Next on the NHL agenda will be the Awards Show next Wednesday, followed by the 2015 NHL Draft over the weekend. After that, though, eyes will turn to a slew of players listed as unrestricted free agents.
As it has been since the salary cap was put in place, the free-agent list is slim pickens. Gone are the days of top-flight NHL forwards signing massive contracts with a new team in the first week of July.
This year’s crop of free agents is headlined by defensemen Mike Green and Andrej Sekera, forwards Justin Williams and Drew Stafford, as well as goaltenders Devan Dubnyk and Antti Niemi. It’s not quite Jeremy Roenick and Pierre Turgeon, but it will still be an interesting few days nonetheless.
The most looming question seems to be if Dubnyk and his current team, the Minnesota Wild, can reach a deal before July 1. Although the entire team played Grade-A hockey down the stretch, Dubnyk’s arrival seemed to be what turned the tides in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Locking him into a contract has been a focus for Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher since his team lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in the second round of the playoffs.
Another player who has taken center stage is 2014 Conn Smythe winner Justin Williams. Stanley Cup success has made a mess with the Kings’ cap situation, making it difficult for GM Dean Lombardi to sign any free-agent help, let alone his own right winger. Williams has earned the reputation of being clutch player, something that is a desperate need for many teams. Although he has posted just 78 points in 115 postseason games, Williams is a coveted free agent that could warrant a hefty salary (thanks mostly to a likely bidding war between clubs).
Free-agent news is just a slice of the NHL news pie. Check out what else is going on around the NHL in today’s headlines:
There are some overrated free agents available, according to Bleacher Report. [Bleacher Report]
Are the Wild in danger of overpaying Dubnyk? [Hockey Wilderness]
The Blue Jackets need to focus on improving defense this summer. [Today’s Slapshot]
The Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks are having their parade today. [ABC7 Chicago]
The Devils named their assistant coaches. [CSN Philly]
Smaller players will likely dominate the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft. [CSN New England]
Some new details headline the NHL 16 game. [Gotta Be Mobile]