An early look at the NHL’s UFA class of 2020

The Score

Most marquee names in 2019 unrestricted free agency are off the board, so the majority of offseason excitement is behind us, aside from potential trades, offer sheets, and big-ticket RFA signings.

Without an idea of when said transactions may come, the hockey world doesn't have much to cling to at the moment. With that in mind, we can look ahead to next year, where a deep class of UFAs could make for a very interesting July 1.

Naturally, these players are eligible to sign extensions at any time, and some won't make it to the open market. Still, we can dream of a world where such a star-studded group of players find themselves on the move, so let's dive in.

(Player's age as of July 1, 2020)

Forwards

Taylor Hall, LW, Devils
Age: 28
2019-20 cap hit: $6 million

Hall is the crown jewel of the 2020 class and will have no shortage of suitors if he hits the market. The former MVP made it clear that his priority at this stage of his career is winning, so if the Devils' big offseason moves don't pay off this upcoming campaign, Hall could be good as gone.

Nicklas Backstrom, C, Capitals
Age: 32
2019-20 cap hit: $6.7 million

It's hard to imagine Backstrom anywhere but in Washington feeding Alex Ovechkin one-timers, and it's unlikely the Capitals let him get to next July 1 without an extension. Backstrom is on the back nine of his career but has been so integral to his club's success for so long that it's difficult to imagine the Caps not rewarding him with another lucrative contract.

Mikael Granlund, RW, Predators
Age: 28
2019-20 cap hit: $5.75 million

Granlund is a useful middle-six player at both ends of the ice and would surely draw interest from teams looking to bolster their forward group. He could also see a production spike during his contract year, as he may be slotted onto a line alongside Predators newcomer Matt Duchene.

Mike Hoffman, LW, Panthers
Age: 30
2019-20 cap hit: $5.187 million

Hoffman is one of the NHL's most underrated snipers and would add goal-scoring punch to any lineup at both even strength and on the power play. Since 2014-15, Hoffman ranks 19th among all players in goals, and that's a fantastic way to earn yourself a hefty payday.

Brayden Schenn, C, Blues
Age: 28
2019-20 cap hit: $5.125 million

Centers are always in demand during free agency, and Schenn could be one of the best pivots available next summer. His departure would leave a big hole in the Blues' lineup, so the reigning Cup champs will likely provide him a nice incentive to stay. If he's available, his blend of physicality and offensive touch will attract plenty of bidders.

Chris Kreider, LW, Rangers
Age: 29
2019-20 cap hit: $4.625 million

Kreider has a style of play that coaches, general managers, and fans adore. He's essentially a bowling ball on skates, easily capable of potting 20 goals per season, and is useful in all situations. But with the Rangers' influx of young talent on the wings, Kreider is one of the likeliest candidates to hit the open market.

Charlie Coyle, C, Bruins
Age: 28
2019-20 cap hit: $3.2 million

Coyle looked like a tremendous fit in Boston after being acquired via trade last season, and the Bruins will probably want to keep him in-house as Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci get older. That said, it wouldn't be surprising if an outside team throws a ton of money at the 6-foot-3, two-way center.

Alex Galchenyuk, C/LW, Penguins
Age: 26
2019-20 cap hit: $4.9 million

Galchenyuk is one of the more interesting cases of next summer's crop. Already on his third club, the former third overall pick can choose a team he's comfortable with. His skill set has always been enticing, but the consistency hasn't been there through his first seven seasons. Perhaps a year alongside Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby could help rekindle Galchenyuk's 30-goal form as he looks to boost his stock.

#hockey, #professional

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