In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings we are taking a look at the top unrestricted free agents for the 2021 offseason.
We are separating the players into two groups — The top skaters (forwards and defensemen, which are discussed in the video above) and the top goalies.
Leading the way for the skaters are Alex Ovechkin (who is almost certain to re-sign with his current team), Dougie Hamilton, and Gabriel Landeskog, while the Bruins will have to work out new deals for two-thirds of their newly formed second scoring line.
On the goalie list, Tuukka Rask and Philipp Grubauer lead the way.
Where do the top players land on our NHL Power Rankings?
To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!
1. Alex Ovechkin. Will he ever make it to the unrestricted free agent market? No way. But he is at this point technically an unrestricted free agent so he tops the list. The only question is how much do the Capitals re-sign him for, and for how long. He just finished a 13-year, $124M contract that turned out to be a bargain.
2. Dougie Hamiton. The best defenseman eligible for unrestricted free agency, and also one of the best all-around defensemen in the league. He should have no shortage of suitors if he makes it to market. A team like Philadelphia should be all in here. As should Carolina when it comes to re-signing him.
3. Gabriel Landeskog. Top-line, two-way player that has been a key cog for what has become the most talented team in the league. Given his status as Avalanche captain, and the role he plays next to Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen on the top line, re-signing him would have to be a priority. He will probably not be a bargain anymore.
4. Taylor Hall. For the second year in a row Hall heads to the unrestricted free agent market, and his value is going to be fascinating. He had a brutal season in Buffalo on a one-year deal. He got traded to Boston and looks like the MVP player he was a couple of years ago. Put him in the right situation and he will excel. Boston seems like the right situation.
5. Ryan Nugent-Hopkns. Re-signing Nugent-Hopkins should probably be a priority for the Oilers. Their forward depth after Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl is already bad. They can not afford to lose the one really good player they have beyond them.
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6. Blake Coleman. I know this much: His next contract is going to be a heck of a lot larger than the $1.5M deal he plays on now. Great defensive forward that can score 20 goals and play with a mean streak. The type of player GMs go crazy over, especially in free agency.
7. David Krejci. Krejci can still play and has been great between Hall and Craig Smith. The fact he is entering his age 36 season drops him down the list a little.
8. Jaden Schwartz. When healthy you can comfortably pencil him in for 20 goals and strong possession numbers over an 82-game season. Very good middle-six player.
9. Kyle Palmieri. Very underrated player that is a steady 25-30 goal scorer and very good defensively. Not a player that will change your franchise, but a good contributor for a contender. Only concern is the fact he will be starting his next contract in his age 31 season.
10. Tomas Tatar. One of the best possession drivers in the league with fantastic underlying numbers across the board. Probably a better player than you realize.
11. Brandon Saad. Saad never became an All-Star, but he is a great complementary piece for a contender. Good two-way player that can chip in some offense in a middle-six role.
[Related: Can Avalanche keep Brandon Saad beyond this season?]
12. Zach Hyman. He kind of gets lost in the shadow of Toronto’s superstars, but Hyman has developed into a solid winger that has been scoring at a 25-goal pace per 82 games for three years now.
13. Tyson Barrie. Buyer beware in big letters. Great offensive numbers, but he was playing in a great environment for that with McDavid and Draisaitl and on the best power play in the league. His defensive game leaves a lot to be desired. Do not pay for the point total here.
14. Phillip Danault. His offensive numbers dropped a little this year, but an outstanding defensive forward that can score 10-15 goals. Every team in the league can use a player like that in its bottom six.
15. Paul Stastny. Stastny will be 36 next season but he has not really shown any signs of falling off. Not a top-line center anymore, but if he is skating as your second or third line center you are going to have the start of a strong line.
1. Tuukka Rask. Boston (the fan base, that is) has never fully appreciated what it has had in Rask. For their sake (and the Bruins’ sake), they better hope he re-signs so they do not have to find out the hard way how good they have had it.
2. Philipp Grubauer. You kind of forget about him with all of the All-Stars in Colorado at forward in defense, but he has been an extremely productive goalie when healthy. Not one of the elites, but certainly a goalie you can win with.
3. Chris Driedger. The good news: Driedger has been great when he has played the past two seasons. The concerning news: His sample size in the NHL is 38 regular season games. How bold do you want to be committing to that in free agency?
4. Linus Ullmark. The best case you can make for Ullmark is over the past three years the Sabres are 41-34-11 when he starts. They are 37-70-14 when he does not.
5. Frederik Andersen. During his peak Andersen was a very productive, extremely durable goalie for the Toronto Maple Leafs that consistently took on a heavy workload. He has really started to slow down the past two years though.
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Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.
NHL Power Rankings: Top 2021 unrestricted free agents originally appeared on NBCSports.com