have a top pair role in Detroit. Plus, the Red Wings can really use a good Veteran defenseman to help mentor their younger prospects coming in.
9. Jacob Markstrom – G – 30 Years Old
Markstrom had an amazing breakout season this year and proved that he is a real starting goaltender in the NHL. He came up with a record of 23-16-4, a 2.75 goals against average, and a .918 save percentage. His great performance also traveled with him to the playoffs for the first two series; where he put up a record of 7-3-0, a 2.44 goals against average, and a .929 save percentage. Although it seems as though he, and the Canucks, will get kicked out of the Bubble by the Vegas Golden Knights, Vancouver will still need Markstrom for a bit longer, until Thatcher Demko fully progresses into a full fledged starter. That is why the best fit for the Swedish goaltender is right where he is, Vancouver.
8. Tyler Toffoli – RW – 28 Years Old
Toffoli’s numbers look a lot lower than years past, but that was because he was on the Los Angeles Kings during the beginning of the season. Once he was traded to the Vancouver Canucks, he instantly soared, recording a point per game during his tenure in the regular season with the Canucks. In total, Tyler Toffoli accumulated 44 points in 68 games this season. This season has shown that Toffoli obviously thrives with a competitive team, and that is why the Boston Bruins are his best fit. They already have a high powered offense that just needs one more piece to tie it all together; and if Krug decides to test the Free Agent waters, Boston will have no trouble picking up the talented winger.
7. Tyson Barrie – D – 29 Years Old
It really looked like Tyson Barrie was given too much responsibility in Toronto; and he did not look comfortable at all. However, 39 points in 70 games is not bad for a defenseman, and Barrie still has a lot in him. The best fit for him would be the Florida Panthers, assuming they are willing to spend more than they would like. The Cats are in desperate need for another top four defenseman, and maybe he would help step up Mike Matheson’s play if they were paired up together.
6. Evgenii Dadonov – RW – 31 Years Old
The Russian winger has done very well in the Panthers organization. This year, he had 47 points in 69 games; 25 of those points were goals. The veteran goal scorer would fit in splendidly with the Minnesota Wild. A line with both him and, future superstar, Kirill Kaprizov, would put up significant point totals.
5. Robin Lehner – G – 29 Years Old
After spending some time struggling on an aging Blackhawks team, Robin Lehner finally put up great numbers when he was traded to a competitive Vegas team. Lehner finished off the season with a record of 19-10-5, a 2.89 goals against average, and a .920 save percentage. However, what is most impressive are his playoff stats. So far, Lehner is 6-1-0 in the Bubble. He has a 2.10 goals against average and a .910 save percentage. It seems like the Golden Knights are losing favor in Marc-Andre Fleury; and the feeling may be mutual to both parties, if you have seen the twitter post by Fleury’s agent. If it is certain that Vegas wants Lehner as their permanent starter, than that is the place he deserves to be.
4. Mike Hoffman – LW – 31 Years Old
Hoffman had an elite season with the Panthers this year, with 59 points and 29 goals in only 69 games. Although his team did not fair well in the qualifying round, he still had five points in only four games. Hoffman is a great sniper with a deadly one-timer and the Panthers are extremely unlucky to have to let this man go. However, the Blue Jackets will be ecstatic once free agency comes around, because I think they are Hoffman’s best fit. They have a great young core and I think that will complement well with Hoffman’s experience mixed with his offensive upside.
3. Torey Krug – D – 29 Years Old
Krug had a great run with Boston, after they took a chance on the undrafted defenseman in 2011. He had another solid season this year, with 49 points in 61 regular season games and four points in nine playoff games. There still might be a chance that the Bruins keep the American defenseman, but look at Montreal to maybe make a swing at acquiring his talents. Montreal, in my opinion, would be the best fit; they have a young core all around and they have great defenseman to complement Krug’s game. You can also say Detroit is a good fit as well, being that it is Torey Krug’s former stomping grounds; but I do not think Krug will want to join a team that is currently in a deep rebuild.
2. Taylor Hall – LW – 29 Years Old
It is rare for a former Hart Trophy winner under the age of 30 to be a pending free agent; but this is not like any other free agency, especially with the Covid-19 pandemic. No one is exactly sure if Hall wants to resign with Arizona or not, but wherever he goes he will have a big impact. He did not have as great of a season as he usually has, but his performance will surely skyrocket once he is on a team that is a lot more competitive; and that team is the New York Islanders. The Isles already have the shut down defense, and all they need is some firepower on offense to take them to the next level.
1. Alex Pietrangelo – D – 30 Years Old
The Blues would love to bring back there captain; and after getting knocked out of this years playoffs in round one, he would be a big key to bringing St. Louis back to glory next season. However, Pietrangelo’s asking price will be really high; and chances are the Blues will not have enough room in the cap. Any other fits? Yes! The Winnipeg Jets would love to grab this asset, especially after losing Dustin Byfuglien this season. If the offense holds up, Pietrangelo can get another chance at a Cup with a team on the rise.
Sunshine State Hockey on Twitter: @sunshine_hockey
Sunshine State Hockey on Instagram: @sunshine_state_hockey
Sunshine State Hockey on YouTube: Sunshine State Hockey
Faceoff Hockey Network Social: @theFHN