(National Hockey Now) — It was a less than decisive National Hockey Now round table meeting. Some of the best and most in-tune beat writers from around the NHL spent a few days discussing and predicting where the top unrestricted free agents. The Pittsburgh Penguins didn’t receive much consideration from our panel though the Detroit Red Wings, Ottawa Senators, and LA Kings have a few guessing.
Mike Hoffman is the premier name left on the NHL free-agent market. He popped 29 goals and 59 points in 69 games before the pandemic pause and has filled the net for every team, so he’s not much of a gamble. However, his signing team shouldn’t expect a lot of defense.
This writer thinks Sheng Peng of San Jose Hockey Now nailed it, and Hoffman is a perfect candidate for the Nashville Predators. A couple of others agreed, too.
Though Adrian Dater of Colorado Hockey Now quipped, “Florida. He’ll go back and enjoy the 0% state taxes.”
Sami Vatanen may be the most intriguing defenseman still on the NHL free-agent market and could land in several spots, as evidenced by our beat writers’ predictions, which spanned coast to coast.
Andreas Athanasiou is another player who is looking for work and looking for the right situation. His defensive stats are nothing less than horrible, but he has offensive instincts, elite speed, and youth.
Dater opined, “Buffalo. Seems like a Buffalo type player.”
Our Dan Kingerski countered, “Even though San Jose is talking to Conor Sheary, I would put Athanasiou first. Sheary is a known quantity. I’m not sure Athanasiou has fully matured as a player and could have a lot more to give, on both sides of the puck.”
Anthony Duclair, 25, is an intriguing story, as he fired his agent before free agency and decided to represent himself. Skipping past the lawyer’s saying about those who represent themselves, Duclair has tantalized the NHL with his potential and has recently begun to capitalize. In the last two seasons, he has 19 and 23 goals, respectively. Last season, he reached the 40-point plateau for the first time, too.
He would receive a contract in the $2.5-$3.5 million AAV range under normal circumstances, but these are far from normal times. The group differed wildly on where Duclair will ultimately settle.
“LA. Duclair just seems to fit with the vintage LA vibe. A dash of offense, a dash of power forward, and a little star power potential. Like Jeff Carter, he could be a star there,” Kingerski said. “And, they badly need some offense.”
*If you’re reading on your mobile device, scroll to the right for more names and predictions.
|Mike Hoffman||Travis Hamonic||Anthony Duclair||Sami Vatanen||Andreas Athanasiou||Zdeno Chara|
|Adrian Dater (CHN)|
|Sheng Peng (SJHN)|
|Jimmy Murphy (BHN)|
|Joe Haggerty (BHN)|
|George Richards (FHN)|
|Christian Arnold (NYIHN)|
|Dan Kingerski (PHN)||RETIRE|
Let’s introduce the full panel. Sheng Peng is the rock star in San Jose who has exploded onto the Sharks coverage scene after a few years of covering the Vegas Golden Knights and San Jose in the blogosphere. Adrian Dater and George Richards are a couple of the venerable beats in the National Hockey Now family. Adrian has covered the Colorado Avalanche from the beginning, and George is THE authority on Florida Panthers coverage.
Christian Arnold also jumped across the internet line from the blogosphere to professional coverage for NYI Hockey Now. Joe Haggerty is our latest big-time get. Haggerty is the most followed, and most-read Bruins reporter on the beat. And he’s ours now. Jimmy Murphy is a long-time puck scribe and radio host. No one is more well connected, and he and Kingerski were once back-to-back shows on the NHL Home Ice network on Sirius XM.
We’ll just assume if you’re on Pittsburgh Hockey Now, you know Dan Kingerski, our Editor-in-Chief, who covers the Pittsburgh Penguins and is also one of the most-read writers on the Penguins scene.
Follow PHN and the NHN family for full reports and inside scoops on the NHL free-agents.