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An early look at the NHL's loaded class of 2024 UFAs

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A stagnant salary cap and lack of star power hampered this summer's free-agent frenzy, but a loaded class of 2024 has us looking forward to the NHL's next offseason already.

The cap is expected to jump significantly for the first time since the pandemic dramatically altered the league's financial landscape, and a deep group of star players could make for an unforgettable signing period. Below, we present a list of the top players currently scheduled to hit the open market, fully aware that extensions for most of the stars will likely ruin the fun.

Players are sorted in each positional section based on their current cap hits.


Auston Matthews

💰 Current cap hit: $11.6M
📊 Stats on current contract: 269 GP, 188G, 148A

All signs reportedly point to Matthews sticking with the Maple Leafs on his next deal, but until pen meets paper, speculation surrounding the face of Toronto's franchise will run rampant. No matter where or when Matthews signs, he'll likely become the league's highest-paid player based on average annual value.

Steven Stamkos

Mark LoMoglio / National Hockey League / Getty

💰 Current cap hit: $8.5M
📊 Stats on current contract: 434 GP, 203 G, 291 A

The eight-year extension Stamkos inked before hitting free agency in 2016 is approaching its end, and it's aged wonderfully for the Lightning. Tampa's captain has collected 1.13 points per game over the deal's duration to go along with two championships and an additional Stanley Cup Final appearance. As the Bolts' all-time leader in goals, points, and soon-to-be games played, Stamkos might be the least likely player on this list to seek a new team next year.

Sebastian Aho

💰 Current cap hit: $8.46M
📊 Stats on current contract: 278 GP, 135 G, 136 A

It feels like a lifetime since Aho sent the hockey world into a tizzy by signing an offer sheet with the Canadiens, but his next deal is around the corner. The Hurricanes can ill-afford to lose their top offensive player and luckily have financial flexibility on their side. That bodes well for Carolina, as Aho has a strong case to command a significant raise.

William Nylander

Kevin Sousa / National Hockey League / Getty

💰 Current cap hit: $6.9M
📊 Stats on current contract: 336 GP, 129 G,166 A

Nylander's negotiations with the Maple Leafs appear much more precarious than Matthews' as his initial ask was reportedly higher than Toronto is willing to pay. Matthews could set the table for Nylander by taking less for the sake of the team, but if not, it doesn't make sense for Nylander to continue being the only bargain within the Leafs' Core Four. He's produced 30-plus goals in three of the past four seasons and has done his share in the playoffs over that span with 29 points in 30 games.

Sam Reinhart

💰 Current cap hit: $6.5M
📊 Stats on current contract: 160 GP, 64 G, 85 A

Reinhart doesn't carry the same value as the players above him on this list, but he's notched back-to-back 30-goal seasons since joining the Panthers and has blossomed into an integral piece of their top six. He could fill that role effectively on a lot of teams and may have his pick of the litter on the open market. The Cats have plenty of money to spend next summer but have to fill out a roster that has only eight signed players for 2024-25.

Mark Scheifele

Darcy Finley / National Hockey League / Getty

💰 Current cap hit: $6.125M
📊 Stats on current contract: 496 GP, 214 G, 286 A

Scheifele comes with defensive deficiencies, but he can flat-out produce and would help almost any team down the middle. The 30-year-old is rumored to be a high-profile trade candidate, meaning he could be on the move twice over the next year. Even if he plays out his contract with the Jets, Scheifele is unlikely to fit into their long-term plans.

Jake Guentzel

💰 Current cap hit: $6M
📊 Stats on current contract: 249 GP, 119 G, 138 A

Chase money, or continue being Sidney Crosby's primary left-winger while also sharing a power play with Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang? Guentzel could potentially earn more in free agency, but what could possibly entice him from leaving the dream role he currently occupies in Pittsburgh?

Tyler Bertuzzi

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💰 Current cap hit: $5.5M
📊 Stats on previous contract: 118 GP, 38 G, 54 A

Bertuzzi was one of this year's most coveted free agents, but he opted for a one-year deal to potentially springboard himself to a more lucrative contract in 2024 when there's more money flying around. His blend of physicality and production will make him a hot commodity if he doesn't re-up with the Maple Leafs.

Tom Wilson

💰 Current cap hit: $5.16M
📊 Stats on current contract: 289 GP, 93 G, 98A

Speaking of physicality and production, Wilson may be the standard-bearer in today's NHL when it comes to old-school power forwards. Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan emphatically denied reports of Wilson being available for trade this offseason, so it's safe to assume Washington will look to retain the rugged winger. If it doesn't, teams will heavily pursue Wilson.

Jonathan Marchessault

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💰 Current cap hit: $5M
📊 Stats on current contract: 355 GP, 123 G, 150 A

Marchessault has been a key piece of the Golden Knights' identity since the club's inception in 2017, but Vegas has developed a cutthroat reputation when it comes to player loyalty. It's worked, too, and if the club chooses to let Marchessault walk, the perennial 25-goal threat with a Conn Smythe under his belt should attract his fair share of interest.

Elias Lindholm

💰 Current cap hit: $4.85M
📊 Stats on current contract: 369 GP, 139 G, 186 A

Lindholm's been one of the league's best bargains over the course of his current deal, ranking 13th among all centers in goals since 2018-19 while making less than every player ahead of him on the list. If he and the Flames can't agree on an extension, suitors should be lined up out the door this offseason and next.

Joe Pavelski

💰 Current cap hit: $3.5M
📊 Stats on previous contract: 82 GP, 28 G, 49 A

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Pavelski will be 40 shortly after his current contract expires, but make no mistake: He's still got game. He's operated at a near point-per-game clip over the past three seasons, and 31 opposing teams would covet offensive prowess as well as his veteran presence in the dressing room. Pavelski appears quite content in Dallas, but he'd be a great get if he's willing to leave.

Other notable free-agent forwards include Jordan Eberle, Tyler Toffoli, Viktor Arvidsson, Matt Duchene, and Max Domi.


Brady Skjei

💰 Current cap hit: $5.25M
📊 Stats on current contract: 360 GP, 46 G, 90 A

Skjei is a dependable top-four fixture on a stout Hurricanes squad that contributes positively at both ends of the ice. A long-term deal and/or a raise could be risky as he nears 30, but teams looking to bolster their back ends should closely monitor Skjei a year from now.

Alec Martinez

Michael Martin / National Hockey League / Getty

💰 Current cap hit: $5.25M
📊 Stats on current contract: 156 GP, 15 G, 39 A

With a pair of championships on his resume already, Martinez may hang up his skates for good instead of entering the open market at 36. If he's willing to continue his career, he could be a quality depth option.

Noah Hanifin

💰 Current cap hit: $4.95M
📊 Stats on current contract: 359 GP, 31 G, 125 A

Hanifin reportedly wants out of Calgary, and whichever team acquires him will surely try to work out an extension. If he goes to market, though, the 26-year-old will be highly sought-after as a gifted skater with a strong two-way game in the prime of his career.

Tyson Barrie

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💰 Current cap hit: $4.5M
📊 Stats on current contract: 158 GP, 20 G, 76 A

Barrie's player profile is crystal clear 12 years into his NHL career: He can be a defensive liability but can run point on a power play to great effectiveness. He's unlikely to break the bank on his next deal but should have no problem finding someone to suit up for.

Chris Tanev

💰 Current cap hit: $4.5M
📊 Stats on current contract: 203 GP, 9 G, 44 A

If there's a polar opposite to Barrie, it's Tanev. The 33-year-old has never scored more than six goals in a season but is a shutdown defender through and through at even strength and on the penalty kill. He's a low-maintenance player who can easily log 20 minutes per night and is one of the league's premier shot-blockers. Tanev is the kind of blue-liner every GM longs for come playoff time.

Devon Toews

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💰 Current cap hit: $4.1M
📊 Stats on current contract: 199 GP, 29 G, 109 A

Toews is a remarkable two-way rearguard who's criminally overshadowed by his most common partner: superstar Cale Makar. Toews may not possess the same game-breaking talent as the 2022 Norris Trophy and Conn Smythe winner, but he's a dynamic skater, rock-solid defensively, and registered back-to-back 50-plus point seasons. He's been the most underrated contributor to Colorado's recent success, and if any blue-liner we've listed is going to cash in on their next deal, it's Toews.

Brett Pesce

💰 Current cap hit: $4.025M
📊 Stats on current contract: 341 GP, 27 G, 103 A

Pesce has long been viewed as a defensive specialist, but his expected goals against numbers have begun to tilt in the wrong direction in recent seasons. That trend probably isn't enough to scare off potential suitors, as a right-side blue-liner under 30 years old will always generate interest on the open market.

Brandon Montour

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💰 Current cap hit: $3.5M
📊 Stats on current contract: 161 GP, 27 G, 83 A

Montour elevated his stock in a big way in 2022-23, bagging a career-high 16 goals and 73 points before adding eight tallies during the Panthers' run to the Stanley Cup Final. A shoulder injury sustained in the playoffs is a concern heading into his platform year, but Montour should be in line for a significant pay jump based on his body of work since signing in Florida two years ago.

Other notable free-agent defensemen include TJ Brodie, John Klingberg, Shayne Gostisbehere, Nikita Zadorov, and Matt Grzelcyk.


Connor Hellebuyck

💰 Current cap hit: $6.16M
📊 Stats on current contract: 296 GP, 155 W, .916 SV%, 78.3 GSAA

Next year's free-agent options between the pipes are largely uninspiring, except for Hellebuyck. He's a legitimate franchise-changer bound to suit up for a new team soon as he doesn't want to extend in Winnipeg. Giving any goalie in their 30s term is a gamble, but two or three quality years from Hellebuyck could easily vault a playoff team to a Cup contender. The three-time Vezina finalist led the NHL in starts three of the past four seasons and has routinely shined for a Jets team that rarely provides adequate defensive help in front of him.

Matt Murray

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💰 Current cap hit: $6.25M (split between Senators and Maple Leafs)
📊 Stats on current contract: 73 GP, 29 W, 900 SV%, minus-12.3 GSAA

Murray has shown flashes of his Cup-winning self since signing with Ottawa and subsequently being dealt to Toronto, but he's been unable to remain healthy. He hasn't appeared in 50 games since 2018-19, and while he's one of the bigger names on the free-agency list, there's far too much risk in signing him to a lucrative contract at this stage of his career.

Marc-Andre Fleury

💰 Current cap hit: $3.5M
📊 Stats on current contract: 46 GP, 24 W, .908 SV%, 4.9 GSAA

Fleury relinquished the starting job in Minnesota to Filip Gustavsson last season. No one would fault him for calling it quits when his contract expires as he pushes 40 years old as a backup. His reputation will force teams to keep tabs on him until he officially retires, but Fleury has already accomplished everything he can in goal and is on the fast track for the Hockey Hall of Fame.

(Salary info courtesy: Cap Friendly)

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