1 Free-Agent Signing Prediction for Each Atlantic Team

The Hockey Writers

Last week, I wrote the first two pieces of my free-agent signing prediction series, focusing on the Metropolitan Division and the Central Division. In this latest edition of the series, I will be discussing the deep Atlantic Division.

Boston Bruins: Milan Lucic

One has to wonder if the Boston Bruins and Milan Lucic will reunite this offseason. The Bruins are entering the summer with very limited cap space, and their entire fourth line of Garnet Hathaway, Nick Foligno, and Tomas Nosek are all unrestricted free agents (UFA). Thus, the Bruins will need to bring in affordable bottom-six forwards this summer to replace them if they walk. Lucic is unlikely to command much more than a league-minimum deal at this juncture of his career, so now could be the perfect time to bring the former fan favorite back to Boston.

Milan Lucic Calgary Flames
Milan Lucic, Calgary Flames (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Furthermore, it was reported by prominent NHL insider Elliotte Friedman that he heard a rumor that the Bruins considered acquiring Lucic at the deadline before going in another direction. Now that Lucic can be had for a much cheaper price, I would not be surprised in the slightest if he is a Bruin on Opening Night.

Buffalo Sabres: Patrick Kane

The Buffalo Sabres had a successful 2022-23 season. They took a major step in the right direction and barely missed the playoffs. As a result, many believe that they will be a playoff threat in 2023-24, and they are expected to have a busy summer because of it. Signing or acquiring a right-shot defenseman will surely be in the cards for them, but I also think they are going to add a future Hall of Famer to their group this summer – Patrick Kane.

Patrick Kane New York Rangers
Patrick Kane, New York Rangers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Many have wondered if Kane will become a Sabre at some point during his career, as he of course is from Buffalo. Now that they are on the rise and Kane is a free agent, it seems like the perfect time for these two to link up. Kane would provide the Sabres with another top-six forward, and he could be exactly the boost they need to make the playoffs next year. Furthermore, it wouldn’t hurt to have him as a mentor for their younger players, as he is a three-time Stanley Cup champ.

Detroit Red Wings: Matt Dumba

The Detroit Red Wings are going to need to add at least one right-shot defenseman this offseason. Their top four has had a notable hole since they traded Filip Hronek to the Vancouver Canucks. Thus, bringing in a top-four, right-shot defenseman is a real necessity for the Red Wings, and I think they will be the eventual winners of the Matt Dumba sweepstakes because of it.

Matt Dumba Minnesota Wild
Matt Dumba, Minnesota Wild (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

After the Damon Severson sign-and-trade, Dumba is arguably the top right-shot defenseman in this year’s free agency class. He is going to receive a ton of interest in free agency because of this, but when noting that the Red Wings have cap space to work with, I think they can get a deal done with the 28-year-old. If they do, he would immediately be a perfect fit on their second pairing and penalty kill.

Florida Panthers: Shayne Gostisbehere

The Florida Panthers are another team that should be on the hunt for defensemen this offseason. Marc Staal is a pending UFA, while Brandon Montour and Aaron Ekblad will be recovering from shoulder surgery. Thus, Florida would be wise to focus on signing a defenseman, and one player who could make sense for them is Shayne Gostisbehere.


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Gostisbehere has shown over the last few seasons that he can handle top-four minutes and provide strong offensive contributions from the point. In 75 games this season split between the Arizona Coyotes and Carolina Hurricanes, the 30-year-old posted 13 goals and 41 points in 75 games played. The Panthers could use that kind of production from their blueline and a boost on their left side, so don’t be surprised if the Florida native joins the Panthers.

Montreal Canadiens: Pierre Engvall

The Montreal Canadiens are unlikely to make any major splashes in free agency. After all, they are still rebuilding and are likely a few years away from being a legitimate playoff team again. However, that does not mean that they will not look to improve their roster. When noting that their middle six could use a boost, I wonder if a player like Pierre Engvall would make sense for them.

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Engvall is coming off of a decent season split between the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Islanders, posting 17 goals, 30 points, and a plus-8 rating in 76 games. With numbers like these, he would be a solid addition to the Canadiens’ second or third line. Furthermore, his reliable all-around game would make him in the running to receive time on both the club’s penalty kill and power play.

Ottawa Senators: Adin Hill

The Ottawa Senators have a handful of objectives this offseason. Improving the right side of their defensive group and bottom six are needed, but adding a starting goaltender should be their biggest goal. When looking at this year’s free agency class, there are some solid options like Tristan Jarry, Semyon Varlamov, and Joonas Korpisalo. Yet, I could see the rising Senators bringing in Stanley Cup hero Adin Hill this summer.

Adin Hill Vegas Golden Knights
Adin Hill, Vegas Golden Knights (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Hill had a career year at the perfect time for the Vegas Golden Knights this summer and raised his value in the process. He was solid during the regular season, recording a 16-7-1 record, .915 save percentage (SV%), and 2.50 goals-against average (GAA). Yet, he cemented himself as a legitimate starter during the playoffs with his .932 SV% and 2.17 GAA in 16 games. Without Hill, Vegas would not have won the Stanley Cup, so I could see Ottawa making a big push for him on July 1.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Oliver Ekman-Larsson

The Vancouver Canucks made a major decision last week, buying out Oliver Ekman-Larsson. This was a necessary move, as they now have the cap space to make additions to their roster this summer. Furthermore, Ekman-Larsson struggled this past season with injuries and was simply inconsistent. Yet, when noting that he was a top-pairing defenseman not too long ago, I could see a team like the Tampa Bay Lightning bringing him in at a low cap hit.


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The Lightning should look to add a left-shot defenseman this summer, as Ian Cole is a pending UFA. Ekman-Larsson would be a nice replacement for him on the bottom pairing, as he can still produce offensively from the point (22 points in 54 games last season) and would be an option for their power play. Furthermore, he is unlikely to command much on the market, so Tampa Bay stands out to me as a team who will give OEL a one-year, prove-it deal.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Corey Perry

Last month in his 32 Thoughts column, Friedman wrote about the possibility of the Toronto Maple Leafs finally signing Corey Perry. The veteran winger has been linked to the Maple Leafs in the past, and honestly, I think this is the offseason that they bring him in. The Maple Leafs are entering the summer with several bottom-six UFA forwards like Wayne Simmonds, Noel Acciari, David Kampf, and Alex Kerfoot. Therefore, there is room to bring in Perry on a cheap deal.

Corey Perry Tampa Bay Lightning
Corey Perry, Tampa Bay Lightning (Photo by Michael Chisholm/NHLI via Getty Images)

Perry’s days as a top-six forward might be over, but he is still quite effective when utilized in bottom-six minutes. His agitating style of play would be very nice for the Maple Leafs to add to their group, as it would make them more challenging to play against. Furthermore, he can still chip in offensively every so often, as he posted 25 points in 81 games this season with the Lightning.

Alas, it will be fun to see if any of these predictions come to fruition. Who do you see these clubs signing this summer? Share your answers in the comments.

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