NHL Free Agent Update – August 21, 2017

by | Aug 21, 2017 | Rumors | 30 comments

Will any NHL club sign free agent Jaromir Jagr?

A look at Sportsnet’s recent list of notable available free agents & more in your NHL rumor mill. 

SPORTSNET: With the start of NHL training camps less than a month away, Mark Spector listed right winger Jaromir Jagr, right wing Jarome Iginla, winger Thomas Vanek, defenseman Roman Polak, right wing Shane Doan and blueliner Cody Franson as the top available unrestricted free agents.  

Spector wonders if the New Jersey Devils might consider bringing back Jagr now that center Travis Zajac is sidelined four-to-six months. He doesn’t see him signing with a playoff club and isn’t sure if joining a Cup contender is a priority for Jagr, who turns 46 in February. He doubts the Vegas Golden Knights are a destination. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My note, not Mark Spector’s. Anyway, despite Jagr’s respectable 46 points in 82 games last season with the Florida Panthers, I think there’s a genuine concern over his lack of speed among NHL general managers. Some teams are also looking at building up their rosters with young, swift-skating talent and Jagr might not be a good fit in a fast-paced system.  

Of the other UFAs, Franson and Polak are is the youngest (30 and 31 respectively) and can still be considered in their playing prime. I can see them landing jobs before the start of the season, though they might have to do so via professional tryout offers. Earlier this summer, it was reported Franson could get a PTO from the Chicago Blackhawks. 

Vanek isn’t a top-line scorer anymore but his offensive skills could still prove useful for clubs seeking scoring punch, especially on the power play. The Detroit Red Wings are thought to have some interest in bringing him back, but their limited salary-cap space is a significant stumbling block.

As much as I respect Iginla and Doan, they’re obviously at the end of their long careers. It’s been reported they’ve talked with several clubs but it remains to be seen if they get new contracts. 

Spector also listed Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak, Calgary Flames forward Sam Bennett and Vancouver Canucks center Bo Horvat as the top unsigned restricted free agents. 

He speculates the Bruins could sign Pastrnak to a bridge deal if the young winger hopes to land an annual cap hit comparable to that of Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl. Bennett could look for a short-term deal to give himself time to get his production back on track. Spector suggests a two-year, $5 million deal could do it. If Horvat wants first-line money, Spector advocates signing a short-term deal and keep improving. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’d include Columbus Blue Jackets center Alexander Wennberg on this list, behind Pastrnak and ahead of Bennett and Horvat. The Blue Jackets could attempt a bridge deal with the 22-year-old. However, they have sufficient cap room ($12 million) to ink him to a long-term deal worth between $5-$6 million annually if they wish. It’ll be interesting to see how this one shakes out.

As for Pastrnak, both sides want a long-term deal done by the Bruins reportedly wanted a six-year deal at $6 million annually, while the Pastrnak camp seeks eight years and could push for something over $7 million per season. A bridge deal is possible but I wouldn’t dismiss the two sides working out a long-term contract for between $6.5 – $7 million annually. 

Bennett is likely to get a bridge deal. Given the Canucks’ status as a rebuilding team, they could try to lock up Horvat to a long-term deal now, rather than paying more to do so later on. 

Spector also listed Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Duchene and Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as his top tradeables. He notes Avs general manager Joe Sakic is listening to offers but feels swinging a Duchene trade could be beyond Sakic’s ability. Nugent-Hopkins, who’s earning $6 million per season, could be headed out the door eventually but Spector thinks that happens in 2018.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Considering how badly the Avs performed last season and the lousy return Sakic got in the Ryan O’Reilly trade two years ago, Sakic has little choice but to set a big asking price for Duchene. That’s a trade he has to win. There are teams interested in Duchene but not at the cost of an established young top-four defenseman, a first-round pick, a top prospect and perhaps more.

While some Oilers followers believe the club will find a way to retain Nugent-Hopkins, especially if he puts up good numbers this season, I think they’ll have little choice but to trade him and use the savings to re-sign or replace their key free agents next summer. 



  1. Im not sure what all the concern is about regarding the Oilers cap status. Conner McGreedy clearly stated he left money on the table so Edmonton could sign or resign other players.


    • Clearly, math isn’t his strong point.

    • Connor McGreedy…. lol. I love it when regular schlubs talk about how easy it is to leave millions of dollars on the table. It isn’t his responsibility to manage the Oilers finances, and I’d wager that the NHL, the players association, his agent, and everyone close to the young man would be none too pleased, or at the very least dissapointed, to see him giving the Oilers a multi million dollar discount simply to give the team a better chance to win. It is unfair to expect any player in the NHL to do that. If I were in his shoes, I would take every penny I could get and wouldn’t feel the least bit bad about it…… And to be perfectly honest, I suspect you and everyone else here would do the exact same thing.

      • It’s not that we would or would not. It’s the having the cake and eating it that’s the problem.
        You can’t say that staying competitive is important thing for you in negotiations and then sign the most expensive deal in the NHL with a 20% margin while actually keeping true to the first part. He can have 20/y for all I care, but don’t say you did it for the good of the team.

  2. Why trade RNH now? Keep him until the trade deadline and get more for him. Or if Oilers are in for a big run, trade him after the season. Its not like they are over the cap for this upcoming season. It will hurt in 2018-2019…

    • Exactly right Louis. RNH does not get traded until the deadline at the earliest. That said, he is the guy to be shopped to make cap room for the UFAs and RFAs the Oil will want/need to re-sign.

      • with 95 goals and 170 assists (265 points) over 395 NHL regular season games (and 0 goals – 4 assists in 13 playoff games), Nugent-Hopkins hasn’t exactly been lighting things up over his career – at least not to the tune of $6 mil per cap hit.

        Should that modest pace of production continue this coming season, I don’t see too many teams forking over anything of consequence for what amounts to good 3rd line C production at a cost of $6 mil for 3 more years (after this coming season)

      • It’ll be really interesting to see how things work out with RNH, he’ll be the third guy in the Edmonton depth chart this year so I see his production stable at best. His value can only go down from this point.

        He is probably best served as a 2nd line C given his (maybe) potential and cap hit but there are actually not that many teams that need a 2C. Lots of teams would love to have him as a 3C but no one is investing 6M.

        I could see Nashville as a fit other than that there isn’t much, that too if Jankrok moves the wing and Bonino slides to 3C where he is the most effective.

        All other teams searching for a center need a 1C. Maybe Columbus, Montreal and San Jose can be players but Columbus needs to manage the cap and the other two will need a 1C more than a 2C.

        The Canucks maybe?

        You also have to see what else is out there with 2C potential and pedigree.
        As it stands I see a pretty small market and it isn’t as easy as everyone is making it sound.

      • Agree with the Spectors that RNH isn’t going anywhere until next summer.
        McLellan loves flexibility in his forwards, will change it up during games and from game to game if required. Draisaitl, and recent acquisitions such as Jokinen and Strome all can play multiple forward positions.
        Draisaitl said on a recent radio interview that he doesn’t care whether he plays center or wing. My guess is that RNH will be asked to do the same and will do so willingly. He may actually thrive on the wing without the added defensive responsibility, which he is actually very good at.
        The Oil have talent and depth at forward that can challenge any team in the league. RNH is a good player they will keep this year because they can even if overpaid by a bit.
        In my mind the bigger question is the blue line. Sekera had major knee surgery, will he be 100 when he gets back 3 months in? Doubtful as it usually take 12 to 18 months to be all the way back. Can Nurse fill in the top 4 while he is out? Not thrilled about throwing Fayne or Gryba over the boards every game if they get another injury of any length.

  3. Any rumors on Chiasson? I think he’d be good fit for Rangers

  4. Lyle another slag at the O’Reilly trade, that’s 3 in short order.

    “the lousy return Sakic got in the Ryan O’Reilly trade two years ago”

    I’ll respond yet again with the same answer.

    How can you determine the winner of this trade as yet or define as lousy? O’Reilly had no intentions of signing long term in Colorado. There was bad blood for some reason. He was moved for futures. Zadarov a 22 year old; was 20 at point of trade, 6’5″ 230 lbs 1st round pick at D, Grigorenko, Compher, & the 31st pick in 2015, later flipped to SJ for the 39th pick; Greer, in 2015 & 40th pick; Morrison, in 2016. Colorad did include a 6th round pick.

    The only players from this group to yet play in the NHL really are Grigorenko & Zadarov. Zadarov is still years from being fully developed at the NHL level. Compher will be starting his NHL career this year, Greer may if not at some point this season, saw a cup of coffee, 5 games last season, & Morrison is still years away.

    Buffalo may be winning this trade today but I see no way they can win it long term. Zadorov is a stud in the making, he alone might swing this trade if he develops into a 1st or 2nd pairing NHL Dman which should be easy. I’ll wait until Compher, Greer & Morrison all have at least 3 years of NHL experience before passing judgement & that won’t be for 4 or 5 years from now as Morrison just played is 1st year of College hockey.

    • If I had a dollar for every time you use “stud” or “stud in the making” I’d be a billionaire….. and if these people were all “studs” the NHL would be kicking the nfls head in!

      • Right on. When I hear the word “stud” what pops to mind is a horny stallion or bull whose sole purpose in life is to breed. Never could figure out how some transferred the term to pro sports.

      • The nhl will never kick the nfls head in… though head injuries might do some damage to the NFL

      • George… you are the stud of specters hockey.

      • I’d have to disagree Chrism…. if every player in the NHL was a “stud” can’t miss next great player, we’d have 40 goal 4th liners. That combined with the recent decline in NFL numbers, viewers, tv ratings and struggles with sponsorships…. the NHL would easily pass the NFL.

        As far as head injuries, since when is that comical? Being a Pens fan, and your star player a head hit or two away from joining that club….. I’d think you’d be a little more sensitive to the issue?

      • He has to contribute his “jokes” – otherwise there’s not always much he can contribute from a substantial viewpoint.

      • Ny. Why was that comical? I was serious.

      • George I feel my jokes contribute as much intelligent hockey commentary as any on here. I’m sorry you feel your commentary is so mich more valuable. Thank you for blessing us with your wisdom on a semi daily basis.

      • Classic case of calling the pot black there! Like most in here I try to voice an opinion without adding in unnecessary “zingers.”

        But then, of course, some people believe they are champagne in a tall glass when, in fact, they come across like warm piss in a plastic cup.

    • As it even looks now, the Avs are poised to win this trade.

      Zadorov and Compher will be impact players this season and will just keep getting better. Greer will come on this season or next and looks to be good.

      As Striker states above,. The other pieces have yet to get into the mix yet.

      It is really starting to get old when every keeps echoing the ignorant chorus of the hockey media without even looking for themselves.

      I am starting to understand that no one actually knows what is going on in Colorado other than the actual fans. I have come to the conclusion that none of the so called insider even watches any Avs games. Even our own newspaper doesn’t even have a clue, they just regurgitate what Canada keeps getting wrong. The Avs don’t even have a hockey beat writer anymore. And the Avs never report anything beyond their press conferences. Sakic has come out a couple of times on record, but you know he has always been called qouteless Joe right? And no one other than Avs fans seem to have bothered to read anything Sakic has actually said himself. Sakic himself said over a month ago that Snow never even discussed a 1st round pick in that Hamonic offer. But Canada and everyone else keeps running with it.

      Again, the Avs are, and always have been, a vault. Even more so now.

      The Avs are going to make fools out of anyone who keeps spewing nonsense that the media spoon feeds them. I am really surprised that with so many fragile egos that people don’t try to protect them better with facts.

      • The Avs are gonna be terrible for a stretch.
        It’s a shame really as they have several nice pieces already in place.

  5. Bruins in tough position with DP.. to good to let go and expensive to keep without moving another high priced player on their roster….. was a boring offseason for the Bruins got very interesting

  6. Oilers should play RNH on McDavids RW and see if that can increase his value. They almost have to trade him or Lucic or Sekera (someone that makes ballpark $5-6M) to resign a bunch of other key guys. Including an extension for Talbot. Chiarreli has shit the bed on a few moves imo (namely signing Connor before Draisaitl and the Reinhart trade- could have Barzal- and the Russell resigning and not getting enough for Hall or Eberle) but he’s made some great moves as well. Oilers may have to move 2 key guys (RNH, Sekera) to resign Nurse Maroon Talbot etc.

    • I also think that RNH will be on the wing on one of the top 2 lines starting this season. IMO the centres will be McDavid, Draisaitl, Strome, Letestu.

  7. Same stuff everyday! Boring offseason! No offence Lyle I know you have to report something it must get tedious at times. Watching Sakic make non trades is akin to watching paint dry!

  8. On a different site I argued guentzel should be in the argument for too 5 wingers 22 or under. Tough competition but then I look at numbers for pasternak and I get optimism shrinkage. 7 mil for Pasternak? What could the cup goal scoring leader get? 5 at least!! Yikes!

    • Striker could score that many goals playing with Crosby or malkin cause striker is a stud

      • Other studs have tried and failed.

  9. Please sign horvat