NHL UFA Update – July 15, 2017
Reviewing Sportsnet’s latest breakdown of the NHL’s top-10 remaining unrestricted free agents.
SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently examined the NHL’s top-10 remaining UFAs. Topping the list is defenseman Andrei Markov, who is representing himself and sought a two-year, $12 million contract from the Montreal Canadiens, who countered with a one-year deal. A rumored report out of Montreal linking the 38-year-old to the Philadelphia Flyers were quickly refuted by Philly GM Ron Hextall.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers are going younger on the blueline so there’s no fit there for Markov. The Canadiens’ recent offer of a one-year deal to 39-year-old Mark Streit cast further doubt on the possibility of Markov returning to Montreal unless he’s willing to lower his asking price.
Left wing Thomas Vanek remains in contact with the Detroit Red Wings, but they could lack sufficient salary-cap space to bring him back. They still must re-sign restricted free agents Tomas Tatar and Andreas Athanasiou. A reunion with the Buffalo Sabres isn’t likely. Right wing Jaromir Jagr attracted some interest from NHL teams but no serious offers yet. If he’s unable to land with an NHL club, the ECHL’s Florida Everblades are keen to sign him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wings will have around $6 million in cap space (once they place Johan Franzen on LTIR). Unless they free up more space, I doubt they’ll have enough room to re-sign Tatar and Athanasiou and still bring back Vanek. It could take a while for Vanek and Jagr to land with new NHL clubs. Wouldn’t be surprised if they aren’t signed until September.
Nashville Predators center and captain Mike Fisher is taking time to decide if he’ll return or retire. The Predators would likely bring him back on a one-year contract at a reduced rate. Teams have contacted defenseman Cody Franson, who could be a good third-pairing rearguard. Fox wonders if the Chicago Blackhawks would try to bring back blueliner Brian Campbell if they can find the cap room.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think it’s either returning with the Preds or retirement for Fisher. I don’t see him signing elsewhere. Looks like another long summer searching for a contract for Franson. Two years ago, it took until September before he landed a contract. Could take that long again this year. I don’t see Campbell returning to the Hawks, who are pressed against the cap ceiling.
The Boston Bruins and Minnesota Wild reportedly have some interest in winger Drew Stafford. The Montreal Canadiens pitched a one-year contract to blueliner Mark Streit. The Buffalo Sabres and winger Brian Gionta haven’t fully closed the door on his possible return, but the recent return of Jason Pominville makes that unlikely. Right wing Jarome Iginla is taking the summer to spend with his family and using the time to decide if he wants to return next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect Stafford will land with an NHL club at some point this summer. If the Habs can’t work out a deal with Markov, Streit is their obvious “Plan B”. The playing careers of Gionta and Iginla could be over.