By James McWilliams | NHL.com Staff WriterThe NHL has begun negotiating with a number of clubs in the wake of the free agency period, which ends on June 12.
With the season set to kick off on Friday, June 13, the league is still in a difficult spot because it can’t just give players what they want and force them to sit out the rest of the season.
It has to work with each club to find a way to make a deal happen.
The best option, however, would be to just make the players available at a point in the season when the salary cap is low, and they’d be fully eligible to sign with any other club.
The NHL is trying to do just that with the 2019 free agency class, which opens June 10.
The league is asking clubs to submit offers for players at a price of $5.2 million for the 2019 class, $7.5 million for each of the two classes in 2020 and 2021, and $10.5 to $11.5 for each class in 2022.
The average salary for the entire class is projected to be $4.9 million, which is a drop from the $7 million the league was asking for in July.
That would put the average cap hit for each player at around $8.3 million.
The deadline for clubs to make their final offers to players is June 30, which would be around a month before the start of the regular season.
While it is possible some clubs might not be willing to go that high, other teams might be willing.
There are a few teams who are reportedly interested in adding an elite defender or a top defenseman, as well as a skilled forward who can make the jump from junior to the NHL.
If the league were to release players at this time, the top priority would be getting the best possible player available.
But if the best offer is in the $5 million range, the teams would then need to come up with another offer.
If there is a high-level prospect in a high draft class, for example, the NHL might be interested in signing him, but a team like the New Jersey Devils would probably want to wait until after the 2019 draft.
In other words, if a team is willing to offer the highest possible offer and the players are in the free agent pool, the best chance for a deal to happen would be when the NHL releases the players at the end of the month.
With this in mind, here are five teams that could be interested.*Boston Bruins: The Bruins have been on the hunt for an elite forward since last summer, but they could have an open window to make an offer to the likes of Alexander Radulov, Patrik Berglund and Jakub Kindl.
The Bruins’ best offer could be in the range of $10 million for Radulo, Berglung and Kindl, which means they’d have to wait for the players to return to the team before making an offer.
That’s the reality of free agency, but the Bruins could be the most aggressive in their pursuit of elite talent.
The Bruins would like to add a top-four defenseman and a top offensive player, but that’s a tough sell without a top player.
Boston is a team that is likely to be in a market for top-six forwards.
They have a plethora of high-end prospects, including Zach Trotman, Niklas Svedberg and Zach Redmond.
The team also has a talented young forward corps that includes Zdeno Chara, Ryan Spooner, Milan Lucic and Michael McLeod.*Calgary Flames: Flames GM Brad Treliving and head coach Bob Hartley have been very vocal about their desire to add elite talent and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them make a push for a top prospect.
The Flames could be willing pay for the services of one of the top defensive prospects in the country, including Alex Nedeljkovic, and add another to the forward corps.
The Flames have an elite prospect pool, including Jakub Zboril, and could use that depth to add some top-end talent.*Edmonton Oilers: The Oilers have been active in free agency since last spring, but are still not quite done.
They could have a chance to make moves that would get them a top two-way defenseman, a top top-line forward and a first-line center.
The Oilers are the only team that has the potential to land a top center, as they have plenty of options.
It could be a very interesting situation to see who the Oilers sign to a deal, and who they sign to take a chance on.
The Edmonton Oilers have plenty in common with the Bruins, Flyers and Flames, all of whom have top-tier prospects on their rosters.
The Oilers are also the only franchise in the NHL that has been successful in