Top NHL Free Agents 2014: A Look At Hockey’s Top Players In The Offseason

  on March 07 2014 7:33 PM
Ryan Miller Steve Ott St. Louis Blues
New acquired goalie Ryan Miller and forward Steve Ott have made the St. Louis Blues Stanley Cup contenders. Reuters

The upcoming NHL offseason is expected to be an interesting one for many teams.

After the lockout of 2012-2013, the salary cap in 2014-2015 could be as high as $71 million ($7 million more than this season), with a floor that could drop to as low as $52 million.

One team that many expect to be active is the Toronto Maple Leafs. Salary-cap restrictions could make it difficult for the long-suffering team to spend, but Toronto will certainly be among the teams most interested in upgrading their roster.

Many other teams will hope that payroll relief can help them bolster their squad next season. An interesting club to watch will be the New York Islanders, who will move into the Barclays Center in Brooklyn after the 2014-2015 season.

Here is a look at five players who will likely generate the most interest.

Thomas Vanek, Montreal Canadians When Vanek was traded just prior to the trade deadline from the New York Islanders to the Montreal Canadians, he instantly became Montreal’s leading scorer with 53 points this season. He’s in the final year of a $50 million, seven-year contract, and will likely expect a similar deal at the end of the season.

Ryan Callahan, Tampa Bay Lightning Callahan was traded from the New York Rangers to Tampa Bay last week, and one of the main reasons he was dealt was because of his high contract demands. Callahan reportedly asked for a six-year, $39 million deal with a no-trade clause in New York, and he will likely continue pressing for a similar contract at the end of the season with Tampa Bay.

Ryan Miller, St. Louis Blues One of the elite goaltenders in the NHL, Miller was recently traded from Buffalo to St. Louis, and looks to be the final piece to the puzzle to charge a St. Louis playoff run. If he’s able to do that, the Blues will likely extend his contract, which currently pays him $6,250,000 per season.

Marian Gaborik, Los Angeles Kings Gaborik was also traded at the deadline, going from the Columbus Bluejackets to Los Angeles, in hopes of adding some scoring to a struggling Kings’ offense. If all goes well with Gaborik, expect the Kings to offer him a similar salary to his current $7.5 million per-season deal.

Paul Stastny, Colorado Avalanche Stastny has been one of the main contributors to Colorado’s surprisingly successful season, with 20 goals and 27 assists. If Stastny is able to lead the Avalanche to some playoff success, the club may extend his current five-year, $33 million deal.

Anthony Riccobono and an IB Times staff reporter contributed to this report.

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