Free agency begins on Wednesday, July 28 at noon ET (9 PT). Taylor Hall is now removed from lists as he signed a fairly reasonable four-year deal with Boston for $6 million AAV. Here is a look at who I consider the top unrestricted free agents on the market still. All salary cap projections are by Alex MacLean. Players are in no particular order.
Brandon Saad (W) (28-years old, projected $4.23 million AAV)
Saad has been a very consistent player in his nine seasons in the NHL averaging 23.8 goals and 48.1 points per 82 games. He's a solid second-line player on most teams if he provides the production he has. Some concerns from last season, albeit with a very good Colorado team, are his diminishing ice time (almost three minutes less than career), shots on goal (1.5/game with a career average of 2.4 and an unsustainable shooting percentage of 22.1 (he averages close to 12). If a team can get him for $3.5 to 4 million over three or four years, he should be able to provide them with two or three years of 20 goal seasons. If his offense slides, he becomes a bit of a liability, so buyer beware.
Dougie Hamilton (D) (28-years old, projected $9.78 million AAV)
Hamilton has spent nine years in the NHL, spending three seasons in Boston, Calgary and the latest Carolina. Chances are he will spend more than three years in his next stop as there is a very good chance he will sign for six or seven years with his new team. In his past two seasons with Carolina, he has become almost everything an NHL team looks for in a number one defenceman. He's big, shoots and passes the puck well, runs a power play and defends better than most and is only 28 years old. Any team he goes to will need to duplicate what Carolina did and make him the quarterback of the powerplay and use him shorthanded. It is still a crazy contract to consider that he will more than likely fetch around $10 million per year, which rarely works out in the end. He should be good for 15-20 goals, 50-60 points and close to 100 hits and blocks.
Gabriel Landeskog (W) (28-years old, projected 8.56 million AAV)
It appears that Landeskog and the Avalanche might be at an impasse for him to be re-signed and there might be a chance that he moves on. The big question is what can Landeskog do away from the only team he has known for the past 10 seasons? Is he the 34 goal and 75 points Landeskog from 2018-19 or the 18 goals and 33 points in 72 games Landeskog from 2016-17? Probably somewhere in between. Even without MacKinnon and company, I think Landeskog can score his career average of around 0.75 pts/game for around 55-65 points and maintain 20-25 goals. His projected salary puts a lot of emphasis on his leadership attributes over his actual production and I would still be quite surprised if Colorado doesn't re-visit this in the next week.
Jaden Schwartz (W) (29-years old, projected $3.84 million AAV)
In nine NHL seasons with Schwartz has averaged 22.4 goals and 55.9 points per 82 games. The concern is that in two of