The NHL free agency period opens at noon on Friday, July 1. The day that I’m writing this is Thursday, June 30. Late to be writing something like this, right? Anyways, I do want to make some predictions for NHL free agency, and that’s what I’m going to do.
There are a lot of storylines going into tomorrow afternoon. How will the aftermath of Steven Stamkos re-signing with the Tampa Bay Lightning affect the other teams that were after him, like the Detroit Red Wings or Toronto Maple Leafs? How will the trade market shape up with guys like Rick Nash and Kevin Shattenkirk still out there? Will Milan Lucic and Jason Demers officially sign with the Edmonton Oilers as reports indicate? Where will top guys and former New York Islanders teammates Frans Nielson, Kyle Okposo, and Matt Martin land?
Detroit spreads out cap space
The Red Wings were among the favorites to land Steven Stamkos in free agency, but never even had a chance to meet with him. Stamkos re-signed with the Lightning on an eight year, $68 million deal.
However, the Red Wings aren’t in any sort of trouble. As a matter of fact, this allows them to spread out their $19.1M in cap space, instead of investing $10M a year on one, albeit good player. I’m predicting that the Wings will reel in forwards Frans Nielsen and Loui Eriksson, along with defenceman Kris Russell.
Nielsen is a center they need after losing Pavel Datsyuk to the KHL. Eriksson is a scoring winger who can compliment Nielson or franchise face Dylan Larkin quite well. Kris Russell is one of the premiere shot blockers in the game. For a lackluster defensive core like the one Detroit has, Russell can inject some toughness and grit on their blueline.
Other possibilities for Detroit include Kyle Okposo and an offer sheet to Winnipeg Jets defenceman Jacob Trouba.
Blues lose out
The St. Louis Blues have a lot of work ahead of them. A lot of their core players from last year’s Western Conference Finals run are now unrestricted free agents. Guys like their captain David Backes and winger Troy Browuer are hitting the open market and it’s unclear if they will return. I’m predicting that those two won’t, maybe even more than them.
Browuer might join a team like the Los Angeles Kings, a team in need of a winger after letting Milan Lucic walk. Backes could join a team like the Islanders, who might be losing centre Frans Nielsen.
San Jose Sharks will make a splash
The San Jose Sharks are the defending Western Conference Champions heading into 2016-17, yet I still feel they’ll make a splash, one way or another. They could trade for a guy like Rick Nash or sign guys like Okposo and Eriksson. Matt Martin may be another possibility, as they would love to add some grit onto their squad and what better way to do so than signing the NHL’s hits leader?
The Sharks were a team believed to have made an effort for Stamkos, which might indicate their willingness to be active. Watch out for the San Jose Sharks on July 1.
That’s all I have for you today. Do you agree with my predictions? What predictions do you have? Let us know!
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