The unrestricted free agency period for the NHL begins this season on July 28th. There’s not much time for teams to sign players before training camp and the new season begins, so teams will have to work fast to get the players that they have their eye on. By the 28th, the expansion draft for the Kraken will be done, and the players who haven’t been signed by the newest NHL team will be eligible to be dealt at the draft on July 23rd and 24th.
Once the dust settles, general managers will know their cap and roster situations, and will be free to bolster their teams as they see fit. It’s a process. It’s an arduous experience to construct a team, and many times the directions that GMs take is very different than the direction that fans would love for their team to take.
Sometimes, what fans want would be declined by NHL 21’s trade system. It’s disappointing to see other teams trade for or sign the players that you feel is tailor made for the Blues, but there’s a lot that goes into the trying to begin with. Obviously, GMs can’t just sign willy-nilly without any consideration for their team’s structure.
We, though, are not general managers. There’s a time and a place for detailed analysis about a team’s needs, the salary cap, and so on. There’s also a time and a place for a little fun.
CapFriendly has a full list of pending UFAs, and some of the names are surprising if you’re not up to snuff on your contract information. Who will hit the market remains to be seen - it would be shocking to see Alexander Ovechkin test the waters, for example. On the other hand...
When you wade through the aging stars who are considering retirement, you’ll start to see pretty notable names pop up. Many of these guys would suit the Blues’ needs nicely, if we lived in a perfect world where Doug Armstrong could print money. Who would be worth taking a look at?
Obviously, left winger Taylor Hall leads the list, with his former teammate Ryan Nugent-Hopkins not far behind. Hall may be out of the Blues’ price range realistically, but depending on how contract situations fall, Nugent-Hopkins could actually be doable if Jaden Schwartz decides to sign elsewhere.
Colorado may be losing some of the key pieces that helped them dominate the West this season. Brandon Saad and Gabriel Landeskog are both pending UFAs and would make for an upgrade for the Blues on the left side as well. Pending UFA defensemen that the Blues could sniff around include Dougie Hamilton and Tyson Barrie. Barrie, who scored 8 goals and 40 assists is coming off a deal with just a $3.75 million cap hit. He’s in for a raise but that’s a raise that the Blues could afford to pay.
Who we’d like to see the Blues sign and who the Blues actually do sign will be two very different things, but speculation never hurt anyone. Who would you, dear readers, like to see Doug Armstrong sign if he could sign anyone that you’d want? Sound off in the comments.