The N.H.L off-season is well underway this year and it has already been very busy! We have had lots of trades, the expansion draft, and last but not least the N.H.L entry draft. With that being said, tomorrow marks another very important day in the National Hockey League. It’s the start of free agency. So let’s break down what all 7 Canadian teams are going to do or at least what I think they should do.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Another great season, another disappointing playoffs. The Leafs seem to be built as a regular season team and not a playoff team, and yes there is a big difference. The Leafs are going to be looking to add someone who they know can make a difference when it comes to a playoff push. I’m thinking a forward and a bottom 6 defenceman are what the Leafs ideally need. For the forward, they need to be a strong two-way player who has a physical upside. I think Kyle Palmieri would be a great fit to fill this role. He is a smart two-way player who had a strong playoff with the Islanders and Palmieri’s salary is expected to stay around the same as last year (4.65 million per year). At that salary he is very affordable. For the defenceman, I could see the Leafs targeting Mike Reilly. Mike Reilly is a young player with some potential to become better. He had a solid year last season and could help the Leafs now and in their future.
The Canadiens had a great run making it all the way to the cup finals. However, the Habs now have a very big hole to fill with Shea Weber being done for the year, and he might have to hang up the skates for good. The Canadiens are going to need a top tier defenceman without a doubt. I think the best player for the job available would be Dougie Hamilton. Hamilton plays a very similar style to Shea Weber. He can run a powerplay unit, has a wicked shot, and can use his physical style of play to scare other players. Mind you, he won’t be able to make as big of an impact as Weber but he can most definitely help fill the gap.
The Oilers are in a similar spot as the Maple Leafs. The Oilers have all this top-end talent and they just can’t seem to make it past the first or second round. I don’t think the Oilers will be busy this year with the free-agent market. The Oilers have already made their big splash by picking up Zack Hyman. No this is not a done deal yet, however it is only a matter of time. The Oilers feel Hyman is the missing piece that they need to make a real playoff push.
The Flames had another off season. This team is looking to rebuild and they have started by letting go of Mark Giordano. If I was the Calgary Flames I wouldn’t be making many moves. If they end up making a move I could see the team trying to improve their forward group and Blake Coleman could end up being a really nice fit. He fits their style of play and should be a good fit for their salary cap.
Although the Senators didn’t make the playoffs again, this team made a lot of progress. The Senators seemed to really find their groove after the first 1/4 of the season. This young team is still really starting to show its promise. Mikael Granlund is someone who could end up being a great top 6 forward for this team. Ottawa needs to add more skill and this would be a great way to do it.
The Winnipeg Jets did make it to the second round of the playoffs again, however it was a big disappointment the way they went out. In the past few years the Jets have lost a lot of their key players on the backend. David Savard was a big part of the Lightning and I think he could really help the Jets. He is the right style of defender to make Winnipeg’s backend look a lot better.
The Canucks had a disappointing season last year and seemed to take a big step back. Not making the playoffs was a failure for this team, mind you covid issues really did hurt this team, but they needed to find a way to get more wins. I feel Vancouver needs to try and make a splash to get back to where they were 2 years ago. I think Mike Hoffman would be a great fit for this team. A player who will add some veteran leadership, play strong defence and bring a much needed scoring touch.
Now we wait until July 28th
We can try and guess as much as we want on what players teams should pick up, however we won’t know until after July 28th. This is going to be a very interesting free agency with the salary cap not going up. Teams are trying to figure out who they can afford and who they just can’t afford. And I for one am very excited to see what will happen.