Though were not deep into the playoffs, teams have been watching the NHL free agents market for awhile. Either because of their own free agents, or those who might become available on July 1st.
Teams are allowed to speak with pending unrestricted NHL free agents just before free agency gets underway. The interview period begins five days before the start of free agency, which would be Sunday June 26.
General Managers and management have likely been been watching the Canadian dollar as it tumbled in late 2015 and early 2016. With it bouncing back, it won’t be effecting the salary cap as bad as some initially thought.
If the players use the escalator, the salary cap ceiling could reach $74 million. There was some talk earlier this year that it might remain flat at $71.4 million. Even at $74 million, some teams will have to shed some salary.
The higher cap will be a relief for some teams looking to re-sign their own free agents, and for those wanting to dip into the free agent market.
On July 1st, all eyes will be on Steven Stamkos to see where he will sign – barring he doesn’t re-up with the Tampa Bay Lightning before then. Could he be lured to Toronto, or could Montreal or Detroit be a better fit?
We have included Jimmy Vesey even though he won’t be UFA on July 1st. The 22-year old Hobey Baker will be open to sign with anyone on August 15th.
When formulating our top 10 NHL free agents ranking, we also took into consideration the players age, position, the likelihood of them re-signing with their current team, if they are on the downside of their career, and number of teams that would be interested.
Milan Lucic for example falls down our NHL free agents list due to us thinking that he will be re-signing with the Kings, possibly before the start of free agency.