Five things to know about NHL free agency

June 30, 2016
FILE- In this Feb. 2, 2016, file photo, Los Angeles Kings' Milan Lucic (17) skates with the puck during an NHL hockey game in Glendale, Ariz. The New Jersey Devils have acquired former No. 1 overall draft pick Taylor Hall from the Edmonton Oilers for defenseman Adam Larsson, which the teams announced Wednesday, June 29, 2016, two days before the start of free agency. The Oliers get salary cap space to possibly sign free agent Lucic with Hall's $6 million annual salary heading to New Jersey. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin. File)

The NHL free agent frenzy will almost certainly include big-money, long-term deals for the likes of wingers Milan Lucic, Kyle Okposo and Loui Eriksson, and produce a trickle-down effect for several other players on the open market.

Here are five things to know about NHL free agency, which opens Friday at noon Eastern time:


The Buffalo Sabres, Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings and the rest of the league that lost the Steven Stamkos sweepstakes to the Tampa Bay Lightning will circle back to new candidates like Okposo, a three-time, 20-goal scorer who’s just 28. No player will benefit more from Stamkos’ $68 million, eight-year deal than Okposo, but Eriksson, Andrew Ladd, Troy Brouwer and David Backes could all sign early after the market opens.


After drafting left wing Jesse Puljujarvi and trading Taylor Hall to New Jersey, the Edmonton Oilers are the heavy favorites to land Lucic, the 6-foot-4 power forward who had 20 goals and 35 assists with the Los Angeles Kings last season. Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli had Lucic in Boston and could add him to a young mix in Edmonton.


Many of the top contenders have so little salary-cap space left to use that they won’t be a major factor, including the Lightning, Presidents’ Trophy-winning Washington Capitals and the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. The Blackhawks are in that group, too, though Florida defenseman Brian Campbell could take a discount to return to Chicago in the hopes of winning another title.


James Reimer is the top goaltending option available, which says a lot about the quantity and quality of the pool. Reimer was a starter at one time for the Maple Leafs and backed up Martin Jones on the San Jose Sharks’ run to the Cup Final. Beyond him are backups.


Because Keith Yandle (Florida Panthers) and Alex Goligoski (Arizona Coyotes) are signed and Campbell has a defined focus for where he wants to go, that leaves Dan Hamhuis, Kris Russell and Jason Demers as the top options. Most GMs know they won’t find a top-four defenseman in this class.

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