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Free Agency Preview 2019

Free Agency Preview 2019

With this summer set to see the greatest free-agent class of all-time, we have everything you need to know in our Free Agency Preview: reports on all 31 teams; top 20 UFA Power Rankings; top 10 bargain UFAs; a history of offer sheets; features on Karlsson, Panarin and Bobrovsky; and much, much more. Also in the issue: our 2019 mock draft, we say goodbye to Red Kelly, and we count down the final 10 helmetless NHLers.

Feature

Helmet Holdouts

LOOK AROUND THE NHL today, and you will notice that players without visors are few and far between. Such was the case with helmets 30 years ago. Seeing a helmetless player in 1989 was as unusual as seeing a visorless player today. The NHL made helmets mandatory four decades ago. Any player who entered the league after June 1, 1979 had to wear a helmet, but any player who signed his first pro contract before then could opt out if they signed a waiver. During the 1978-79 season, about 30 percent of NHLers didn’t wear a helmet. Ten years later, though, and you could count on both hands how many helmetless players were left in the league. Here’s a rundown of those players, and why they chose to show their…

Feature

A Look Through The Window

WHEN THE NHL and NHLPA instituted a bargaining window in the week before July 1 as part of the most recent collective bargaining agreement in 2013, it opened up a realm of possibilities for unrestricted free agents and the teams chasing them. But who truly benefits from the change? It depends who you ask. To be perfectly clear about the issue, it’s important to acknowledge teams were already reaching out to players before the policy was put in place. They just had to be more subtle about it. “Everybody used to tamper anyway,” said one NHL team executive. “Now it’s legal.” The advent of the negotiation window meant players could physically visit the cities they were interested in, meet with team personnel and get a sense of what their potential new homes…

BUZZ

Behind the Mask

MCNIVEN IS OFFICIALLY A Game of Thrones diehard, but it happened quickly. He saw the show for the first time this spring, quickly became obsessed, binged the whole series and had artist Dave Gunnarsson paint a new design based on it. McNiven wanted Jon Snow for his tenacity, Daenerys Targaryen for her power and a winter theme, including the Stark family sigil and direwolf Ghost, to connect with a winter sport.…

NHL Team Reports

Toronto Maple Leafs

It’s all but certain the Maple Leafs will become the first and only team in the NHL to have three players who carry average annual values of more than $10 million once they get MITCH MARNER to sign an extension. The only problem is the Leafs have only about $8 million in cap space, so roster adjustments will need to be made, and that’s before the team even thinks about extending Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson, the latter of whom has arbitration rights. On the blueline, it’s hard to envision any scenario where Jake Gardiner or Ron Hainsey stays in Toronto. They’ll need to be replaced. If Marner does get past July 1 – he almost certainly won’t – will the sharks start circling with offer sheets for the valuable…