With exactly 10 days to go until Free Agent Frenzy, one name has rocketed up TSN Hockey’s Top 75 list.
That would be Minnesota Wild defenceman Carson Soucy, a Group VI unrestricted free agent. To qualify as a Group VI free agent, a player must be at least 25, played three pro seasons and appeared in fewer than 80 NHL games.
The Wild was painfully close to the games played threshold that would have limited Soucy’s leverage as a restricted free agent. Soucy, 26, needed to skate in a combined 76 career regular season and playoff games (pro-rated from the usual 80 because of the COVID-19 pandemic) for the Wild to retain him as an RFA.
Soucy ended up at 66 combined career games after missing the Wild’s final nine pre-pause games due to injury and then playing four games in the postseason.
As a result, Soucy is now up to No. 19 on the Top 75, as sources say more than a third of the NHL’s teams are hungry to see him hit the market on Oct. 9.
That interest and freedom has increased his price. The belief is Soucy could well land in the $2.5 million to $3 million range on a multi-year deal.
Minnesota remains locked in discussions to keep him and Soucy has expressed his desire to remain with the Wild. He has been here before: Even though Minnesota drafted him in 2013, he had the option to become a UFA after playing all four years at the Univ. of Minnesota-Duluth but chose to sign with the Wild.
The 6-foot-5 pride of small-town Irma, Alta. (pop: 521) netted seven goals – his most in a single season since midget hockey – and seven assists while averaging 15:38 per night over 55 games this season.
Where will The King move his throne?
It’s the end of an era, as the New York Rangers officially announced on Wednesday that they are buying out the final year of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist’s contract – as first reported by TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger on Tuesday.
We’re told the Rangers actually planned the buyout for Sept. 30 to pay homage to a No. 30 that will one day hang from the World’s Most Famous rafters at Madison Square Garden.
Lundqvist will be remembered for being the definition of determination, competitive fire and class on Broadway for more than 15 years. Oh, yes, and his hair and sartorial eye.
All indications are King Henrik wants to continue playing. Where? And what does the five-time Vezina Trophy finalist have left in the tank?
It will likely come down to fit in a backup role. Lundqvist, 38, has more than $100 million in career earnings and will take home $5.5 million this season from the Rangers as part of the buyout.
His agent, Don Meehan, simply told TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun on Wednesday: “To be determined.”
Lundqvist joins the Top 75 at No. 44, below projected starters Jacob Markstrom, Robin Lehner and Braden Holtby, as well as likely platoon goalies Anton Khudobin, Corey Crawford, Thomas Greiss and Cam Talbot.
Lundqvist is in the backup category along with Mike Smith, Brian Elliott and Ryan Miller. Unranked netminders Jimmy Howard and Craig Anderson are also available.
Solid interest in Bobby Ryan
Early indications are that teams have expressed plenty of interest in former Ottawa Senators forward Bobby Ryan, who was bought out of the final two years of his deal last week.
Ryan, 33, debuts at No. 33 on the Top 75 in his first trip to free agency. Since he was bought out, teams are free to engage in discussions with Ryan now, but he is not permitted to sign until Oct. 9.
His perseverance through alcohol addiction earned him the 2020 Bill Masterton Trophy and makes him a character addition to any lineup.
Here is TSN Hockey’s latest Top 75 free agent list with 10 days to go until the Free Agent Frenzy begins on Oct. 9:
Top 75 UFA List
|51||Trevor van Riemsdyk||CAR||RD||29||49||1||8||$2.3M|
|73||Michael Del Zotto||ANA||LD||30||49||2||15||$750K|
Contact Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @frank_seravalli