Top Central Division unrestricted free agents

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With the NHL free agent signing period set to begin on Oct. 9, the rosters of many NHL teams could change.

Today, NHL.com takes a closer look at the top unrestricted free agents from the Central Division expected to be available when the market opens (listed in alphabetical order):

 

[RELATED: Top Metropolitan Division unrestricted free agents]

 

Dustin Byfuglien, D, Winnipeg Jets

Byfuglien didn’t play this season for the Jets, who terminated his contract April 17. Sportsnet reported Saturday that Byfuglien’s agent, Ben Hankinson, said it’s doubtful he will play in the NHL again. On the unlikely chance Byfuglien decides he wants to play, there would be interest. The 35-year-old has scored 525 points (177 goals, 348 assists) in 869 games with the Chicago Blackhawks, Atlanta Thrashers and Jets. Byfuglien won the Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2010.

Possible landing spots: Edmonton Oilers, Minnesota Wild

 

Corey Crawford, G, Chicago Blackhawks

Crawford has played his entire NHL career with the Blackhawks and helped them win the Stanley Cup in 2013 and 2015. He’s 260-162-53 with a 2.45 goals-against average and .918 save percentage in 488 NHL games (474 starts) and 52-40-0 with a 2.38 GAA and .918 save percentage in 96 Stanley Cup Playoff games (94 starts). After missing 80 games with concussions over the previous two seasons, the 35-year-old was healthy this season and went 16-20-3 with a 2.77 GAA and .917 save percentage. Crawford said in August if he keeps playing, he wants to get the bulk of the starts.

Possible landing spots: Blackhawks, Carolina Hurricanes

 

Dylan DeMelo, D, Winnipeg Jets

Acquired in a trade from the Ottawa Senators for a third-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft on Feb. 18, DeMelo had no points in 10 games with the Jets before the season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus and had no points in four postseason games. The 27-year-old played with Josh Morrissey on Winnipeg’s top defense pair and averaged 21:14 of ice time (21:08 in the postseason). He had 10 points, all assists, in 49 games with the Senators prior to the trade.

Possible landing spots: Jets, Vancouver Canucks, Washington Capitals, Vegas Golden Knights

 

Cody Eakin, F, Winnipeg Jets

Eakin was traded to the Jets from the Golden Knights on Feb. 21 for a conditional pick in the 2021 NHL Draft. He scored five points (one goal, four assists) in eight games with Winnipeg before the season was paused and had no points in four postseason games. He scored 10 points (four goals, six assists) in 41 games with Vegas prior to the trade. The 29-year-old has 237 points (103 goals, 134 assists) in 586 games for the Capitals, Dallas Stars, Golden Knights and Jets. He will be targeted by a team in need of a solid checking-line center.

Possible landing spots: Golden Knights, Canucks, Pittsburgh Penguins

Video: ARI@WPG: Eakin fires backhand past sprawling Kuemper

 

Alex Galchenyuk, F, Minnesota Wild

The Wild acquired Galchenyuk, defenseman prospect Calen Addison and a conditional first-round draft pick (it will be in 2021 NHL Draft) from the Penguins for forward Jason Zucker on Feb. 10. Galchenyuk scored seven points (three goals, four assists) in 14 games for Minnesota before the season was paused and no points in four postseason games. He scored 17 points (five goals, 12 assists) in 45 games with Pittsburgh prior to the trade. Wild general manager Bill Guerin said Sept. 16 that it was unlikely they would re-sign the 26-year-old.

Possible landing spots: Capitals, Golden Knights, Detroit Red Wings

 

Mikael Granlund, F, Nashville Predators

General manager David Poile said Sept. 29 that the Predators would not re-sign Granlund. Nashville acquired Granlund in a trade from Minnesota for forward Kevin Fiala on Feb. 25, 2019. Granlund scored at least 67 points in two consecutive seasons for the Wild (69 in 2016-17, 67 in 2017-18), but he had 35 points (18 goals, 17 assists) in 79 games after the trade and had one assist in four games in the 2020 postseason. The 28-year-old has 352 points (111 goals, 241 assists) in 540 games with the Predators and Wild.

Possible landing spots: Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, Hurricanes, Capitals

 

Mattias Janmark, F, Dallas Stars

Janmark scored 21 points (six goals, 15 assists) in 62 games this season and eight points (one goal, seven assists) in 26 postseason games. The 27-year-old center ranked third among Stars forwards with an average of 1:38 of shorthanded ice time per game. He has scored 109 points (46 points, 63 assists) in 297 games, all with Dallas.

Possible landing spots: Stars, Capitals

Video: DAL@TBL, Gm2: Janmark puts home pass from Klingberg

 

Anton Khudobin, G, Dallas Stars

The 34-year-old took the reins when No. 1 goalie Ben Bishop was unfit to play through most of the postseason, going 14-10 with a 2.69 GAA, a .917 save percentage and one shutout in 25 postseason games (24 starts) to help the Stars reach the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2000. Khudobin was 16-8-4 with a 2.22 GAA and .930 save percentage in 30 games (26 starts) this season. He’s 99-76-25 with a 2.46 GAA, a .919 save percentage and eight shutouts in 218 games (198 starts) with the Stars, Boston Bruins, Anaheim Ducks, Hurricanes and Wild. Although there likely will be many unrestricted free agent goalies on the market, Khudobin should get plenty of attention.

Possible landing spots: Stars, Penguins, Canucks

 

Vladislav Namestnikov, F, Colorado Avalanche

The Avalanche acquired Namestnikov in a trade from the Senators on Feb. 24 for a fourth-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft. The 27-year-old had six points (four goals, two assists) in nine games with the Avalanche before the season was paused. He scored five points (four goals, assist) in 12 postseason games, missing three games with a lower-body injury.

Possible landing spots: Avalanche, Jets, Red Wings

 

Alex Pietrangelo, D, St. Louis Blues

Pietrangelo scored 52 points (16 goals, 36 assists) in 70 games this season and finished fourth in voting for the Norris Trophy as the best defenseman in the NHL. He scored six points (one goal, five assists) in nine postseason games. The 30-year-old has scored 450 points (109 goals, 341 assists) in 758 games, all with St. Louis. It’s hard to imagine Pietrangelo in anything other than a Blues jersey, but it’s looking like a real possibility.

Possible landing spots: Blues, Toronto Maple Leafs, Oilers, Golden Knights, Florida Panthers, Sabres, Devils, Red Wings.

Video: STL@VAN, Gm4: Pietrangelo nets power-play goal

 

Craig Smith, F, Nashville Predators

Poile said Sept. 29 that Smith won’t be returning to the Predators. The 31-year-old scored 31 points (18 goals, 13 assists) in 69 games this season and no points in four postseason games. Smith has scored 330 points (162 goals, 168 assists) in 661 NHL games, all with Nashville. Smith’s agent, Kevin Magnuson, told The Athletic on Sept. 25 that Smith is looking for a three-year contract.

Potential landing spots: Canucks, Devils, Montreal Canadiens, San Jose Sharks

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