Top Metropolitan Division unrestricted free agents

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Brenden Dillon, D, Washington Capitals

Dillon, acquired in a trade with the San Jose Sharks on Feb. 18, played mostly on Washington’s top pair alongside John Carlson. The 29-year-old scored 14 points (one goal, 13 assists) and averaged 19:27 in average time on ice in 69 games with the Sharks and Capitals. A physical presence at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, Dillon ranked fourth among League defensemen with 194 hits. The Capitals would like to re-sign him, but they might not have the space under the NHL salary cap.

Possible landing spots: Capitals, Sharks, Boston Bruins, New Jersey Devils, Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets

 

Jesper Fast, F, New York Rangers

Fast has served the Rangers well in his seven seasons with them as a two-way forward, adroit penalty killer and alternate captain. The 28-year-old scored 29 points (12 goals, 17 assists) in 69 games this season. His 12 goals were one short of his NHL career high in 2017-18 and his 162:35 in shorthanded ice time was most among New York forwards. If Fast isn’t re-signed by the Rangers, he’d be a good fit with a team seeking a character forward to play on its bottom two lines.

Possible landing spots: Rangers, Flyers, Colorado Avalanche, Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers, Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders, Vegas Golden Knights

 

Thomas Greiss, G, New York Islanders

The expected arrival from Russia of Ilya Sorokin, selected in the third round (No. 78) of the 2014 NHL Draft, means the end of Greiss’ time with the Islanders. The 34-year-old alternated starts with Semyon Varlamov for most of the regular season and went 16-9-4 with a 2.74 GAA and .913 save percentage before Varlamov started all but three Stanley Cup Playoff games during New York’s run to the Eastern Conference Final. Greiss’ ability to thrive in a two-goalie system will interest teams looking for a veteran backup who can play 30-plus games.

Possible landing spots: Ducks, Stars, Flyers, Blues, Capitals, Jets, Buffalo Sabres 

 

Braden Holtby, G, Washington Capitals

Though the door remains open a sliver for Holtby to return if he can’t find the right fit on the crowded goalie market, his days in Washington are likely finished with 23-year-old Ilya Samsonov in place to take the No. 1 job. The 31-year-old is coming off a disappointing season when he went 25-14-6 but had the worst goals-against average (3.11) and save percentage (.897) of his 10-season NHL career. The 2016 winner of the Vezina Trophy as the top goalie in the NHL and a 2018 Stanley Cup champion, Holtby will seek a situation where he can play regularly as the clear starter.

Possible landing spots: Capitals, Avalanche, Oilers, Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild, San Jose Sharks

 

Ilya Kovalchuk, F, Washington Capitals

Kovalchuk appeared reinvigorated playing a top-six role with the Montreal Canadiens and scored 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in 22 regular-season games. But the 37-year-old wasn’t as productive in a bottom-six role with the Los Angeles Kings, with nine points (three goals, six assists) in 17 regular-season games before his contract was terminated on Dec. 17. The same can be said for his time with Washington after being acquired in a trade with Montreal on Feb. 23; he scored four points (one goal, three assists) in seven regular-season games for the Capitals and no points, and five shots on goal, in a five-game loss to the New York Islanders in the Eastern Conference First Round. 

Possible landing spots: Bruins, Oilers, Canadiens, Flyers

Video: WSH@NYR: Kovalchuk wires home blistering slap shot

 

Henrik Lundqvist, G, New York Rangers

Lundqvist had the final season on his contract bought out Wednesday, making him an unrestricted free agent after 15 seasons with New York. If the 38-year-old chooses to continue playing in the NHL, he’d likely seek an opportunity to play regularly for a team with a chance at winning the Stanley Cup after failing to win a championship with the Rangers. Competing for playing time with rookie Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev, Lundqvist finished this season with the fewest games (30), starts (26) and wins (10) of his NHL career, going 10-12-3 with a 3.16 GAA, .905 save percentage and one shutout.

Possible landing spots: Avalanche, Stars, Blues, Golden Knights, Capitals, Vancouver Canucks

 

Patrick Marleau, F, Pittsburgh Penguins

During 22 NHL seasons, Marleau has played in 1,723 regular-season games, leaving him 44 shy of Gordie Howe’s NHL record of 1,767. The 41-year-old also continues to chase winning the Stanley Cup for the first time after being traded by the San Jose Sharks to the Penguins on Feb. 24 didn’t go as hoped. Marleau had no points in four games when Pittsburgh lost to Montreal in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers. Marleau ranks 25th in League history with 562 goals and 50th in points with 1,188.

Possible landing spots: Sharks, Oilers, Los Angeles Kings

 

Matt Martin, F, New York Islanders

Martin scored five goals in 22 playoff games after scoring five in 55 regular-season games, but his value to the Islanders goes beyond goal production. Playing on a relentless fourth line with Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck, the 31-year-old helped provide New York with its hard-working identity. Martin was fifth in the NHL during the regular season with 242 hits and had 103 more in the playoffs. But the Islanders might not have the cap space to re-sign him with restricted free agents such as center Mathew Barzal and defensemen Ryan Pulock and Devon Toews due raises.

Possible landing spots: Islanders, Rangers, Sabres, Hurricanes, Blues

Video: NYI@TBL, Gm2: Martin buries feed from Leddy

 

Justin Schultz, D, Pittsburgh Penguins

Injuries limited Schultz to 29 regular-season games in 2018-19 and 46 this season and his production dropped from an NHL career-high 51 points (12 goals, 39 assists) in 78 regular-season games in 2016-17 to a combined 54 points (nine goals, 45 assists) in 138 games during the past three seasons. But it wasn’t that long ago he was a key contributor as a top-four defenseman when Pittsburgh won the Stanley Cup in 2016 and 2017. So the 30-year-old might have value in the right situation for a contending team.

Possible landing spots: Blackhawks, Oilers, Islanders, Kings, Maple Leafs, Capitals

 

Conor Sheary, F, Pittsburgh Penguins

Sheary’s return to Pittsburgh after being reacquired from the Sabres in a trade on Feb. 24 didn’t work out. The 28-year-old scored four points (one goal, three assists) in eight regular-season games for Pittsburgh and two assists in four games in the loss to the Canadiens in the qualifying round. But Sheary’s speed and experience as a two-time Cup winner with Pittsburgh makes him an asset who could come at a less-expensive price. He has scored 150 points (72 goals, 78 assists) in 325 regular-season games and 21 points (six goals, 15 assists) in 61 playoff games during five NHL seasons with Pittsburgh and Buffalo.

Possible landing spots: Devils, Islanders, Oilers, Wild, Arizona Coyotes

 

Sami Vatanen, D, Carolina Hurricanes

Vatanen scored 23 points (five goals, 18 assists) in 47 regular-season games with the Devils before being sidelined with a lower-body injury and being traded to the Hurricanes on Feb. 24. Vatanen wasn’t healthy in time to play any regular-season games for Carolina, but the 29-year-old had three assists in seven playoff games. A proven top-four defenseman who plays in all situations, Vatanen has scored 194 points (45 goals, 149 assists) in 434 regular-season games and 26 points (six goals, 20 assists) in 51 postseason games during eight NHL seasons with the Ducks, Devils and Hurricanes.

Possible landing spots: Hurricanes, Devils, Sabres, Flames, Coyotes, Bruins, Oilers, Maple Leafs, Capitals

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