During the lead-up to NHL free agency opening on Oct. 9, we’re taking a look the top UFAs at each position. Today, we’re focusing on the left wingers who could be targeted most on the open market.
There’s a clear No. 1 and No. 2 here, and after that most of the names are likely to be targeted because of their versatility as depth scoring options.
Note: If you’re looking for players like Mikael Granlund, Erik Haula, Tyler Ennis, and Colin Wilson, they’re listed as centres for the purpose of this by-position exercise. While they suit up on the wing a lot and have had plenty of success doing so, we’ve ranked them at centre due to a combination of their official positional listings according to NHL.com and also took into account their versatility and potential to play down the middle. The same goes for wingers who suit up on either side — we’ll highlight the top right wingers on Thursday.
1. Taylor Hall
2019-20 team: New Jersey Devils + Arizona Coyotes | Age: 28
2019-20 stats: 16G, 36A, 52Pts in 65GP
2019-20 cap hit: $6M
In a forward class filled with depth options up front, Hall is one of a few goal-scorers with the potential to really change the makeup of whichever team signs him up.
Injuries and trade rumours stood in the way of Hall’s attempts to match his Hart Trophy-winning success of 2017-18, which saw him reach career-highs across the board (39G, 54A, 93Pts) during his second season with the Devils. His time in Arizona upon being dealt to the Coyotes was cut short and not as fruitful as both sides hoped.
While he hasn’t explicitly said as much, it feels fairly certain that Hall will be departing the desert in free agency. The winger told reporters earlier in the Coyotes’ off-season that winning is his No. 1 priority when making his decision, and Arizona looks like it might be taking a step back from its win-now mode with new general manager Bill Armstrong at the helm. Armstrong made it clear he’s on the hunt for assets, and trading Hall’s negotiating rights could be a good place to start.
2. Mike Hoffman
2019-20 team: Florida Panthers | Age: 30
2019-20 stats: 29G, 30A, 59Pts in 69GP
2019-20 cap hit: $5.1875M
As far as pure goal-scoring goes, Hoffman is as consistent as they come. He’s coming off his sixth straight season with more than 20 goals. In fact, since his first full-time NHL season with the Ottawa Senators in 2014-15, Hoffman has averaged just over 28 goals a year, with his lowest total coming in 2017-18 with 22 and his highest just one year later when he tallied 36 in his first year in Florida. He hit 70 points for the first time in his career that season, and was almost on pace to match it if not for the 2019-20 campaign being cut short.