July 1st is more than just Canada day to NHL sides. To most team GMs, this is their equivalent of Black Friday. With the upcoming Expansion Draft for the Vegas Golden Knights, teams will have to decide who they will protect. The quality of free agents is very high in 2017, so expect rosters to deepen. Though the average age might be around the 30-year mark, any one of these guys has the ability to be essential to a prospective suitor’s success. Or if you’re Vegas, they could help kick start your franchise.
The 28-year-old becomes a free agent this summer. Having impressed during his short time in Washington, demand for this blue liner will be high. Shattenkirk has emerged as a premier player who can go for long shifts. For years he was one of the key ingredients for the St Louis Blues. Now he needs to find a team to build success around. The Caps will no doubt want to lock up him long term, they will have to contend with a flurry of eligible suitors though.
His tenure in Tampa Bay ended this year, and Bishop is unlikely to be re-signed by Kings. Being Jonathan Quick‘s backup is like being Brady’s backup QB in New England, don’t expect frequent playing time. At only 30 years, Bishop still has plenty to offer in net. Vegas is one destination rumoured for ‘Big Ben’ and having this kind of experience would come in useful for a team starting from scratch. One of the NHL’s most underrated gems, Bishop will be an asset anywhere.
A winger who’s good at scoring; Oshie has proven his worth in Washington in 2016-17. Although fellow winger Justin Williams stakes an equal claim, Oshie feels like a safer bet. His hefty salary will likely raise some questions but Oshie has remained a consistent threat. Coming off a 33 goal regular season, the 30-year-old has plenty of bargaining chips. Returning to D.C. will be the probable outcome, but other sides will likely try to tempt him away.
After a successful year of crash and bash play in Montreal Radulov will have piqued interest across the league. The Habs will probably seek to bring him back again and his style gave them an attacking lift. The right winger will have plenty of options as a free agent. Due to leaving Nashville acrimoniously back in 2012, few expected anything but trouble from his NHL return. Radulov showed he still has plenty left in the tank at the highest level.
Seems like old Joe has been starring for San Jose forever and the Sharks will probably be his most likely destination. At 37 he still has another good year left in him at least. His offensive decline was well discussed at the beginning of last year, but he has since rebounded to finish strongly. Who knows, maybe he’ll look to pull a Modano or Alfredsson move and try to win a cup elsewhere in his last year? Though it feels inconceivable him not leading San Jose.
Honourable Mention: Jaromir Jagr
At 45 years old young and still knowing where the net is, Jagr will be back again. Retiring in sunny Florida could be an option, although Vegas might see Jagr as the glue to put their project together.
He’ll have to mullet over.