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Frank Seravalli

TSN Senior Hockey Reporter

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The fear of the unknown has pervaded daily life in 2020, and the hockey world is feeling that, too, as the NHL wades into its first off-season in the COVID-19 era with a Free Agent Frenzy unlike any other.

Talk to NHL general managers, agents and even free agents themselves and the truth is that no one knows exactly what to expect. There are more questions than answers, without even a definitive date for the start of next season.

Last year, when Free Agent Frenzy was on Canada Day rather than Thanksgiving weekend, more than $708 million was doled out to 126 players on the first day alone.

Make no mistake: Money will be spent. Trades will be made. Players will be moving. 

It just won’t be exactly like it was before. Teams are expected to be cautious in this brave, new world. The NHL’s salary cap is frozen at $81.5 million for the upcoming season and 2021-22. Damaging contracts are more difficult to move than ever.

It’s possible, if not likely, that Alex Pietrangelo, the premier Stanley Cup winning defenceman who is the No. 1 ranked player in this free agent class, is the only player whose paycheque will be unfazed by the pandemic. He also may not sign on Friday, instead choosing to make a more informed decision with site visits possible in the coming days. He is in no rush.

Former Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall may have to consider a short-term deal if the dollars don’t meet his expectations elsewhere. That would have been unimaginable one year ago. The same goes for defencemen Tyson Barrie and Kevin Shattenkirk, the dueling power-play quarterbacks who round out the Top 10.

The players at the very top of the food chain and the bottom – serviceable players ready to sign for little more than the league minimum and in the $1 million range – will be the most in demand. It’s the players in the comfortable middle class, making more than $3 million and less than $6 million, who could well be squeezed.

Some free agents may be forced to wait days or weeks to find their new home, while others may struggle to stay in the league at all. Some teams, like Columbus and Nashville, have been successful in moving money. Other teams, like Vegas and Tampa Bay, are still trying with the players on TSN's Trade Bait board​.

Take this week’s action as proof. The free agent market was flooded by players who did not receive minimum qualifying offers, a list headlined by Ottawa’s Anthony Duclair, Vancouver’s Troy Stecher and Edmonton’s Andreas Athanasiou.

Then there are free agents who were bought out and paid to go away, their old contracts too rich for a frozen cap world, including Henrik Lundqvist, Bobby Ryan, Kyle Turris, Alex Wennberg and Karl Alzner.

The game of goaltending musical chairs has teams scrambling to secure starters, with Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver all on the hunt after Ottawa became one of the first to lock down their position by acquiring two-time Cup winner Matt Murray from Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

There was a palpable buzz throughout the NHL on Friday morning. But it’s a buzz of nervous energy. A league that has entered Free Agency with so many deals predetermined in prior years is about to engage in a public chess match on live television.

Welcome to a different kind of Free Agent Frenzy. Here are TSN Hockey’s Top 100 Free Agents Available:

 

Top 100 UFAs

 
RK Player Team Pos Age GP G PTS 19-20
1 Alex Pietrangelo STL RD 30 70 16 52 $6.5M
2 Taylor Hall ARI LW 28 65 16 52 $6M
3 Torey Krug BOS LD 29 61 9 49 $5.25M
4 Jacob Markstrom VAN G 30 43 2.75 0.918 $3.67M
5 Mike Hoffman FLA LW 30 69 29 59 $5.19M
6 Tyler Toffoli VAN RW 28 68 24 44 $4.6M
7 Evgenii Dadonov FLA RW 31 69 25 47 $4M
8 Erik Haula FLA C 29 48 12 24 $2.75M
9 Tyson Barrie TOR RD 29 70 5 39 $5.5M
10 Kevin Shattenkirk TBL RD 31 70 8 34 $1.75M
11 Braden Holtby WSH G 31 48 3.11 .897 $6.1M
12 Corey Perry DAL RW 35 57 5 21 $3.1M
13 Mikael Granlund NSH LW 28 63 17 30 $5.75M
14 T.J. Brodie CGY RD 29 64 4 19 $4.65M
15 Anthony Duclair OTT LW 24 66 23 40 $1.65M
16 Anton Khudobin DAL G 34 30 2.22 .930 $2.5M
17 Chris Tanev VAN RD 30 69 2 20 $4.45M
18 Sami Vatanen CAR RD 29 47 5 23 $4.88M
19 Troy Stecher VAN RD 26 65 5 17 $2.33M
20 Corey Crawford CHI G 35 40 2.77 .917 $6M
21 Zdeno Chara BOS LD 43 68 5 14 $2M
22 Andreas Athanasiou EDM RW 26 55 11 26 $3M
23 Wayne Simmonds BUF RW 32 68 8 25 $5M
24 Nick Cousins VGK LW/C 26 65 10 25 $1M
25 Cam Talbot CGY G 33 26 2.63 .919 $2.75M
26 Craig Smith NSH C 30 69 18 31 $4.25M
27 Carl Soderberg ARI C 34 70 17 35 $4.75M
28 Pat Maroon TBL LW 32 64 9 23 $900K
29 Bobby Ryan OTT RW 33 24 5 8 $7.25M
30 Henrik Lundqvist NYR G 38 30 3.16 .905 $8.5M
31 Thomas Greiss NYI G 34 31 2.74 .913 $3.33M
32 Dominik Kahun BUF LW 24 56 12 31 $925K
33 Lucas Wallmark FLA C 24 67 12 25 $675K
34 Kyle Turris NSH C 30 62 9 31 $6M
35 Alex Wennberg CBJ C 26 57 5 22 $4.9M
36 Travis Hamonic CGY RD 30 50 3 12 $3.86M
37 Jesper Fast NYR RW 28 69 12 29 $1.85M
38 Ilya Kovalchuk WSH LW 37 46 10 26 $700K
39 Cody Ceci TOR RD 26 56 1 8 $4.5M
40 Erik Gustafsson CGY RD 28 66 6 29 $1.2M
41 Matt Martin NYI LW 31 55 5 8 $2.5M
42 Kyle Clifford TOR LW 29 69 7 17 $1.6M
43 Vladislav Namestnikov COL LW 27 63 17 31 $4M
44 Justin Schultz PIT RD 30 46 3 12 $5.5M
45 Derek Grant PHI C 30 56 15 25 $700K
46 Tyler Ennis EDM LW 31 70 16 37 $800K
47 Radko Gudas WSH RD 30 62 2 15 $3.35M
48 Derick Brassard NYI C 32 66 10 32 $1.2M
49 Conor Sheary PIT LW 28 63 10 23 $3M
50 Tyler Pitlick PHI RW 28 63 8 20 $1M
51 Tomas Nosek VGK C 28 68 8 15 $1M
52 Trevor van Riemsdyk CAR RD 29 49 1 8 $2.3M
53 Jimmy Vesey BUF LW 27 64 9 20 $2.28M
54 Matt Nieto COL LW 27 70 8 21 $1.98M
55 Michael Frolik BUF RW 32 57 6 14 $4.3M
56 Mike Smith EDM G 38 39 2.95 .902 $2M
57 Jack Johnson PIT LD 33 67 3 11 $3.25M
58 Mark Borowiecki OTT LD 31 53 7 18 $1.2M
59 Mattias Janmark DAL LW 27 62 6 21 $2.3M
60 Jon Merrill VGK LD 28 49 2 7 $1.38M
61 Colin Wilson COL LW 30 9 0 4 $2.6M
62 Mirco Mueller NJD LD 25 50 2 7 $1.4M
63 Mikko Koivu MIN C 37 55 4 21 $5.5M
64 Alex Galchenyuk MIN C 26 59 8 24 $4.9M
65 Carter Verhaeghe TBL LW 24 52 9 13 $700K
66 Cody Eakin WPG C 29 49 5 15 $3.85M
67 Melker Karlsson SJS RW 29 61 6 12 $2M
68 Dominik Simon PIT RW 25 64 7 22 $750K
69 Trevor Lewis LAK RW 33 56 6 12 $2M
70 Ben Hutton LAK LD 27 65 4 16 $1.5M
71 Ryan Miller ANA G 40 23 3.10 .907 $1.13M
72 Luke Schenn TBL RD 30 25 1 3 $700K
73 Andy Greene NYI LD 37 63 2 14 $5M
74 Ron Hainsey OTT RD 39 64 1 12 $3.5M
75 Johan Larsson BUF C 27 62 6 18 $1.55M
76 Michael Del Zotto ANA LD 30 49 2 15 $750K
77 Joakim Nordstrom BOS LW 28 48 4 7 $1M
78 Drake Caggiula CHI LW 26 40 9 15 $1.5M
79 Madison Bowey DET RD 25 53 3 17 $1M
80 Zach Bogosian TBL RD 30 27 1 7 $1.3M
81 Matt Benning EDM RD 26 43 1 8 $1.9M
82 Jan Rutta TBL RD 30 33 1 7 $1.3M
83 Nate Thompson PHI C 35 70 4 15 $1M
84 Malcolm Subban CHI G 26 21 3.17 .890 $850K
85 Aaron Dell SJS G 31 33 3.01 .907 $1.9M
86 Brian Boyle FLA LW/C 35 39 6 15 $940K
87 Karl Alzner MTL LD 31 4 0 0 $4.63M
88 Michael Grabner ARI LW 32 46 8 11 $3.35M
89 Mark Jankowski CGY C 26 56 5 7 $1.68M
90 Evan Rodrigues TOR C 26 45 6 10 $2M
91 Frederik Gauthier TOR C 25 61 7 12 $675K
92 Riley Sheahan EDM LW/C 28 66 8 15 $900K
93 Jimmy Howard DET G 36 27 4.20 .887 $4M
94 Dmitry Kulikov WPG LD 29 51 2 10 $4.33M
95 Josh Leivo VAN RW 27 36 7 19 $1.5M
96 Brad Richardson ARI C 35 59 6 11 $1.25M
97 Mark Pysyk FLA RD/RW 28 58 9 18 $2.73M
98 Derek Forbort CGY LD 28 20 0 1 $2.53M
99 Craig Anderson OTT G 39 34 3.25 .902 $4.75M
100 Patrick Marleau PIT LW 41 66 11 22 $700K
 

Contact Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @frank_seravalli