After a quiet few weeks in the free agent market, Nazem Kadri’s signing spurred new deals for Phil Kessel and Paul Stastny last week.
So, finally, with training camp just a few weeks away, we’re closing in on the end of free agency season.
Most of the top names are already off the board, but here’s a look at 10 names to watch as we enter September.
1. Evan Rodrigues, C, 28
2021-22 cap hit: $1,000,000
One of the best value players last year, Rodrigues had 43 points in 82 games, a career-best campaign after never breaking the 30-point barrier in his career. Sidney Crosby was the center he played with the most, though, and over half his goals came on the power play. Still, you can at least rely on him around the net, and he shouldn’t be too expensive.
2. Sonny Milano, LW, 26
2021-22 cap hit: $1,700,000
He’ll forever be remembered as the guy that capitalized on the Zegras over-the-net passing play. He had a good season and clearly has a ton of skill, so it’ll be interesting to see his value.
3. PK Subban, D, 33
2021-22 cap hit: $9,000,000
Subban may not be the player he once was, but he can still bring good value at the right price. Expect a one-year “prove it” deal for Subban.
4. Sam Steele, LW, 24
2021-22 cap hit: $874,000
Steel couldn’t convert an incredible junior career into NHL success, scoring a career-high 22 points over four seasons with the Ducks. He’s still young, and the skill is clearly there; it might be worth taking a chance here.
5. Sam Gagner, C. 32
2021-22 cap hit: $850,000
Gagner is a known quantity around these parts — inexpensive depth help that can score and does anything asked of him. Edmonton Oilers fans have been begging for the team to sign him in recent weeks, and, hey, it’s not a bad fit, either.
6. Tyler Motte, LW, 27
2021-22 cap hit: $1,225,000
Motte won’t wow you offensively, but his defensive and gritty play makes him a tough depth guy to play against. For a team that needs a hard-working bottom-six forward, Motte can be that guy.
7. Anton Stralman, D, 35
2021-22 cap hit: $5,500,000
Stralman’s cap hit didn’t look that pretty last season, but he still managed over 21 minutes a night on a bad Coyotes team. He likely won’t do that on a contender, but he can still be decent help somewhere.
8. Tyler Ennis, C, 32
2021-22 cap hit: $900,000
Ennis hasn’t played in at least 70 games since 2017-18 and has only done it three times in the past decade. Still, as a mobile, quick-moving forward, Ennis still brings value to teams in need of scoring deep down in the lineup, even if it’s not every night.
9. Daniel Sprong, RW, 25
2021-22 cap hit: $750,000
Sprong had just 20 points last year, but he still had 14 goals with Washington and Seattle. Not too shabby on a league-minimum deal, and after just missing the 15-goal mark two other times in the three years before that, that’s decent scoring in a depth role.
10. Zach Aston-Reese, LW, 27
2021-22 cap hit: $1,730,000
Reese has never been a goal-scorer, but his value as a defensive forward can’t be ignored. Aston can play a physical game, but he has never broken the 10-goal barrier and had a career-high 17 points as a rookie in 2018-19.