NHL Free Agent Rankings: Best Available Players in 2024

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Florida Panthers center Sam Reinhart (13) in the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024, in Denver.
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Michael DeRosa @ Jun 17, 2024, 8:07 AM

Longtime NHL forward Joe Pavelski recently confirmed that he won’t play next season, and that he thinks he is done playing. He was one of the NHL’s top free agents for the 2024 NHL Offseason, but now he is off the board. 

While Pavelski is expected to retire, this year’s free agency class still has some notable names that will generate a lot of interest around the NHL. Because of this, let’s rank the Top 20 unrestricted free agents of the summer now.

NHL Free Agent Rankings

RankPlayerTeamLast Week
1Sam ReinhartPanthers1
2Jake GuentzelHurricanes2
3Steven StamkosLightning3
4Jonathan MarchessaultGolden Knights4
5Brandon MontourPanthers6
6Patrick KaneRed Wings5
7Elias LindholmCanucks7
8Matt DucheneStars8
9Tyler ToffoliJets9
10Brady SkjeiHurricanes10
11Chandler StephensonGolden Knights11
12Brett PesceHurricanes12
13Jake DeBruskBruins13
14Tyler BertuzziMaple Leafs14
15Teuvo TeravainenHurricanes15
16Sean MonahanJets16
17Max DomiMaple Leafs17
18Jonathan DrouinAvalanche18
19Nikita ZadorovCanucks19
20Vladimir TarasenkoPanthers20

1. Sam Reinhart – Panthers 

Sam Reinhart is the top pending UFA. The Panthers’ goal is to get him re-signed before the summer. If he hits the market, he will receive a plethora of interest, as he had a career season. In 82 games this regular season, he had 57 goals and 94 points. He has also been solid in the playoffs, posting nine goals and 15 points in 20 games. 

2. Jake Guentzel – Hurricanes 

The Hurricanes won the Jake Guentzel sweepstakes at the deadline, but it seems likely that he won’t be back there next season. The star sniper is expected to test the market, and the Hurricanes are shopping his signing rights. In 67 games this regular season, he had 30 goals and 77 points. The Blackhawks have been heavily connected to him. 

3. Steven Stamkos – Lightning

Steven Stamkos may be 34 years old, but he is still an elite NHL forward at this stage of his career. He was once again one of the top Lightning players this campaign, posting 40 goals and 81 points in 79 games. The Lightning are working hard to get him signed, but they must free up cap space after acquiring Ryan McDonagh last month. Right now, a return is not guaranteed.

4. Jonathan Marchessault – Golden Knights 

After winning the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2023, Jonathan Marchessault had an excellent 2023-24 season. He is a clutch scorer who may price himself out of Vegas, as he had 42 goals and 69 points in 82 games this campaign. With Vegas re-signing Hanifin, money may be too tight to bring Marchessault back. They are expected to continue talks with him. 

5. Brandon Montour – Panthers 

Brandon Montour is the top right-shot defenseman in the 2024 free-agency class. After a tough start to the season, he has picked up his play and naturally improved his value. Thus, if he hits the market, he will have a plethora of suitors. Some teams to watch include the Maple Leafs, Hurricanes, Senators, and Red Wings.  

6. Patrick Kane – Red Wings

Patrick Kane may have struggled last season, but he bounced back big time this campaign. The future Hall of Famer has shown that he is still a star and should get a big contract this summer because of it. In 50 games with the Red Wings, he had 20 goals and 47 points. He is expected to test the free-agent market after his impressive season.

7. Elias Lindholm – Canucks

Elias Lindholm is one of the top centers that could hit the market this summer. Teams looking for a top-six center who plays a strong two-way game will call. The Bruins stand out as a prime possible landing spot for him if he tests free agency, as they desperately need a first-line center.

8. Matt Duchene – Stars 

After being bought out by the Predators last summer, Matt Duchene has been excellent for the Stars. In 80 regular-season games, he had 25 goals, 65 points, and a plus-15 rating. He also had a huge moment this postseason, scoring the double-overtime winner to knock out the Avalanche. 

9. Tyler Toffoli – Jets

Tyler Toffoli is another impactful top-six forward who has an expiring contract. If he hits the market this summer, he will get a lot of attention, as he is a consistent 30-goal threat. A reunion with the Kings could make sense. 

10. Brady Skjei – Hurricanes 

Brady Skjei is an underrated top-four defenseman who quietly had an excellent season with the Hurricanes. In 80 regular-season games this season, he had 13 goals and 47 points. He was also dominant this postseason, recording one goal, nine points, and a plus-5 rating in 11 games. This will only raise the value of his next deal, but the Hurricanes are determined to get him re-signed.

11. Chandler Stephenson – Golden Knights

Chandler Stephenson is another strong two-way center who could hit the market this summer. He has become a big part of Vegas’ core, as he fits on both special team units and is a consistent 65-point threat. The expectation is that he has priced himself out of Vegas. 

12. Brett Pesce – Hurricanes 

Brett Pesce is another solid top-four defenseman who is a pending UFA. Teams looking for help on their right side and penalty kill will surely target him. The Hurricanes will likely try to extend him, though. If he hits the market, the Maple Leafs, Stars, and Senators should target him.

13. Jake DeBrusk – Bruins 

Jake DeBrusk is a top-six forward in his prime who should land a nice contract this summer because of it. If he hits the market, he will generate plenty of interest. He was also excellent this postseason, leading the Bruins in goals (5) and points (11). As it stands now, the 2015 first-round pick is more likely to become a free agent than stay in Boston.

14. Tyler Bertuzzi – Maple Leafs

Tyler Bertuzzi improved his play as this season went on. As a top-six winger who provides solid offensive production and plenty of grit, he will be a hot commodity if he hits the market. However, the Maple Leafs and Bertuzzi are both interested in getting a new deal done, so he could stay put. It will come down to how much term the Maple Leafs are willing to give him. 

15. Teuvo Teravainen – Hurricanes 

Teuvo Teravainen is another pending UFA forward who should generate a good amount of interest this summer if he hits the market. He quietly had another strong regular season for the Hurricanes, posting 25 goals and 53 points in 76 games. In 11 playoff games, he had two goals and four assists. 

16. Sean Monahan – Jets

Sean Monahan had an outstanding season split between the Canadiens and Jets. In 83 games, he had 26 goals and 59 points. Overall, he displayed that he can still be a very good top-six forward, and he will get paid handsomely this summer. 

17. Max Domi – Maple Leafs 

Max Domi is another notable Maple Leafs player who could hit the free-agent market this offseason. Overall, he became a notable part of Toronto’s roster, so there is a real chance he will get re-signed. Both sides are interested in getting a new deal done. Yet, if he becomes a free agent, he will be a very popular player around the league. Some teams who could look to add him include the Blackhawks, Islanders, and Penguins.

18. Jonathan Drouin – Avalanche 

After an excellent bounce-back season, Jonathan Drouin will receive a nice raise this offseason. The Avalanche are interested in keeping him around, but he may have priced himself out of Colorado due to their limited cap space. In 79 games this year, he had 19 goals and a career-high 56 points. 

19. Nikita Zadorov – Canucks 

Teams looking for a big hard-nosed defenseman are surely to target Nikita Zadorov if he hits the market. The 6-foot-6 defenseman had a strong regular season in 2023-24, recording six goals, 20 points, and 177 hits in 75 games. He is also an outstanding penalty-killer, which adds to his value. Right now, the feeling is that Zadorov will hit the market on July 1. 

20. Vladimir Tarasenko – Panthers

Vladimir Tarasenko is another solid winger who could hit the market this summer. He had a strong regular season, as he had 23 goals and 55 points in 76 games. He is the perfect kind of sniper for teams to add on a short-term deal. 

When Does 2024 NHL Free Agency Start?

The 2024 NHL Free Agency period starts on Monday, July 1, 2024. At 12 p.m. ET, free agents will be permitted to sign contracts with interested clubs. 

Who’s the Best NHL Free Agent in 2024?

With William Nylander signing an extension with the Maple Leafs, Sam Reinhart is now the NHL’s top free agent for 2024. He has been on a real tear this season and producing like a superstar, so he is setting himself up for a massive contract this summer.

What’s the 2023-24 NHL Salary Cap?

The NHL salary cap for the 2023-24 season is $83.5 million. It jumped up by just $1 million from the 2022-23 season, but we are expected to see a more notable increase in 2024-25.

What’s the 2024-25 NHL Salary Cap?

While not set in stone, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman recently shared that the salary cap is expected to go up to $87.7 million for the 2024-25 season. This would be great news, as teams would be gaining more than $4 million of cap space. 

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