With NHL free agency beginning on July 1, it’s an exciting time for all hockey viewers to see where some of the top talents will sign and start a new chapter of their professional hockey careers. Some teams are looking for that one last puzzle piece, and free agency always offers a great glimpse into the direction of an individual franchise.
Without further ado, here are the top five NHL free agents and predictions about where they will sign.
Prediction: Buffalo Sabres
Kane, a Chicago Blackhawk legend, was traded to the New York Rangers at the trade deadline and became one of the final pieces for an all-in push. Unfortunately, his talent did not translate in the Big Apple, but that doesn’t prevent him from being of the premier veterans on this list. Claude Giroux signed a contract with his hometown team in Ottawa last summer, and it’s not a stretch to think that Kane could follow in his footsteps and sign with the Buffalo Sabres. This season, the Sabres are an intriguing team with talents such as Tage Thompson, Alex Tuch, and Rasmus Dahlin rounding out a young but exciting core. With a veteran piece like Patrick Kane on the team, it would be no shocker to think Buffalo could break its 12-year playoff drought.
Prediction: Minnesota Wild
This may be a long shot, but with $8.3 million in cap space, Minnesota feels like a perfectly unusual fit for the star winger. Bertuzzi suffered a degrading season statistics-wise, scoring 30 points in 5o games played. However, come playoff time, he was the best player on the ice for the Boston Bruins. Minnesota’s major problem has come in the playoffs as they have failed to win a playoff series since 2015 and have failed to make a deep run since 2003. With playoff aspirations and a deep prospect pool, Bertuzzi could be a veteran piece to a core that believes it is capable of more than mediocrity.
Prediction: Boston Bruins
After an all-in push that resulted in disastrous failure, the Boston Bruins are left staring into the abyss. With players like Bertuzzi, Dmitri Orlav, David Krejci, and captain Patrice Bergeron all leaving via free agency or retirement, the Bruins must do their best to retool a roster that was once viewed as the greatest of all-time. With center depth looking rather dim, the Bruins need to find a stable, two-way player who can replace Bergeron. Compher has the potential to be that player, especially with the recent cap space the team cleared by trading Taylor Hall. If the Bruins don’t want to commit to a three-to-five-year rebuild, retooling with a veteran prescience is the best option.
Prediction: Seattle Kraken
Dumba had an awful year in both team statics and personal stats. He scored 14 points in 79 games and had 25 defensive zone giveaways. With that said, he is a former top-10 pick, and as a puck-moving, right-handed defenseman, teams will call regardless of talent. Dumba could turn it around with a new team and system, and a young team like Seattle offers a chance for him to thrive as a powerplay quarterback alongside talents like Jordan Eberle and Matty Beniers. Dumba has the skill, but the relationship between Minnesota and the defenseman needs to end. Seattle’s major struggle has been transitioning from defense to offense, and with a right-handed defenseman who isn’t afraid to block a shot, Dumba could have that extra grit to push them over the edge.
Prediction: Chicago Blackhawks
Killorn has battled through it all in Tampa Bay. The two-time Stanley Cup champion has been through the fire and knows what it takes to be a full-time NHLer. With a generational star in Connor Bedard now on the Blackhawks’ roster, they will do everything in their power to surround him with talented players who can help him develop properly. After acquiring Taylor Hall and Nick Foligno from the Bruins, adding a veteran like Killorn will do wonders for a young and elegant Blackhawks squad. It will take some time for the Blackhawk’s identity to form, but Killorn could be a major addition for now and the future of the team.
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