The NHL equivalent to Black Friday is approaching. On July 1st teams will be scrambling to get their free agents. This year’s options are some of the deepest we have seen for some time. However, some of these players will face tough choices. Two team legends will need to decide to either stay and cement their legacy, or face a new challenge elsewhere. Here are the 4th Line’s top five choices:
It feels weird that Ovi will officially be a free agent this summer. His 13-year $124 million dollar Caps contract has run dry. Word around D.C is that Ovechkin is keen to not be a free agent for long and to re-sign with his beloved team. While most of us could argue this will be the likely outcome, there is still a question mark hanging. Ovi has played for this side since 2004 and despite his cup win in 2018, the Capitals have underachieved frequently. Could he be tempted to play for a cup ready team for one last shot at another title? Time will tell but you can bet that any side will be grateful for a player of this quality.
The Bruins have been less inclined to use Rask during the regular season, Last season saw the rise of third choice Jeremy Swayman which left their fan favourite goalie scrambling for being the second choice with Jaroslav Halak. You sense that Rask’s time at TD Garden is perhaps coming to an end, but Tuuka has made it clear that his preference is to remain a Bruin. A cut-price deal could be on the table but you have to wonder what purpose this will serve? Rask is a goalie with several competitive years left, would be a shame to waste these backing up a younger goalie!
One of Carolina’s most prized assets, Hamilton has emerged as one of the NHL’s most consistent blueliners. Like the other two above, Hamilton is hoping to remain a Canes player. Carolina is finally looking fierce once more after years in the wilderness (plus they have the best Twitter account) and Hamilton has been a key factor in this. Smart money could be on his re-signing but other sides might be willing to put down good money for consistency. According to sources, Hamilton is being allowed to speak with other NHL teams. A potential sign and trade could be on the cards.
Around and around it goes, where’s Hall though? Nobody knows! Once again this guy is a hot topic in the free agency market. Following his ill-advised stint with Buffalo and his then decent form after a trade to Boston, Taylor Hall needs a new home. Winner of the Hart Trophy in 2018, Hall has struggled to live up to that 93 point season since. On his day, he’s one of the elite wingers in the game but will need a good supporting cast. One thing is for sure, he will not be short of suitors as he is a player that adds top 6 depth. Hopefully this time he’ll stay away from any potential dead-end franchises.
The Avs captain is a free agent for the first time in his career. Given his popularity with Colorado fans as his stand-out leadership, you would be hard-pressed to think of him leaving Ball Arena. Joe Sakic has the cap space and it appears that the Avs want to lock him up long term. Though keep in mind that things never always go completely as planned. Remember last off-season and Pietrangelo‘s shock signing with Vegas? A top-line winger and a capable scorer who’s not afraid to get physical? Let’s hope for Carl’s sake that he doesn’t stray away from the Rocky Mountain state!
Here’s to another fun off-season- as Taylor Swift once said “Baby, the games begin!”