The quality in this class is definitely a step above most classes when it comes to wingers. Let’s dive in because this list is mostly left-wing loaded.
NHL Unrestricted Free Agent Wingers
5. Kyle Palmieri (New Jersey Devils)
Palmieri hurt himself like few other free agents out there with his poor start early on. He still has three assists in eight games but the forward has missed a half dozen golden opportunities. Hence, he is one of the few wingers out there in a top-six with no goals.
One has to ask if this start is a fluke. The winger is a potential 30-goal scorer annually and yet nothing so far. It is far too odd playing with Jack Hughes and ultimately Nico Hischier when he returns. Maybe the COVID quarantine will give Palmieri the reset he needs.
There was some debate as to include others as an honorable mention. With Palmieri nearing 30, there is some talk he could take a lesser deal to stay with New Jersey. However, every day that goes by is another day of added speculation.
4. Jaden Schwartz (St. Louis Blues)
It will be a hotly contested free-agent offseason because of this one question. Will teams want Schwartz even more with the impending return of Vladimir Tarasenko?
He tallied nine points and two goals on the young season and a solid amount of blocks and shots on goal. The wingers’ production expects to rise with the return of the Russian sniper. St. Louis is just a better team with Tarasenko in the fold and with Schwartz playing on his line.
Schwartz expects to see a bigger payday this summer but will it be from St. Louis or another team? That answer may not be resolved anytime soon with the uncertainty of the pandemic and flat cap.
3. Gabriel Landeskog (Colorado Avalanche)
Now is the time to look at one of the wingers that captains his team. What kind of effect will COVID have on Landeskog? It’s an excellent question. Is he positive or was he just quarantined out of protection? We have seen the effects that COVID has had on Mika Zibanejad. Hopefully, it is not the former.
Sadly, the only problem is how much does one pay for Landeskog? Colorado knows it has a cornerstone player and the surprise is that he has not been extended yet. Maybe, that is coming. However, what if he were to test the market? The chances are very slight.
Colorado extends Landeskog with a seven or eight-year deal well above his current $5.57 million AAV. That seems to be the likelihood but again there is always that chance for other teams.
2. Taylor Hall (Buffalo Sabres)
The Taylor Hall sweepstakes continue on its tour as Hall is one of the top wingers on the market — arguably the top. It looked like he might sign with New Jersey, Edmonton again, or Arizona. Wait, now he is in Buffalo for this season — for now on a one-year, $8 million deal.
The winger knows with the flat cap it will be tougher to see a long-term deal in the AAV he wants. Also, Hall will be 30 at the start of next season — whenever that may be.
Someone will pay Hall but how much? Hall looked healthier playing along with Jack Eichel. He assisted on eight goals while scoring one of his own. Hall generated a ton of opportunities with Buffalo before they were shut down due to COVID. How he bounces back from COVID goes a long way in determining his AAV and term this summer.
1. Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals)
Could one of the top wingers of all time do the unthinkable and test the free-agent market? Again, Alex Ovechkin has more than one league as an option. Most everyone knows there is talk that the Russian could go back home to the KHL. He does have Wayne Gretzky‘s goal record (892) to chase.
What would Washington be willing to pay Ovechkin at this stage of his career? Ovechkin makes just over $9.5 million (well that is his cap hit). The left-winger has gotten off to another nice start with 12 points in eight games (five goals) even despite being quarantined for COVID a couple of weeks ago.
Ovechkin signing a two or three-year deal is not out of the question. However, a one-year contract would not surprise anyone. As for a salary, it almost is up to Ovechkin as Washington owes all of their success to him. If he ever tested the market, that is when the fireworks would begin.