NHL Free Agents 2020: Predictions for Top Players Who Will Hit Open Market

Arizona Coyotes left wing Taylor Hall skates to the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Los Angeles Kings Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. The Kings defeated the Coyotes 3-2 in overtime. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

Taylor Hall has plenty of motivating factors to hit the open market when the NHL offseason begins. 

The 28-year-old will likely be the most coveted free agent, and the forward could be more valuable if Alex Pietrangelo and Torey Krug elect to remain with the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins, respectively.

If that occurs, teams with the most salary-cap space or that are Stanley Cup contenders could push more to sign the top skater on the market. 

Braden Holtby could be the most sought after goalie since he may leave Washington and would provide a significant upgrade in net for franchises that have plenty of cap room to work with.

Predictions for Players Who Will Hit Open Market

Taylor Hall

Karl B DeBlaker/Associated Press

Even if the market is affected by the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hall should be sought-after on the open market. 

If the NHL did not expand its playoff field to 24 teams, Hall would have missed out on the postseason for the second straight season. For most of his career, the 28-year-old has not made an impact on the postseason because of the struggles of the Edmonton Oilers, New Jersey Devils and Arizona Coyotes. 

Hall should receive interest from contenders, like the Colorado Avalanche, who will have cap room to work with. 

Colorado is projected to have the fifth-most cap space, which is the most for any Stanley Cup contender. If the Avalanche adds Hall, they could have one of the best sets of premier attackers in the NHL with Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog.  

Hall had an average annual value of $6 million on the seven-year deal he signed in 2013, and even if Colorado signs him to a larger deal, it could add one or two more important assets this offseason.

Prediction: Hall signs with Colorado.

Braden Holtby

Nick Wass/Associated Press

Braden Holtby’s 10-year run with the Washington Capitals will likely come to an end in 2020.

The development of 22-year-old goalie Ilya Samsonov and Holtby’s contract demands could persuade the Capitals to move on from the 30-year-old.

Holtby has played in 22 more games than Samsonov this season, but the younger netminder has a better save percentage and goals-against average. 

Samsonov is also making significantly less than Holtby’s $6.1 million, and the Capitals are not required to pay him more until he becomes a restricted free agent after next season.

Washington may not be able to offer Holtby a deal with $5-6 million annually, but a few other clubs can. Ottawa, Detroit and Buffalo are projected to have the most cap space this offseason, and each could use upgrades in net. 

Holtby could receive a large pay day in those situations, but he might be kept out of the postseason as each of those teams continues to rebuild.

Buffalo has the most promise of those three teams, as it has plenty of young talent on the forward line. If the Sabres land an experienced goalie, they could have a better chance of winning close games and moving up the standings. 

Carter Hutton, who is 34 and split the starting role with Linus Ullmark this season, is the only goalie under contract for next season with Buffalo.

That could give the Sabres motivation to pursue Holtby to provide defensive support for Jack Eichel, Rasmus Dahlin and the rest of their young core.

Prediction: Holtby lands with Buffalo.

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from Hockey ReferenceContract information obtained from Spotrac.

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