One of the NHL's top forwards left on the free agent market found a new home Thursday.
Evgenii Dadonov has signed a three-year, $15 million contract with the Ottawa Senators, the team announced. Dadonov has tallied at least 25 goals in three consecutive seasons and is an effective power play scorer.
With Dadonov and Taylor Hall off the market, Mike Hoffman is without a doubt the best free agent forward remaining.
The Boston Bruins reportedly are among the teams most interested in Hoffman, but as Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reported Thursday on NHL Network, they aren't the only team looking at the available forwards.
"Now Hoffman, I believe, has gone kind of back and forth with Nashville. There was interest in Montreal before (Tyler) Toffoli signed," Friedman said.
"I think Boston, and the two other teams too that have been looking for forwards and have been circling around a lot of the same guys like (Mikael) Granlund, too, have been Carolina and Columbus."
Normally, when the top free agent at a position signs, the floodgates open and the next tier of players quickly find new teams and contracts.
This has not played out in 2020, though.
Instead of contenders rushing to sign the best forwards available after Hall went to the Buffalo Sabres, we've seen very little action in terms of signings over the last few days.
Friedman noted that some players could choose to wait it out even longer and see if the situation changes.
"Now, one thing I was told is that some of these players might just decide to say, ‘OK, I’m pulling back and I’m going to wait for a team to decide it’s going to make me a serious offer. Because maybe the best thing I could do is put pressure on the team and withhold my services,'" Friedman explained.
"So I think these guys are grinding away, I’d hesitate to put a timeline on it, but I think there’s a bunch of teams that are interested, they’re not offering a ton and the players have started to say in a couple of these cases, ‘You know what? I’m going to wait and force some of these teams to come to me.'"
Revenue losses from the COVID-19 pandemic are certainly impacting the free agent market. We haven't seen the same crazy contracts and overall dollars spent that we normally do in free agency.
The 2020-21 season is not expected to start until at least early January, so there's still a few more months for free agents to figure out which teams are the best fit and hope that a few of them become desperate enough to offer more money than they are now.