We are still far away from 1 July 2016 when players are eligible for unrestricted free agency. We thought we’d bring you the most current list as of 24 Dec 15. Keep in mind those players may resign a contract extension with their current team at any time between now and the deadline date of 1 July 2016.
Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings (29 years old)
Kopitar is one of the top five centers in the world and along with Drew Doughty the dual engines of the Kings. The average annual value on his current contract is $6.8 million, and he’ll receive a significant raise.
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning (26)
Stamkos is one of the two best goal scorers on the planet, and just captained a team to within two victories of the Stanley Cup. He could surpass Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane for the highest AAV in the League, and anything below a max contract would be savings to help the Lightning sign other core players (more on that in a bit).
Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames (33)
Giordano has been one of the top five or six defensemen in the NHL in the past two seasons, and was a potential Norris Trophy/Hart Trophy candidate in 2014-15 until he got hurt. The term on his next contract will be interesting, but the Flames can assemble one of the top defense corps for years to come with Giordano, Dougie Hamilton and TJ Brodie.
Jakub Voracek, Philadelphia Flyers (27)
No. 1 centers and No. 1 defensemen are the most valuable skaters, but Voracek is on the short list for best wing in the NHL. He and Claude Giroux can be a dynamic duo for years to come. Among wings drafted in 2007 or later, Voracek is first in points in the past three seasons with 189 (one more than Kane) and fourth in points per game behind Kane, Jamie Benn and Taylor Hall.
Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg Jets (31)
Byfuglien is fine as a power forward when the Jets have put him there, but he’s an elite defenseman, even if the numbers like his play more than the eyeballs do sometimes. Winnipeg has a lot of young talent on the way and is an emerging contender, but what happens with Byfuglien could be critical for the Jets to make a Stanley Cup run in the near future.
David Backes, St. Louis Blues (32)
One of the best two-way centers in the League, but the Blues’ postseason record has probably kept him from being firmly in a group with guys like Toews and Kopitar. Even if he’s just outside the elite, he’s incredibly valuable and a No. 1 center on many teams.
Eric Staal, Carolina Hurricanes (31)
After eight years of averaging 0.85 points per game or better, he’s slipped to 0.77 and 0.70 the past two seasons. He’ll be 32 early in the 2016-17 season, but his value could get a boost from an improved team around him in 2015-16.
Brent Seabrook, Chicago Blackhawks (31)
While general manager Stan Bowman is still sorting out who to keep and who to trade for next season, Seabrook is the next core player in need of a new contract. Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Seabrook are one of the best trio of defensemen in the NHL, but like the forwards, trying to fit them all in the budget won’t be easy.
Kyle Okposo, New York Islanders (28)
Okposo is an interesting player to monitor. His name was reported as a potential trade candidate before the 2015 NHL Draft. The Islanders have lots of young players who could become frontline guys on a title contender, but Okposo is already such a player. He’s also likely due a hefty raise from his current AAV of $2.8 million.
Andrew Ladd, Winnipeg Jets (30)
One of five captains on this list (Shane Doan is a sixth) who could be UFAs next summer, he can still be a valuable top-six forward and obviously an important member of Winnipeg’s leadership group.
Erik Johnson, Colorado Avalanche (28)
Johnson was having a nice 2014-15 season, and not just because of an inflated shooting percentage, before injury derailed it. He’s not the only key member of the defense corps the Avalanche have to negotiate a contract with.
Alex Goligoski, Dallas Stars (31)
Goligoski has played a lot of minutes in his four-plus years in Dallas, and is an above-average but maybe not elite defenseman. He could be a veteran anchor for an otherwise pretty young defense corps in the coming years for the Stars.
Brian Campbell, Florida Panthers (37)
Campbell went from looking like a huge overpay for the Chicago Blackhawks seven years ago to being properly valued as the cap went up and as advanced stats helped illuminate his worth. His next contract will probably be much shorter in length though.
Milan Lucic, Los Angeles Kings (28)
Now that the Boston Bruins have turned him into a huge haul, the Kings have him for one year at $6 million. He was considered a top power forward, but his production has slipped in two of the past three seasons.
David Perron, Pittsburgh Penguins (28)
His arrival in Pittsburgh started great, but his production cooled as the season progressed. He’s got two of the best centers in the world to play with, which could enhance his value.
Jaromir Jagr, Florida Panthers (44)
He was great as both a mentor and a facilitator for Florida’s group of young forwards after arriving in a trade this past season. He has said he wants to play until he’s 50. If he thinks he can still play in 2016, someone in the NHL will pay him to do so.
Article Courtesy of NHL.com