Several of the NHL’s marquee impending free agents were still in negotiations with their respective clubs ahead of Wednesday’s noon opening of the market. Here are the upper-echelon players expected to spark the most interest:
Dougie Hamilton, D, Carolina
Clearly the most attractive blue-line commodity on the market, the 28-year-old, offense-generating righty who finished fourth in the Norris voting is likely to hit the market following lengthy talks with the Candy Canes hierarchy. Leading candidate: The Devils, who seem prepared to give Hamilton a seven-year deal worth $9 million per.
Philipp Grubauer, G, Colorado
If Grubauer leaves, the Kraken are the most likely landing spot. And if that happens, there is every chance the Kraken will trade expansion-draft selection Vitek Vanecek back to the Capitals, from whence he came. Leading candidates: Avalanche, Kraken.
Ryan Suter, D, Minnesota
Bought out at age 36 by the Wild, who had significant locker-room culture concerns about him, Suter is in demand by clubs that fancy themselves contenders. It appears the left defenseman and Dallas are on the road to a deal that might be as long as four years, but the Islanders have been pitching and so, it is believed, are the Bruins. Leading candidates: Stars, Islanders, Bruins.
Phillip Danault, C, Montreal
The 28-year-old shutdown center is the hot item after playing an instrumental role in the Habs’ drive to the Cup finals. Teams who found entry too expensive to join the Jack Eichel sweepstakes may instead turn to Danault, though he doesn’t bring a lot of offense to the equation. Leading candidates: Kings, Rangers, Wild.
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