Plenty of Big Fish Still Available for Teams to Catch as Free Agency Opens Friday


With Steven Stamkos off of the market when the free agency period opens on Friday, July 1st, there are still some big names out there for teams to pursue.

Stamkos, who was the biggest name out on the market resigned in Tampa Bay, for another eight seasons, on Wednesday shifting the focus to some of the other free agents in the National Hockey League. The free agency period will open on July 1st at 12:00 PM, Eastern Time.

Milan Lucic, might be one of the players the teams entering the free agent frenzy could be looking at. Lucic’s size (six foot three, 233 pouinds) as well as his physical play make him one of the more sort after players on the market.

There are rumors that Lucic and the Edmonton Oilers might have agreed in principle on a contract, but the player has denied those rumors. Teams were able to begin discussions last Saturday, to get an idea on some of the players they are looking at.

In 81 games with the Los Angeles Kings last season, Lucic scored 20 goals and 35 assists. With the fact that the Oilers dealt left winger, Taylor Hall to the New Jersey Devils for defenseman, Adam Larsson, add some fuel to those reports of Lucic and the Oilers.

Lucic is a left wing, Oilers general manager, Peter Chiarelli had him in Boston, while he was general manager of the Boston Bruins. Lucic also was one of the main parts to the Bruins 2011 Stanley Cup Championship team.

Loui Eriksson is another name teams could be looking at come Friday. Chiarelli also had Eriksson in Boston, so that could be one landing point for him.

The 30-year-old right winger is coming off of a 30 goal and 63-point season with the Bruins in 2015-2016. A versatile winger that could help many teams looking for a player of his caliber.

St. Louis Blues captain, David Backes will test the free agent market once it opens on Friday afternoon. This past season he helped lead the Blues to the Western Conference Finals where they fell to the San Jose Sharks.

Backes may also decided to stay with his team, if he can’t find a suitable match elsewhere. Blues general manager, Doug Armstrong has expressed that he would like to keep Backes and allow him to finish his career with St. Louis.

Kyle Okposo will be another name that teams might be going after once the pool opens for the general managers to dive into. Okposo, 28, is from St. Paul, Minnesota and close friends with Minnesota Wild forward, Zach Parise.

Okposo, who made 2.8 million with the New York Islanders last season, should be getting a significant raise on the free agent market this summer.

With the buyout of Thomas Vanek’s contract, the Wild have some salary cap space and need help up front, which could lead to bring Okposo home. The winger had 22 goals and 42 assists in 79 games with the Islanders this past season.

The Wild though, may be looking for a top two center before they look at the wing, as that might be their most important need in the offseason.

At 31, Eric Staal could give some team some veteran leadership, while having something left in the tank to garner top six minutes. Staal wants a defined role on the team, does not have to be the main focus, but would like to play in the middle.

Coming off his worst season, since his rookie year, Staal would like to resurrect his career with whatever team he could be a good fit on. Between the New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes, he scored 13 goals and 26 assists during the 2015-2016 season. Three of those goals came, in the 20 games, after he was traded to the Rangers on February 29.

Frans Nielsson, 32, who has spent 10 seasons with the Islanders could be another veteran that could gain some attention. He has been an underrated center, that has been able to win a lot of his faceoffs in the defensive end.

Andrew Ladd and Troy Brouwer are some character or role players that some teams may be searching for. They have also excelled in the postseason as well.

Mikkel Boedker, 26, has not reached the full potential of what he has been projected to be just yet, but he was the eight overall pick in the 2008 NHL Draft.

On the backend, there is Brian Campbell, Dan Hamhuis, Kris Russell and Jason Demers. All four of those blueliners could very well be top four defensemen on some team. Demers, like Lucic has also been linked to having agreed in principle with the Oilers, but nothing can be made official until Friday at noon.