September is here and hockey is fastly approaching. In the next couple of weeks, training camps are going to start up and rosters will start to be fine tuned. Pre-season games are going to be here at the end of the month and we will finally get a first look of what certain teams and players look like. With that in mind, there is still some high-quality talent still available in free agency. The players on this list are guys that plenty of teams that should take serious notes about and grab their flier. All of these guys bring plenty of experience and talent to the table and probably won’t come at too high a cost. So here are the top NHL free agents that are still available.
A veteran defenseman that still has a lot to bring to the table. The 33-year-old is not getting any younger but he is still a very solid defensive addition. There is 0 doubt he is on the older side of the coin. Subban didn’t have the impact in New Jersey many thought he would have, but still found a good role during his time there. Last season, Subban started to show bits and pieces of his former self while putting up respectable counting and advanced stats. Could be easily stuck into a top four as a 3rd or 4th defenseman. While Subban isn’t the point-scoring machine he was in the past, he can still contribute on the ice. The 33-year-old had 22 points (five goals, 17 assists) in 77 games last season. And for his career, Subban has 467 points (115 goals, 352 assists) in 834 games for the Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators and Devils and 62 points (18 goals, 44 assists) in 96 playoff games.These past three seasons he wasn’t the most attractive player to add due to his nine-million dollar cap hit, but now that’s a lot different. His ice time dropped by nearly four minutes per game on average this season for the Devils, but his underlying numbers were strong. He has and is overlooked due to the mediocrity of New Jersey’s season, yet he’s ready to make a difference.
Through 22 starts for Dallas he posted an even record of 10-10-1, with his best statistical year since being a starter back in 2016-17. Posting a .913 save percentage and a 2.78 goals against average, that’s all you could ask for from a veteran goaltender. Holtby could be a starter on a bad team or a solid 1B or backup for any team in need of an anchor in the crease. Truthfully, I believe he should’ve been Jake Oettinger’s backup instead of Anton Khudobin. Yes Holtby’s numbers are inflated due to his low sample size, but over his career he has shown more at a higher level than Khudobin. Any team in need of extra goaltending should get him.
Yandle has a huge reputation for his reliability and availability to stay on the ice. No one is questioning his toughness, as Yandle played an NHL record 989 consecutive games before he was a healthy scratch last season, when he had 19 points (one goal, 18 assists) in 77 games. One of the NHL’s ironmen who can handle the load. The 35-year-old has 619 points (103 goals, 516 assists) in 1,109 regular-season games for the Flyers, Panthers, Rangers and Coyotes and 36 points (six goals, 30 assists) in 58 playoff games. 2022 saw Yandle score only one goal but he added 18 assists and nearly 14 minutes of average time on ice for a bad Flyers team. Another defenseman that is a lot older, but his talent and experience is nothing that should be overlooked. Many know he can anchor a power play and support offensively from the defensive position. On a more talented team, Yandle could thrive on the second or third defensive pairing on a strong offensive team.
A much younger player on this list, Sonny Milano is a sneaky good player that is available right now. Milano’s name is a huge surprise to see in the free agency pool. The former Ducks forward put his name on the map last season on both ends of the ice, with a career-high 34 points in 66 games. The Anaheim Ducks didn’t give the 26-year-old forward a qualifying offer, which sent Milano into being a restricted free agent to join the unrestricted free agent masses. A younger forward that is a Swiss Army knife in terms of his tool-kit, Milano can strengthen almost every team’s top nine group. Everyone of the 31 NHL teams should be vying for his services, at what should be a very reasonable rate.
Honorable Mentions: Johan Larsson, Tyler Motte
Both forwards aren’t the most big name players on the market, but they have a place on many NHL rosters. In an offense heavy league, plenty of people forget how important defensive specialists are in the game today. Larsson and Motte don’t have much offensive upside, yet they are some of the more elite talents in terms of their defensive impact. They each are in the highest levels of even strength defense percentiles (Larsson 99%, Motte 70%) and each are known for their shutdown ability against solid competition. Either could be great additions to any bottom six forward group for their ability on the defensive end.