Well, it\’s currently August 18th. It\’s been almost 50 days since NHL UFAs could sign with other teams. But, there is still some players who haven\’t signed with other teams. The most notable are ex 40 goal scorer Rick Nash, goalies Kari Lehtonen and Steve Mason, forwards Mike Cammalieri and Troy Brouwer, plus defenseman Luca Sbisa. Since they have to sign eventually, here are my predictions to where they will go.
Rick Nash, winger, Dallas Stars
Nash, a 34 year old winger who scored 21 goals and 13 assists for 34 points in 71 games for the Rangers and Bruins last season, is the most notable player left on the market. He has scored 30 goals eight times, including three 40 goal campaigns. The Stars have been in need for a winger in recent years, and added Alex Radulov before the 2017-18 season. This offseason, they\’ve only added 4th liner Blake Comeau. Plus, they regained Valeri Nichushkin, an old star who played in Russia the past two seasons. But, they could still use more, as they are in need for a top six winger. Getting Nash on a 1-2 year deal with a $3-5 million AAV would be ideal.
Mike Cammalieri, winger, Boston Bruins
Cammalieri, a 36 year old who is definitely going to sign with a contender to go cup chasing, led all current UFAs in assists last year with 22 for the Kings and Oilers. A two time 30 goal scorer, Cammalieri would bring veteran presence to the Bruins bottom six, which has 27 year old Chris Wagner as their oldest bottom six player. Cammalieri would certainly accept another one year, $1 million deal.
Luca Sbisa, defensman, Ottawa Senators
Sbisa, one of the youngest players on the market at 28, is a decent top 6 defenseman that I think should be signed by now. At 28, he\’s not at the age where he\’d only go to a contender. Ottawa\’s most experienced left defenseman is Mark Borowiecki, with his 269 career games. Sbisa would be a good fit.
Kari Lehtonen, goalie, Winnipeg Jets
Lehtonen, a 34 year old who had a 2.56 GAA and .912 SV% in 37 games for the Stars last year, is going to have to settle in to a backup role this next season. Winnipeg lost both Steve Mason and Michael Hutchinson, leaving Connor Hellebuyck with just Laurent Brossoit as his backup. WInnipeg is going to be very competitive this next season, and a backup like Lehtonen would help them win some games.
Steve Mason, goalie, Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins experimented with having a formerly bought-out goalie as their backup in Antti Niemi last season. Mason has been solid in his career, but was bought out following a trade to Montreal. He\’s an improvement over Casey Desmith as Matt Murray\’s backup.