On Friday, free agency begins and all players in need of a new contract will be trying to find a new hockey home. Included in the 2020 free-agent class are several big-name players who could soon be wearing unfamiliar jerseys. There are too many players to name specifically, but here are some of the biggest names to watch once free agency begins at 12 p.m. on Friday.
RD Alex Pietrangelo
2019-20 cap hit: $6.5 million
Pietrangelo is the biggest name on the market. He is a recent Stanley Cup champion as he helped lead the St. Louis Blues all the way in 2019 as team captain. Right defensemen are always valuable and Pietrangelo is one of the best in the NHL.
So why are the Blues on the verge of losing their captain? The major holdup is reportedly bonus money. The team does not give bonus money to anyone and does not appear ready to change that stance for Pietrangelo. The flat salary cap also doesn't help, but it certainly appears as if the Blues were preparing for this possibility even before the pandemic as the team traded for another right defenseman, Justin Faulk, and quickly signed him to a seven-year, $45.5 million contract.
LW Taylor Hall
2019-20 cap hit: $6 million
The 2018 Hart Trophy winner is expected to be on the move and it is believed he is open to listening to any and all offers. With the flat cap and a lackluster season, he may not get the superstar contract he may have expected, but that could open the door for a short-term deal where Hall believes he can thrive and build up his value. Imagine him signing with a team like the Colorado Avalanche who have tons of cap room and are a clear Cup contender. Yikes.
The Tampa Bay Lightning
The cap situation for many Cup-winning teams is a house of cards and it will take considerable effort from general manager Julien BriseBois to keep Tampa Bay's cap situation under control. The Lightning are going to have to move someone significant to keep it all together. He may not be a free agent, but Tyler Johnson is the name being floated out there as a potential trade.
Tampa Bay is also a team to watch for possible offer sheets from teams trying to poach their young talent. With the cap situation being what it is, BriseBois may find it difficult to match a qualifying offer for RFAs like Mikhail Sergachev and Anthony Cirelli.
G Jacob Markstrom
2019-20 cap hit: $3.67 million
At long last, Markstrom finally seems to be settling in as a starting goalie...just in time for free agency.
For years, Markstrom was a player who played better than a backup, but not good enough to be an undisputed starter. Now he is considered the best goalie on the market and everyone in need of a No. 1 will likely be lining up in free agency.
Here's the thing to keep in mind with Markstrom. He is 30 and was drafted in the same class as Braden Holtby, a goalie who now seems on the back-slide of his career. Everyone ages differently and perhaps Markstrom could continue playing at a high level for longer, but it will be very interesting to see if any teams out there decide to go very long term on him and if he will be able to live up to that contract if they do.
LD Torey Krug
2019-20 cap hit: $5.25 million
Krug looks like he is headed to the market as the top left defenseman available. This will be a significant blow to Boston's blue line if he leaves, but it's Boston so there is always a chance he could return if he doesn't get what likes on the market.
G Henrik Lundqvist
2019-20 cap hit: $8.5 million
This is a name that should interest Caps fans. Lundqvist was bought out by the New York Rangers as the odd-man out of their triple goalie threat. The veteran netminder was linked to Washington almost as soon as word got out that he was being bought out. Now the Caps are considered the favorites to sign him, but until pen gets put to paper you never know what can happen.
G Anton Khudobin
2019-20 cap hit: $2.5 million
Khudobin came into the bubble as the No. 2 to Ben Bishop, but stole the spotlight when he had to take over for an injured Bishop and led the Dallas Stars to the Cup Final. It will be fascinating to see what happens with him considering that he is 34 and never started more than 41 games in an NHL season, but was absolutely spectacular in the playoffs.
LD Zdeno Chara
2019-20 cap hit: $2 million
It's hard to envision Chara playing anywhere but Boston, but the 43-year-old is still without a contract nearing the start of free agency. Would he even be interested in playing somewhere else to finish his career?