Many of the NHL's top unrestricted free agents were signed within hours of this year's free-agent market opening at noon ET on Wednesday. With the salary cap remaining at $81.5 million for the 2021-22 campaign, teams with limited salary-cap space and roster needs to be addressed will have to seek more cost-effective options.
For the frugal general manager seeking affordable talent, several worthwhile players remain available. Teams seeking an experienced scorer could consider former Montreal Canadiens winger Tomas Tatar. Those in the market for blue-line depth could pursue former New Jersey Devils defenseman Ryan Murray.
Here's a look at the five bargain unrestricted free agents your NHL teams should consider signing this summer. Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.
Having skated with the Boston Bruins, Minnesota Wild and San Jose Sharks since 2017-18, Ryan Donato became an unrestricted free agent when the Sharks opted not to qualify his rights. He could be enticing for clubs seeking a middle-six forward with some decent scoring ability.
Donato, 25, showed flashes of offensive flair after being traded to the Wild in 2018-19 with 16 points in 22 games. He tallied 14 goals and 23 points in 62 games the following season but was traded to San Jose in October for a third-round pick in the 2021 NHL draft. He managed 20 points in 50 games for the low-scoring Sharks.
A center who can also skate at left wing, Donato completed a two-year, $3.8 million contract. While consistency is an issue, his scoring bursts could make him a worthwhile short-term option as a power-play specialist. A one-year deal worth around $1.5 million could be a reasonable price for him.
Teams in the market for a reasonably priced all-around forward to skate on their middle six could give Dominik Kahun some consideration. The 26-year-old became an unrestricted free agent when the Edmonton Oilers opted not to tender a qualifying offer.
Debuting with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2018-19, Kahun also skated with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres before joining the Oilers last season on a one-year, $975,000 contract. Slender at 5'11" and 175 pounds, he possesses decent offensive skills, amassing 83 points in 186 career games with those four teams.
Kahun won't break the bank for clubs scouring the free-agent bargain bin for experienced forward depth. His versatility, responsible two-way play and offensive abilities could see him get a one-year deal for around $1 million.