We've dispensed with on-ice formalities.

The handshakes were exchanged and the Stanley Cup was paraded.

So, welcome to the point on the hockey calendar when the executive types take over.

A pair of drafts—expansion and entry—take place within the next 10 days and will be followed soon after by the onset of the annual free-agency signing period on July 28, which means activity in 32 corner offices around the NHL will be at a fever pitch for the next several weeks.

Who will stay? Who might go?

And now that we've entered (at least temporarily) the flat-cap era, how much will they make?

The number-crunchers on the B/R hockey team compiled a list of the top half-dozen players who are both due to be unrestricted free agents and likeliest to move—sorry folks, Alex Ovechkin isn't going anywhere—and then took it a step further to suggest where each will wind up and how much cash they might command.

 

Tyson Barrie to the Carolina Hurricanes

The last time free-agency season arrived, Tyson Barrie made a smart bet.

A right-shot defenseman who'd finished a four-year deal paying $5.5 million per year, the then-Toronto Maple Leaf took less money—$3.75 million—for a one-year pact with the Edmonton Oilers and a chance to boost his numbers alongside Connor McDavid on the game's most prolific power play.

It worked. Big-time.

The Oilers once again had the best man-up stats in the league (25.3 percent) and Barrie was a significant contributor, ultimately finishing with more points (48) than any blueliner in the league.

Given its moderate wiggle room under the cap for 2021-22, Edmonton won't be in the running to match the player's escalated price tag this time around.

One team that will be, however, is the Carolina Hurricanes—particularly due to events we'll discuss later in this piece—so go ahead and book the flight to Raleigh and size Barrie up for a red, black and white sweater at a cool $5.75 million per year over five seasons.

 

Blake Coleman to the Dallas Stars

It's a reality of modern championship life.

Once a team wins a title (or two), there's simply no way it can keep all its players.

The Tampa Bay Lightning embraced it while finishing their run to the Stanley Cup earlier this month, insisting they'd take advantage of the opportunity to play together one final time.

And now, the exodus begins.

Winger Blake Coleman has now been a part of two banner-raising teams since a deadline trade from the New Jersey Devils in February 2020, and he's played the final game of a three-year deal he signed in 2018 that paid him $1.8 million per season.