Preds should land top UFA forward: Which teams get the others?
Proven scorers Taylor Hall, Mike Hoffman, Tyler Toffoli and Evgeni Toffoli are all still available in the unrestricted free agent marketplace and the Nashville Predators have the means, motive and opportunity to land one of them
The Predators have more than $14 million of cap space available and they desperately need to upgrade their top two lines.
Hall is considered the top prize in the group, a former No. 1 pick (Edmonton Oilers, 2010) and Hart Trophy winner (2018). He’s fast, skilled and proven, with six seasons in which he scored 20 or more goals. At 28, he’s theoretically in the prime of his career.
The Predators have a connection to Hall because their head coach John Hynes was Hall’s coach in New Jersey when he won the Hart Trophy.
Hoffman is an equally desirable player, particularly for those who are looking for offensive consistency. He doesn’t have as much sparkle to his game as Hall does, but over the past six seasons, Hoffman has never scored fewer than 22 goals and has averaged 28.1 goals per season. He averaged 59 points per season in that span.
In that same period, Hall has averaged 21 goals and 56 points. In fairness, Hall only played 33 games in 2018-19 because of injury.
If Hall, as expected, receives a more lucrative contract, it’s possible Hoffman ends up as the better value signing, based only on production compared to dollars spent.
Toffoli has averaged 22 goals per season over the past six seasons Dadonov has only played full-time in the NHL for three seasons, and has averaged 27 goals in that period.
The Predators are not one of the league's best teams. But they are not rebuilding. They boast a competitive team, led by Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Rosman Josi. They should be able to recruit one the top available scorers.
If the Predators land one of those players, who gets the other three: Here are other teams shopping for forwards:
Boston Bruins: It’s said the Bruins are in on Hall, but if they pay him what he is worth, they wouldn’t appear to have the cap space to re-sign Zdeno Chara (UFA) or Jake DeBrusk (RFA).
Columbus Blue Jackets: GM Jarmo Kekalainen has the cap space necessary to bid on a premium scorer, but he also has to be careful to keep enough space available in case Pierre-Luc Dubois receives an offer sheet. Expect Columbus to get Dubuis re-signed and to sign a scorer.
Philadelphia Flyers: They have $8.6 million in cap space, and they could add more if they deal Shayne Gostisbehere. Would Hall take less to play with a prime contender?
Colorado Avalanche: The Avs have been mentioned as a possible destination for Hall. It would be fun to see him play with Colorado’s offensive talent. But according to CapFriendly.com, the Avs have just under $10 million in cap space and need to sign Tyson Jost. Plus, don’t they they need a defenseman more than they need a forward?
Florida Panthers: It has been reported that they would like to get Hoffman to come back to Florida. Depending upon what Hoffman wants, the Panthers should be able to make him fit in their cap.
New Jersey Devils: Team has $18 million in cap space, but GM Tom Fitzgerald said he doesn't want to commit money long-term. He's building slow and steady.
Vancouver Canucks: The Canucks have about $9 million, but they couldn't work out a deal with Toffoli. Perhaps the two teams will talk again.