Top 20 NHL Free Agents and Where They Will Sign


The free agent frenzy is set to begin as the silliest day on the hockey calendar has almost arrived. No day comes close to seeing the same amount of transactions as July 1 every year, and normally, we see our fair share of overspending and huge mistakes as well. Hopefully the Calgary Flames can avoid any blunders with NHL free agents this year.

A year ago at this time, the Flames added one forward, one defenseman and a goaltender to the organization, and regrettably, only one of the three new Flames came close to living up to his new contract.

On July 1, 2014 the Flames signed left winger Mason Raymond to a three year deal with an annual cap hit of $3.125 million. Raymond struggled this season in Calgary, scoring just 12 goals and 23 points in 57 games. Raymond will turn 30 before next season starts, so it is unlikely he bounces back to a top six forward over the course of his contract.

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He also inked defenseman Deryk Engelland to a massive overpayment of three years with a cap hit of $2.9 million. Engelland is barely worth being a number seven defenseman and is being paid like a solid number four. His 11 points in  76 games was no outlier, as his career high in points is just 17. With the Flames added depth on the blue line, Engelland will be lucky to play more than 30 games next season.

Calgary also signed goaltender Jonas Hiller who had played his entire NHL career with the Anaheim Ducks before inking his two year, $9 million dollar deal with the Flames last July. He played well all season for Calgary, helping the team make the playoffs and posting league average stats for a starting goaltender.

Going one for three last summer won’t stop Brad Treliving from adding a few players to round out the roster this shopping season as all GMs get pulled into the madness on July 1. The Flames added a key piece to the blue line in Dougie Hamilton at the NHL Draft, and in my estimation will sign a few depth forwards to bolster depth on the wing, and may even add another defenseman to make a push for the playoffs again next season.

Below is a table where I have ranked the top 20 available players in my mind, and have made my best guess as to where each of the 20 best free agents will sign today. Feel free to sound off in the comments section on where you think the NHL’s top free agents are going to sign.

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As you can see, I envision the Flames adding a right winger in Alex Semin and a defenseman in Johnny Oduya. Not exactly a huge splash in free agency, but Semin could provide a big reward on a short term deal after being bought out by the Carolina Hurricanes.

Semin would become a second line right winger and could fit in well on a line with Mikael Backlund and Sam Bennett. He has a ton of skill, but is coming off a disappointing season where he scored just six goals and 19 points in 57 games. He did score 22 goals and 42 points in 65 games last season and had a point per game in the lockout shortened season.

Mar 8, 2015; Raleigh, NC, USA; Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

On a one year deal at $3.5 – $4 million, Semin could be the steal of free agency. At worst, you have an overpaid winger who will be gone by this time next summer. At best, he clicks on one of the top two lines and could reach 30 goals and 70 points.

Signing Oduya almost seems greedy at this point after landing Hamilton, but you can never have too many good defensemen. Oduya would become the number four defenseman behind Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton and T.J. Brodie, while Kris Russell and Dennis Wideman would become the best third defence pairing in the league.

The Oduya signing comes with the assumption that Ladislav Smid will not be playing next season due to his severe neck injuries. and would push Tyler Wotherspoon down to battle Deryk Engelland for the number seven role. Due to Engelland’s outrageous contract, this would result in Wotherspoon spending much of next season in the AHL.

Semin would fill the Flames biggest role as a scoring right winger for the second line and Oduya would provide extra depth to an already crowded blue line. This would give the Flames two very good scoring lines, and also perhaps the best group of defensemen in the league, with average to slightly above average goaltending in Hiller and Joni Ortio.

Bringing in another top four defenseman and a skilled right winger would really help the Flames avoid the dreaded regression that is being called for, and the ugly comparisons to the Maple Leafs and Avalanche teams of the past would be a thing of the past. This would make the Flames a sure bet to make the postseason once again next year, as they will need the extra depth to hold off the Los Angeles Kings who loaded up as well.

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