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Free Agent Frenzy: A Look at the 2021 Offseason

Here is a look at next year’s BEARD Hockey free agents and a BOLD prediction on where each of them might land once they hit the open market.

Some of these players could still sign with their respective teams but it’s fun to speculate on tomorrow, especially for those teams with no hope at the playoffs today.

The team with the most to lose is most likely Washington who has four excellent D that could be looking for a new home in Ryan Ellis, Erik Karlsson, Jared Spurgeon, and Alec Martinez in addition to a solid goaltender in Petr Mrazek and two of the top forwards in J.T. Miller and Bryan Rust. The Capitals will have a lot of free cap space but if they don’t retain at least two of the D and one of the forwards they could be in real trouble.

Although Tampa hasn’t had the success this year that Washington did, they also have a lot to lose with three top forwards likely to hit the market in Blake Wheeler, Evander Kane, and Reilly Smith.

Of the teams that can be expected to be real players in free agency the following teams have the least amount committed to the cap:

Capitals: $27M

Wild: $33M

Golden Knights: $35M

Flames: $40M

Lightning: $40M

Bruins: $42M

Kraken: $42M

Blues: $44M

Oilers: $45M

Penguins: $47M

Panthers: $48M

Stars: $51M

Blue Jackets: $52M

Canadiens: $55M

Sabres: $57M

Here are the top players available and a brief prediction of where they will end up.


David Rittich 81 OV (DET): David Rittich will find a new home in Nashville who easily has the worst goaltending in the league. Rittich is young enough to get a long term deal and good enough that Nashville should throw money at him.

Anton Khudobin 81 OV (TBL): Vegas will spend money to upgrade the crease and the second best goalie available will find himself on the Strip.

Petr Mrazek 80 OV (WAS): Washington will try to resign Mrazek but they will be outbid by the Anaheim Ducks who have lost patience with Martin Jones.

Corey Crawford 80 OV (DAL): Crawford is unlikely to remain behind Rask in the Dallas net and will find a nice home in Washington to replace the departing Mrazek.

Braden Holtby 79 OV (EDM): The Minnesota Wild will pay some money for a mentor for Thatcher Demko who has been shell-shocked tis year.

Phillip Grubauer 79 OV (FLA): Florida will resign Grubauer to a relatively cheap deal once the other big names have signed. Their problem hasn’t been in net. More on that later.


Ryan Ellis 79 OV (WAS): Washington will move heaven and earth to re-sign Ellis. He will stay.

Erik Karlsson 79 OV (WAS): Sorry Erik, you are older than Mr. Ellis and will not be returning to the caps as they won’t be able to afford you both. The Golden Knights take a swing on the former Norris winner to try and improve their porous back end.

Matt Niskanen 79 OV (SJS): Nashville signs the former Shark and he immediately becomes their best defenseman.

Alex Goligoski 78 OV (MON): He’s not leaving a good team. Montreal knows they have an open window and will do everything they can to keep their best defenseman.

Jared Spurgeon 77 OV (WAS): Washington will also keep Spurgeon investing heavily in their back end. Retaining Ellis and Spurgeon will be a successful offseason and allow them to remain competitive.

Jake Muzzin 77 OV (TOR): The Bruins will add Muzzy to the blue line where he becomes their best defender.

Brayden McNabb 76 OV (MON): Boston too. A new top pair.

Nate Schmidt 76 OV (ARI): The Coyotes will take a run at retaining Schmidt but in the end the Blues come out of nowhere to shore up their defense.

Brady Skjei 76 OV (BUF): The Kraken have a very average defense and Skjei will get a good contract to help up the average a bit.

John Klingberg 76 OV (CAL): The Flames have the cap space to re-sign their best offensive D man and will do so.

Brent Seabrook 76 OV (CAR): Feels like a Buffalo guy. Don’t know why.

Brendan Dillon 76 OV (SJS): Will also sign with Kraken to give the team a top pair that is tough to play against.

Chris Tanev 75 OV (BUF): Ugly enough to end up in Vancouver.

Cody Ceci 75 OV (DAL): Not sure why, and they don’t seem to have a lot of cap to work with, but he becomes an Islander.

Johnny Boychuk 75 OV (OTT): Washington gets him on the cheap.

Alec Martinez 75 OV (WAS): In a total surprise the Kraken invest heavily on the blue line and get another defender.