As the second round of the playoffs approach and more teams are finding themselves in the offseason, it is time to take a look at a few notable players who will be free agents at the end of the season.
Dougie Hamilton is a 27-year-old defenseman. He is 6-foot-6 inches, weighing in at around 229 lbs. In the 2021 season Hamilton played 55 games in the regular season for the Carolina Hurricanes, scoring ten goals and recording 32 assists. In the six playoff games he has appeared in this season, he has scored one goal and tallied three assists.
Hamilton began his NHL career in the 2012-2013 season in Boston after being drafted ninth overall in 2011. He has since played a total of 607 games, recording 341 total points (106 goals, 235 assists). He also has an excellent career plus-minus rating of +72.
Hamilton has expressed interest in remaining in Carolina next season, but there have not yet been public efforts to re-sign him. Should Hamilton not re-sign with Carolina there are a plethora of teams that could use a defenseman like him. Teams would likely have to offer Hamilton a larger and longer term contract, which may limit the number of teams in contention to acquire Hamilton. Wherever he does chose to sign, he is sure to provide a strong presence on the ice.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is a 28-year-old winger who is currently under contract with the Edmonton Oilers. He 6-foot-1, shoots left and weighs around 184 lbs. Nugent-Hopkins was drafted first overall by the Oilers in 2011 and has since played 656 games, tallying 478 points (185 goals, 293 assists). This season Nugent-Hopkins played 52 games, recording 16 goals, 19 assists and a plus-minus rating of -4.
While Nugent-Hopkins has played the entirety of his 10-year career in Edmonton, there do not appear to be concrete plans to re-sign him. With this in mind, Nugent-Hopkins would be an in demand player on the free agent market. He provides strong offensive presence as well as playing an important role on the Edmonton powerplay and penalty kill. Nugent-Hopkins will likely require a larger contract, with his previous one giving him an annual salary of around $6,000,000, so salary cap constraints may thin the field of teams looking to sign him.
Tyson Barrie is a 29 year-old defenseman. He is 5-foot-11 and weighs around 197 lbs. Barrie began his NHL career with the Colorado Avalanche in the 2011-2012 season. He played the majority of his 610 game career with the Avalanche, leaving for the 2019-2020 season to play in Toronto. Barrie signed a one-year deal with the Oilers in 2020 and played 56 games in the 2021 season. He tallied eight goals and 40 assists with a plus-minus rating of +4.
It appears unlikely that Barrie will return to the Oilers in the 2021-2022 season. He is interested in a longer term contract, but Edmonton leadership does not appear to want to give him one. While Barrie may not be a top performing defenseman, he can provide solid offensive and defensive efforts. He is an older player, so he also could provide some experience to teams with a lot of younger players.
Jamie Oleksiak is a 28-year-old defenseman who is currently under contract with the Dallas Stars. He is 6-foot-7 and weighs around 255 lbs. He was drafted 14th overall by Dallas in 2011. Since then Oleksiak has played 369 games, recording 72 points (24 goals, 48 assists) and a plus-minus rating of -14. In the 2021 season he played 56 games, recording six goals and eight assists.
Oleksiak provides a strong on-ice presence, not only due to his size. It is likely that the Stars will at least make a solid attempt to re-sign him due to his ability to effectively incorporate offense and physicality into his style of play. A new contract for Oleksiak is unlikely to come for cheap be it with Dallas or another team on the free-agent market.