Notable NHL Free Agent Signings and Trades – July 28, 2021

Notable NHL Free Agent Signings and Trades – July 28, 2021

Be sure to check in regularly throughout the day for today’s notable free-agent signings and trades.

SIGNINGS (Updated: 6 pm ET.

New Jersey Devils sign defenseman Dougie Hamilton to a seven-year, $63 million contract ($9 million AAV).

Boston Bruins sign goaltender Linus Ullmark to a four-year, $20 million contract ($5 million AAV).

Montreal Canadiens sign winger Mike Hoffman to a three-year, $13.5 million contract ($4.5 million AAV).

Anaheim Ducks sign center Ryan Getzlaf to a one-year, $4.5 million contract.

Detroit Red Wings sign center Pius Suter to a two-year, $6.5 million contract ($3.25 million AAV).

Boston Bruins sign winger Nick Foligno to a two-year contract. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

Ottawa Senator sign defenseman Michael Del Zotto to a two-year, $4 million deal ($2 million AAV).

SIGNINGS: (Updated: 4 pm ET)

Tampa Bay Lightning re-sign center Brayden Point to an eight-year, $76 million contract ($9.5 million AAV).

Vegas Golden Knights sign forward Mattias Janmark to a one-year, $2 million contract.

SIGNINGS (Updated: 2:45 pm ET):

Seattle Kraken sign goaltender Philipp Grubauer to a six-year, $35.4 million contract ($5.9 million AAV).

Seattle Kraken sign winger Jaden Schwartz to a five-year, $27.5 million contract ($5.5 million AAV).

Los Angeles Kings sign center Phillip Danault to a six-year, $33 million contract ($5.5 million AAV).

Los Angeles Kings sign defenseman Alex Edler to a one-year, $3.5 million contract.

Boston Bruins sign forward Erik Haula to a two-year, $4.75 million contract ($2.375 million AAV).

Carolina Hurricanes sign defenseman Ian Cole to a one-year, $2.9 million contract.

San Jose Sharks sign center Nick Bonino to a two-year, $4.1 million contract ($2.05 million AAV).

SIGNINGS (UPDATED 1:30 PM ET)

Nashville Predators re-sign forward Mikael Granlund to a four-year, $20 million contract ($5 million AAV).

Minnesota Wild sign defenseman Alex Goligoski to a one-year, $5 million contract.

Calgary Flames sign forward Blake Coleman to a six-year, $29.4 million contract ($4.9 million AAV).

Carolina Hurricanes sign goalie Frederik Andersen to a two-year deal worth $4.5 million AAV.

Columbus Blue Jackets re-sign Boone Jenner to a four-year $15 million contract ($3.75 million).

New Jersey Devils sign goaltender Jonathan Bernier to a two-year, $8.25 million contract ($4.125 million AAV).

Montreal Canadiens sign David Savard to a four-year, $14 million contract ($3.5 million AAV).

Edmonton Oilers sign defenseman Cody Ceci to a four-year, $13 million contract ($3.25 million AAV).

Vancouver Canucks sign defenseman Travis Hamonic to a two-year, $6 million contract ($3 million AAV).

Columbus Blue Jackets sign forward Sean Kuraly to a four-year, $10 million contract ($2.5 million cap hit)

Vancouver Canucks sign defenseman Tucker Poolman to a four-year, $10 million contract ($2.5 million AAV)

Philadelphia Flyers sign goalie Martin Jones to a one-year, $2 million contract.

Dallas Stars sign Braden Holtby to a one-year, $2 million contract.

Philadelphia Flyers sign defenseman Keith Yandle to a one-year, $950K contract.

SIGNINGS AND TRADES PRIOR TO NOON ET. 

Edmonton Oilers sign Zach Hyman to a seven-year, $38.5 million contract ($5.5 million annual average value).

Edmonton Oilers re-sign defenseman Tyson Barrie to a three-year contract worth $4.5 million per season.

Vegas Golden Knights re-sign defenseman Alec Martinez to a three-year deal worth $5.25 million annually.

Seattle Kraken sign forward Alexander Wennberg to a three-yeae contract worth $4.5 million annually.

Toronto Maple Leafs sign goaltender Petr Mrazek to a three-year contract worth $3.8 million.

Dallas Stars sign defenseman Ryan Suter to a four-year contract worth $3.65 million AAV.

Carolina Hurricanes sign goaltender Antti Raanta to a two-year deal worth $2 million annually.

Vancouver Canucks sign goaltender Jaroslav Halak to a one-year contract worth $1.5 million in base salary.

Carolina Hurricanes sign defenseman Tony DeAngelo to a one-year, $1 million contract.

TRADES

Edmonton Oilers trade defenseman Ethan Bear to the Carolina Hurricanes for winger Warren Foegele.

Ottawa Senators trade winger Evgeni Dadonov to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for Nick Holden and a third-round draft pick in 2022.

Chicago Blackhawks trade defenseman Nikita Zadorov to the Calgary Flames in exchange for a third-round pick in 2022. The pick originally belonged to Toronto.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 27, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 27, 2021

The Panthers re-sign Sam Bennett and trade Anton Stralman to the Coyotes, the Jets re-sign Paul Stastny and acquire Brenden Dillion from the Capitals, the Golden Knights close to re-signing Alec Martinez and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Florida Panthers were busy on Monday. They signed forward Sam Bennett to a four-year deal worth an annual average value of $4.4 million. The club also traded defensemen Anton Stralman and Vladislav Kolyachonok plus a second-round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft in exchange for a seventh-round pick in 2023.

The Florida Panthers re-sign forward Sam Bennett to a four-year deal (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s not surprising the Panthers re-signed Bennett. Slated to become a restricted free agent on July 28, the 25-year-old netted 15 points in his first 10 regular-season games after being acquired at the trade deadline from Calgary. He also had five points in as many playoff games. Bennett should be a key part of their top-two forward lines.

The Stralman trade was a straightforward salary dump by the Panthers. He had a year remaining on his contract worth an annual average value of $5.5 million. The 35-year-old blueliner reportedly had to be convinced to waive his modified no-trade to go to Arizona. He’ll likely become a bargaining chip at next season’s trade deadline if the rebuilding Coyotes are out of playoff contention by then.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets also had a busy day, re-signing center Paul Stastny to a one-year, $3.75 million contract and acquiring defenseman Brenden Dillon from the Washington Capitals in exchange for a second-round pick in 2022 and a second-rounder in 2023.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stastny isn’t the offensive talent he once was. Nevertheless, the 35-year-old should be an affordable short-term answer to their need for a second-line center while management seeks a long-term solution. Dillon will help address a glaring need for reliable stay-at-home depth on their blueline, though the cost of two second-rounders seems a little high.

The Capitals, meanwhile, freed up $3.9 million in annual cap space for the next three seasons. They now have over $12 million in cap room if they call up Martin Fehervary as expected for next season. That gives them some additional wiggle room to re-sign Alex Ovechkin and goaltender Ilya Samsonov.

LAS VEGAS SUN: The Vegas Golden Knights are reportedly close to signing Alec Martinez to a three-year contract extension. The 35-year-old defenseman would receive an annual cap hit close to $5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Martinez proved his worth to the Golden Knights this season, especially in the playoffs where he was their best all-around blueliner. The contract is a bit long for a shot-blocking rearguard of his age but that seems the price the Golden Knights are willing to pay to remain in Stanley Cup contention.

That signing could push them over the $81.5 million salary cap. They could make a cost-cutting trade before the start of next season involving Marc-Andre Fleury or Robin Lehner.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes expected to sign forward Dmitrij Jaskin to a one-year, $3.2 million contract. The 29-year-old spent seven seasons with the St. Louis Blues and Washington Capitals before spending the past two seasons playing for the KHL’s Moscow Dynamo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes have been everyone’s favorite dumping ground for unwanted contracts this summer. General manager Bill Armstrong has been clearing up long-term cap space while restocking with draft picks and prospects.

Most of the contracts he’s taken on have only a year or two remaining, with most belonging to still-serviceable players who could become trade bait to playoff contenders later next season. He also did a great job shedding Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s hefty contract by shipping that off to Vancouver during the recent NHL draft.

THE SCORE: Several notable restricted free agents didn’t receive qualifying offers at yesterday’s deadline. Among them were Boston’s Nick Ritchie, Chicago’s Pius Suter, Edmonton’s Dominik Kahun and Anaheim’s Danton Heinen. They are eligible to become unrestricted free agents on July 28.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Just because they didn’t get qualifying offers doesn’t mean they can’t re-sign with their now-former teams. Sometimes teams don’t offer a QO because they want to sign those players to a more affordable contract. That’s what the Blackhawks did with Adam Gaudette, inking him to a one-year deal worth just over $997K.

TORONTO STAR: Defenseman Zach Bogosian won’t be back with the Maple Leafs. He’s likely headed to an American market via free agency on July 28.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers are expected to sign Patrik Nemeth when free agency opens tomorrow. The Colorado Avalanche allowed the pending UFA defenseman to speak with other teams.

TSN: The New Jersey Devils traded forward Nick Merkley to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for defenseman Christian Jaros. The Devils signed Jaros to a one-year, two-way contract.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers re-signed defenseman Sam Morin to a one-year, $750K contract.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan is expected to be named head coach of the United States’ Men’s hockey team for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 23, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 23, 2021

The 2021 NHL Draft begins tonight at 8 pm ET. Check out all the latest speculation leading up to the start of round one in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BLACKHAWKS STILL TRYING TO LAND SETH JONES

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Chicago Blackhawks are taking another run at acquiring defenseman Seth Jones from the Columbus Blue Jackets without parting with Alex DeBrincat or Kirby Dach in return. It’s believed the Blackhawks are one of the teams that could secure a long-term contract extension from Jones.

Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones (NHL Images).

RECENT RANGERS SPECULATION

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli wonders if the New York Rangers are trying to put together an offer for Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel. They’ve been calling teams that hold a pick in the top-10 in this year’s draft.

In other Rangers speculation, they’ve been trying to move Pavel Buchnevich for some time. Ryan Strome has been linked to the Seattle Kraken. Seravalli wondered if the Vegas Golden Knights might be interested given their need for centers.

The Rangers have sought suitors for backup goalie Alexandar Georgiev with a first-round pick as the asking price. He pondered the possibility of the Rangers attempting to acquire Jonathan Marchessault or Reilly Smith from the Vegas Golden Knights.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks also reported the Rangers are shopping Buchnevich, in part to ensure sufficient long-term cap space. He believes they must find suitable linemates for third-line forward Barclay Goodrow after signing him yesterday to a six-year contract.

TARASENKO COULD STAY IN ST. LOUIS

STLTODAY.COM: Jim Thomas reports Blues GM Doug Armstrong said he can envision a scenario whereby Vladimir Tarasenko returns with the club next season. Armstrong is attempting to fulfill Tarasenko’s trade request but this could be his way of signaling to the Tarasenko camp and the rest of the league that he’s not giving the winger away.

SABRES SET ASKING PRICE FOR REINHART

WGR 550: Elliotte Friedman reports the Buffalo Sabres are receiving plenty of interest in center Sam Reinhart. Their asking price is said to be a first-round pick and a prospect. Reinhart, 25, is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.

LATEST ON THE OILERS

TSN: Darren Dreger reports contract discussions are ongoing between the Edmonton Oilers and winger Zach Hyman but some believe the Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t out of it yet. If the Oilers want that eighth year in Hyman’s contract it will have to be a sign-and-trade with the Leafs.

Dreger also reports they’re continuing to discuss a possible re-signing with defenseman Tyson Barrie. The Oilers, Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks all have interest in Buffalo Sabres blueliner Rasmus Ristolainen.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli wonders if the Oilers could be a dark horse candidate for Carolina Hurricanes free-agent defenseman Dougie Hamilton. They’re expected to clear cap space by buying out James Neal and there’s talk of moving winger Zack Kassian. He’s also not sold on Ethan Bear being in Edmonton for the long haul.

IN OTHER RUMORS…

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Tampa Bay Lightning are once again trying to trade winger Tyler Johnson. He has three years left on his contract with an annual average value of $5 million and 22 teams on his partial no-trade list.

The Montreal Canadiens have spoken to the Sabres about Rasmus Ristolainen. They could also have some interest in the Lightning’s pending UFA defenseman David Savard if his asking price isn’t too costly. The Habs are looking to plug a hole in their blueline with Shea Weber expected to be sidelined for all of next season and possibly longer.

Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez is mulling a contract offer from the club. He’s slated to become a UFA on July 28.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports free agent Ryan Suter could decide as early as Monday over which team he’ll sign with. The former Minnesota Wild defenseman has drawn interest from the Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers and New York Islanders.

It’s believed the Vancouver Canucks have given Braden Holtby’s representatives permission to speak with other teams about a possible trade.

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz reports hearing San Jose Sharks winger Timo Meier could be in play. He wondered if the New Jersey Devils might be interested in uniting Meier with countryman Nico Hischier.

THE PROVINCE: Canucks GM Jim Benning admitted he’s had teams calling to inquire about defenseman Nate Schmidt. He said he didn’t put Schmidt out there in the trade market nor has the blueliner requested to be dealt.

DAILY FACEOFF: The Carolina Hurricanes are working to find a new home for defenseman Jake Bean. There’s also interest in Hurricanes winger Warren Foegele.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Quick and dirty rumor list today as I prepare for the opening round of the draft this evening. As always, feel free to weigh in with your thoughts on today’s speculation.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 28, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 28, 2021

Could the Golden Knights pursue Jack Eichel? Can they find a way to re-sign Alec Martinez? Should the Penguins try to bring back Marc-Andre Fleury? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WGR 550: During his recent appearance on “The Instigators,” TSN’s Darren Dreger discussed the possibility of the Vegas Golden Knights pursuing Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel with the hosts. Dreger said he’d be surprised if the Golden Knights hadn’t had that discussion with the Sabres. He also said he’s not buying reports suggesting the Columbus Blue Jackets are out of the bidding for the 24-year-old Eichel.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Tom Callahan believes the Golden Knights need a first-line center and have the assets to put together a deal for Eichel. He pointed out they have their first-round pick plus the New Jersey Devils’ second-rounder (36th overall). They also have pieces that can help the Sabres now (Reilly Smith and Chandler Stephenson) and later (Cody Glass). Callahan acknowledged their limited cap space and believes there would have to be further whittling of the roster to make the dollars fit.

Can the Vegas Golden Knights afford to acquire Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel? (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights have a history of making big moves, acquiring core players such as Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty and Alex Pietrangelo via trades and free agency. They could look into the cost of an Eichel trade. However, I don’t think the package proposed by Callahan is sufficient to outbid other teams unless those clubs chicken out and the Sabres get desperate.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Mark Madden suggests the Pittsburgh Penguins attempt to bring back Marc-Andre Fleury. He said the Penguins came close to getting him before this season but the Golden Knights reneged on the deal because ownership got “dewy-eyed” over Fleury’s value to the franchise since its inception in 2017.

Madden believes the Golden Knights would have to absorb part of Fleury’s $7 million cap hit. “The Penguins shouldn’t give more than a third-round pick for a 36-year-old goalie.” He also suggested they try to add a few bigger, older players like Wayne Simmonds, Zdeno Chara, Corey Perry or Eric Staal to affordable short-term contracts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury said he wants to finish his career with the Golden Knights. He’s got a year left on his contract with a 10-team no-trade clause. That doesn’t mean he wouldn’t welcome a return to Pittsburgh but Penguins GM Ron Hextall could have other plans in goal.

THE ATHLETIC: Jesse Granger believes the Golden Knights want to keep Alec Martinez. The 33-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28. It could come down to how much term Martinez seeks on his next contract. Offers of three or more years from rival clubs could be difficult to match.

Granger pointed out Fleury wants to finish his career in Vegas and team owner Bill Foley doesn’t want him traded. The Golden Knights also have to make decisions regarding pending UFAs such as Mattias Janmark and Patrick Brown, as well as Cody Glass’ future following his disappointing performance this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, the Golden Knights have a projected $6.09 million in cap space for next season. Martinez is coming off a six-year deal with an annual cap hit of $4 million. His solid performance throughout this season will draw plenty of interest in the free-agent market. Even if he agreed to accept the same cap hit it would eat up most of their cap room. If they pursue Jack Eichel they won’t have enough to keep Martinez.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 27, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 27, 2021

Marc-Andre Fleury hopes to remain with the Vegas Golden Knights, Alec Martinez played through injury, Canadiens coach Ducharme should return during Stanley Cup Final and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

Marc-Andre Fleury wants to end his playing career with the Vegas Golden Knights and hopes Robin Lehner does too. He said he’s developed a good relationship with Lehner and is proud of what they accomplished this season. The duo combined to win the William M. Jennings Trophy for the fewest goals allowed (124) during this season.

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (NHL Images).

Lehner also said he and Fleury have grown closer, adding it’s been a privilege to play alongside him. Fleury is entering the final season of his three-year contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury surfaced again as a cost-cutting trade candidate following the Golden Knights’ playoff elimination. He has a 10-team no-trade clause, giving the club some flexibility if they wish to shed his $7 million cap hit. Lehner, meanwhile, just completed the first season of a five-year contract.

SPORTSNET: Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez said he played through a broken foot for over a month. He still averaged over 22 minutes per game and has a playoffs-leading 72 shots.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Martinez, 33, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28. That performance will boost his stock in the free-agent market. It could also earn him a new contract with the Golden Knights if they can free up sufficient cap room to re-sign him.

SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme expected to return for Game 3 of his club’s Stanley Cup Final series with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Ducharme’s been in self-isolation following a positive COVID-19 test before Game 3 of the semifinal against the Vegas Golden Knights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some wonder if Ducharme’s return behind the bench could upset the coaching dynamic since the Canadiens advanced to the Final under assistant coach Luke Richardson. They forget it was his coaching that got the Habs to the semifinal in the first place. He’s been in regular contact with his coaching staff and players through videoconferencing between games.

THE ATHLETIC: Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin denied a report claiming contract talks with winger Kirill Kaprizov have gone cold. He said both sides continue working toward a new deal.

TSN: Former Chicago Blackhawks associate coach John Torchetti confirmed a meeting took place during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs to discuss the alleged sexual assault of two of their players. One of those players recently filed a lawsuit against the team alleging he and a team were sexually assaulted by then-video coach Bradley Aldrich.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning owner Jeff Vinik could miss Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final if it goes that far. He’ll be in Rhode Island as his son is getting married the following day.

CBS PITTSBURGH: Former Penguins forward Beau Bennett announced his retirement. A first-round pick of the Penguins in 2010 (20th overall), he spent four seasons (2012-13 to 2015-16) with the organization followed by one with the New Jersey Devils and another with the St. Louis Blues. In 200 NHL games, Bennett tallied 20 goals and 64 points and won a Stanley Cup with the Penguins in 2016.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Bennett in his future endeavors.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 20, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – May 20, 2021

Are big offseason moves in store for the Flames and Kings? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE FLAMES?

SPORTSNET: Eric Francis recently looked at some key offseason questions facing the Calgary Flames following a disappointing season. He wondered if Brad Treliving will return as general manager. While Treliving isn’t afraid to make big decisions, the Flames under his watch have proven incapable of winning when it matters most.

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau (NHL Images).

Francis feels they need an overhaul more than a roster teardown. That could involve winger Johnny Gaudreau, who is a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility. They cannot afford to lose him for next to nothing the way they did when they gave away Jarome Iginla.

The Flames won’t have any limitations on trading Gaudreau until July 28, when his modified no-trade clause kicks in. It won’t be easy trading him in a flat-cap era when his stock has declined.

Francis wondered if the Flames will leave defenseman Mark Giordano exposed in the expansion draft. He also downplayed the possibility of acquiring Jack Eichel from the Buffalo Sabres, pointing out the Flames lack sufficient depth in star players and top prospects to make a competitive pitch.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Changes are coming for the Flames. They have to. They cannot return with the same roster and expect better results.

They could replace Treliving though I suspect if they were thinking of doing so it would’ve happened by now. He’s got two more years left on his contract. They could give him at least one more year to dig his way out of this mess.

Whoever sits in the GM’s chair this summer will have to make one or two moves to shake things up. Moving Gaudreau seems the most obvious move but only if there’s a decent return to be had this summer. Otherwise, it might be best to keep him for next season and see if his trade value improves.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, Flames fans, feel free to offer up your views in the comments section below.

LATEST ON THE KINGS

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Helene Elliott believes Kings GM Rob Blake is on the clock to transform his club into a playoff team. He’s under pressure to use his $20 million in salary-cap space and the young talent he’s accumulated and turn the Kings into a Stanley Cup contender.

Team captain Anze Kopitar and defenseman Drew Doughty last week expressed their hope that Blake will add impact players this summer. Elliott feels he has several paths toward doing so, either via free agency, leveraging assets in trades, or targeting cap-strapped clubs looking to shed salary.

Blake acknowledged Doughty’s comments, adding that making the playoffs next season is a must. He also said this season provided a better understanding of where certain holes in the roster may be and the progression of some of their younger players.

THE ATHLETIC: Lisa Dillman believes adding one or two top-six wingers for Kopitar’s line should be among the Kings’ priorities this summer. They should target clubs that risk losing a quality player to the Seattle Kraken in the expansion draft. Given their prospect depth, Dillman proposed they consider shopping their first-round pick if it remains at eighth overall following the draft lottery.

They could also use some help on the left side of their defense. She suggested checking into the availability of Nashville Predators blueliner Mattias Ekholm or the Carolina Hurricanes’ Jake Bean. Perhaps Vegas Golden Knights pending UFA Alec Martinez might be willing to return to the Kings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blake is sitting in a good position to make a couple of significant additions. The Kings GM has five picks in the first three rounds in this year’s draft plus plenty of promising prospects to draw upon for trade bait. He can also put his cap space to good use in the trade and/or free-agent market.

The trade market could include forwards like Buffalo’s Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart, Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau, and Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetsov and defensemen such as Ekholm, Bean or St. Louis’ Vince Dunn. Free agency could feature Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Boston’s Taylor Hall, Colorado’s Brandon Saad and Tampa Bay’s Blake Coleman.

Finding the right players, however, will be the challenge. The nightmare is wasting assets and valuable long-term cap space on players who fail to move the needle.