Looking ahead at the NHL Unrestricted Free Agent forwards this summer

ryan nugent hopkins
Apr 2, 2021; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) celebrates a second period goal against the Calgary Flames at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

This summer there will be a number of NHL unrestricted free agents, many of them will be top tier players. It’s never too early to start looking at some of the biggest names that will be available. One player that fits the category but isn’t on the list is Alex Ovechkin. He is negotiating his next deal and both sides said they are going to hammer it out after the season.

Now let’s dive in.

Top UFA Forwards heading to NHL Free Agency

Taylor Hall Bruins
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – APRIL 15: Taylor Hall #71 of the Boston Bruins celebrates with Jeremy Lauzon #55 and Patrice Bergeron #37 after scoring a goal against the New York Islanders during the third period at TD Garden on April 15, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins defeat the Islanders 4-1. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Taylor Hall: The 29 year-old winger signed a one-year deal with the Buffalo Sabres this offseason for $8 million. Next summer he will aim for the full 7 year term he couldn’t get in this COVID-19 climate. Hall also used his no move clause to his advantage and got traded to the Bruins at the deadline. My best guess is he’s likely give Boston a slight discount to stay.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: The Edmonton Oilers put another offer on the table to pending UFA Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. It was a 5 year deal that obviously did not move the needle and was turned down. On TSN Insider Trading, Frank Seravalli provided this insight. “At this point these two sides are going to continue talking,” he explained. “I have zero sense that the Oilers are going to move Ryan Nugent-Hopkins at the deadline even without a contract.” The 28 year-old forward remains in Edmonton but there’s a real good chance he hits the open market.

Gabriel Landeskog: There’s always a market for power forwards and ones with leadership skills to boot. The 28 year-old plays the game tough and physical, so wear and tear are a genuine concern. He’ll be coming off a deal that paid him $5.5 million AAV but his 41 points in 41 games this season means a huge pay raise is coming. Will the Avs let him walk? This remains to be seen, but I have a hard time seeing it.

nhl free agents
Gabriel Landeskog (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Jaden Schwartz: The 28 year-old Schwartzis struggling this year with just 14 points in 27 games. He has 60-65 point potential and plays a solid two-way game so there will be interest. Depending on how he performs the rest of the way, he could be had to a similar AAV of $5.35 million.

Brandon Saad: The 28 year-old is having a nice season with the Avalanche with 14 goals and 23 points in 42 contests. He’s coming off a $5 million AAV deal and will certainly will be a desirable add, but I’m not sure the Avs are going to pay him top dollar. He’s destined for a new team.

Nick Foligno: I will make this one simple. Nick Foligno will be a free agent. Nick Foligno will return back to the Blue Jackets this summer.

David Krejci: This Boston Bruins center will be a UFA in 2021 at the age of 35. He can still play as he has 26 points in 38 games this season. Krejci will be coming off a deal that pays him $7.25 million and will get nothing close to that in the flat cap era. Teams looking for a veteran center to play second or third line minutes will do well here as he’s likely heading for a new squad.

Ryan Getzlaf: When this former superstar hits the open market he will be 36 years-old. Getzlaf will also be coming off the last year of a big contract that paid $8.25 million. Just like Krejci he will not see anything close to it, but has immense value. The 6’4″ pivot notched just 16 points in 39 games. I have a feeling he will sign for a bargain to remain in Anaheim.

Ryan getzlaf ducks
Mar 28, 2021; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf (15) celebrates after assisting on a goal by defenseman Cam Fowler (not pictured) during the second period against the St. Louis Blues at Enterprise Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Paul Stastny: Another old center makes his way on this list. Stastny will be 35 when he hits the open market. He will be coming off a deal that paid $6.5 million AAV and will not see anything close to that. He can still be a veteran third line center after scoring 25 points in 44 games so far this year.