Despite Lack of “All-Out” Frenzy, NHL Free Agency 2020 Proves Interesting


Sporting News

NHL Free Agency 2020, which began on October 9, wasn’t the all-out frenzy it has been in the past.

Carter LaCorte, Freelancer

NHL Free Agency 2020, which began on October 9, wasn’t the all-out frenzy it has been in the past. Among the six top-ranked unrestricted free agents (Alex Pietrangelo, Taylor Hall, Torey Krug, Mike Hoffman, Evegnii Dadonov, and Tyson Barrie), only Krug signed on October 9. At the time of this article’s publication, Hoffman is still available, and Pietrangelo is the only player to have joined a team that made it past the first round of this year’s playoffs.

This year’s market contained many former high-profile goaltenders. While the best options were Jacob Markstrom and Anton Khudobin — both of whom were once fringe-starters — other notable players included former Vezina-winner Braden Holtby and New York Rangers legend Henrik Lundqvist. Markstrom bolted for a six-year deal with the Flames, the Canucks picked up Holtby on a two-year deal, and Lundqvist signed a one-year contract to replace Holtby in Washington.

None of the New York Metropolitan area’s three teams (the Devils, Islanders, and Rangers) made any big signings. The Islanders and Devils both snagged veterans: Stanley Cup-winner Corey Crawford signed with the Devils, and former Devils starter Cory Schneider is set to sign with the Islanders (though this is not yet official). Of the three teams, the Devils have the most valuable acquisition in Andreas Johnsson, who they obtained in a trade with Toronto. The Islanders used the trade market to resolve problems with salary caps; they dealt restricted free agent Devon Toews to Colorado.

The least surprising signing involved the largest financial agreement. Rumor had it that Pietrangelo would leave the Blues for the Golden Knights; this became more likely after Krug went to St. Louis on a six-year deal to earn $6.5 million annually. Knowing that his old team had moved on, Pietrangelo took a trip to Las Vegas and returned with a seven-year, $61.6 million contract.

The Buffalo Sabres, one of the seven teams that missed the playoffs in the 2019–2020, made the most surprising signing. The Sabres took Taylor Hall, one of hockey’s premier left wingers to play with superstar Jack Eichel in a prove-it deal worth $8 million. 

The Ottawa Senators, whose performance is weaker than that of the Sabres (the Senators finished 31st and 30th in the past two seasons), signed their division rival Evgenii Dadonov to a three-year, $15 million deal.

Dadonov’s former teammate, Mike Hoffman, is said to be interested in pursuing a short term deal similar to Hall’s. In that case, any contender with cap space is likely to be interested, as both the Boston Bruins and Nashville Predator —  two suitors for Hall — may be the favorites. Despite coming out of a rough season, Tyson Barrie, the third strongest defenseman on the market, took a one-year deal in Edmonton. If he plays on the power-play with Connor McDavid, he will likely be paid next year. 

Without Hoffman, the market is thin. Anthony Duclair, who was replaced by Dadonov in Ottawa, is the second-best forward, but there remain intriguing options in former Wild players Erik Haula and Mikael Granlund. With regards to defense, former Devils Sami Vatanen and Andy Greene remain, although Greene will likely go back to the Islanders (Greene had a successful postseason run with the Islanders in August and September). Two former Islanders, Travis Hamonic and 6’9”, 43 year old Zdeno Chara are still out there. Even with Hall, Pietrangelo and Krug gone, there is still much money to be spent in this year’s NHL Free Agency.