Saturday morning is the literal meaning of “Christmas In July” in the NHL with July 1 being the day that Unrestricted Free Agents can sign elsewhere or with their former teams, and hopefully jump a notch or two in the income tax brackets. T.J. Oshie recently signed an eight-year extension worth $46 million with the Washington Capitals, and Kris Russell re-signed with the Edmonton Oilers on a four-year, $16 million deal. So, with a few of the larger fish now off the market and the NHL Entry Draft over, the rest of the pending UFA’s will be covered here, and then we can start a team-by-team breakdown looking at the upcoming season.
Justin Williams (UFA - Washington Capitals): The three-time Cup winner was brought into Washington to be one of the key pieces in winning their first Cup. Well, neither has happened yet, and Williams is getting a little long in the tooth. Yet the 24 goals he scored this past regular season is the most he’s had since 2006 when he scored 33 goals. Someone will pay to add his experience to their roster, but will it be the Caps again?
Trevor Daley (UFA - Pittsburgh Penguins): Along with teammate Nick Bonino, Daley will test the open market and then allow the Penguins to match or make their offer. Daley may be older, but he has the Stanley Cup winning pedigree and that goes a long way in negotiations. Daley and Ron Hainsey filled in admirably for the once again injured Kris Letang, and Trevor will find employment soon.
Nick Bonino (UFA - Pittsburgh Penguins): Bonino was huge in the Pens' back-to-back Cup winning party in Pittsburgh and will allow them to match offers made.
Michael Stone (UFA - Arizona Coyotes): Not the most swooning name you think of when it comes to free agent defensemen, but this big bodied rearguard can block shots and eat minutes for any team looking to add him. Stone earned $4 million last season and can expect to earn similar numbers this upcoming season regardless of where he plays.
Ryan Miller (UFA - Vancouver Canucks): Coming off a three-year, $18 million deal, Miller is said to be asking for a one-year contract to stay in Vancouver. At 36 years old, Miller is watching the sun set on a very stellar NHL career and should be brought back to the Canucks to also guide Jacob Markstrom down the path of goalie success.
Brian Elliott (UFA - Calgary Flames): After earning rave reviews following his last season in St. Louis, Elliott joined the Flames, and he was often benched in favor of backup Chad Johnson. Elliott will still see plenty of suitors in the upcoming weeks, but with much smaller numbers on those contracts. Winnipeg needs a goalie while Connor Hellebuyck matures, but is Elliott the answer?
We can talk hockey anytime @PolkaPat and you can read more of my thoughts at Fighting Chance Sports.