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free agency

Top free agent forwards: Neal on the market

Stastny, Perron, Bozak among those available

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

With free agency about to begin, there are several teams in the market for a forward who can boost them into a Stanley Cup contender.

NHL.com takes a closer look at the top unrestricted free agent forwards expected to be available when the market opens:

 

John Tavares, New York Islanders

If Tavares decided against re-signing with the Islanders, the 27-year-old center would be one of the most coveted free agents in NHL history. Tavares, the No. 1 pick at the 2009 NHL Draft, had 84 points (37 goals, 47 assists) in 2017-18 for the Islanders, who missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second straight season. Tavares has 621 points (272 goals, 349 assists) in 669 NHL games and has been captain of the Islanders since the start of the 2013-14 season.

Tavares, a two-time Hart Trophy finalist (2013, 2015), reportedly began talking with potential suitors in Los Angeles on Monday.

Possible landing spots: Islanders, San Jose Sharks, Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning, Dallas Stars, Boston Bruins

Video: Discussing John Tavares' meetings during free agency

 

Paul Stastny, Winnipeg Jets

Stastny fit in nicely with the Winnipeg Jets (four goals, nine assists in 19 regular-season games) after they acquired him in a trade from the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 26. He also had 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in 17 playoff games before the Jets lost to the Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference Final.

The 32-year-old center has been a consistent point-producer throughout his NHL career. He has 646 points (220 goals, 426 assists) in 824 games with the Jets, Blues and Colorado Avalanche. Stastny was Colorado's second-round pick (No. 44) at the 2005 NHL Draft.

Possible landing spots: Jets, Avalanche, Montreal Canadiens, New Jersey Devils

Video: WPG@NSH, Gm7: Stastny pads lead with his second

 

James van Riemsdyk, Toronto Maple Leafs

Van Riemsdyk, 29, scored an NHL career-high 36 goals for the Maple Leafs this season, his sixth with Toronto. The forward has scored at least 20 goals five times and has 65 goals in the past two seasons.

A first-round pick by the Philadelphia Flyers (No. 2) at the 2007 NHL Draft, van Riemsdyk has 393 points (201 goals, 192 assists) in 609 NHL games.

TSN reported Saturday he woule be returning to the Flyers.

Possible landing spots: Flyers

Video: TOR@BOS, Gm5: van Riemsdyk roofs PPG from in tight

  

James Neal, Vegas Golden Knights

Neal, 30, thrived in Vegas after being left unprotected by the Nashville Predators in the NHL Expansion Draft; he scored 25 goals for the Golden Knights and played a huge role in their improbable run to the Stanley Cup Final. Neal had 11 points (six goals, five assists) in 20 playoff games.

Neal has scored at least 20 goals in each of his 10 NHL seasons and has 495 points (263 goals, 232 assists) in 703 games. He has 55 points (31 goals, 24 assists) in 100 NHL playoff games.

Possible landing spots: Devils, Stars, Predators, Golden Knights

Video: VGK@WSH, Gm4: Neal roofs shot to put Vegas on board

 

Tyler Bozak, Toronto Maple Leafs

A solid two-way center, Bozak, 32, has played all nine of his NHL seasons with the Maple Leafs and had 43 points (11 goals, 32 assists) in 81 games this season.

Bozak's ability to win face-offs will be attractive to general managers; he won 53.6 percent this season, matching his NHL career high.

Bozak, who was not drafted, has 365 points (136 goals, 229 assists) in 594 NHL games.

Possible landing spots: Maple Leafs, Canadiens, Islanders, Avalanche

 

Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks

A knee injury limited Thornton to 47 games with the Sharks this season and forced him to miss the playoffs.

But there is no denying what Thornton brings when healthy: leadership and an ability to distribute the puck. Thornton played 79 games in 2016-17 and had 50 points (seven goals, 43 assists). In 2015-16, he had 82 points (19 goals, 63 assists) in 82 games and helped the Sharks reach the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in their history.

Thornton, who turns 39 on July 2, has 1,427 points (397 goals, 1,030 assists) in 1,493 games with the Sharks and Boston Bruins. He was the No. 1 pick in the 1997 NHL Draft by the Bruins.

Possible landing spots: Sharks

Video: SJS@ANA: Thornton rips home power-play goal

 

Riley Nash, Boston Bruins

Nash had a breakout season with the Bruins, scoring 41 points (15 goals, 26 assists) in 76 games.

The 29-year-old center can slide up and down the lineup and not look out of place. In 399 NHL games, he has 139 points (53 goals, 86 assists) with the Bruins and Hurricanes.

Nash was a first-round pick (No. 21) by the Edmonton Oilers at the 2007 NHL Draft.

Possible landing spots: Bruins, Devils, Blues, Canadiens

 

David Perron, Vegas Golden Knights

Perron is coming off a solid season when he led the Golden Knights with 50 assists and finished third with 66 points.

It was the first time Perron, 30, had 60 points in the NHL; his previous high was 57 with the Oilers in 2013-14. Perron had nine points (one goal, eight assists) in 15 playoff games for the Golden Knights.

A first-round pick by the Blues (No. 26) in 2007, Perron has 444 points (175 goals, 269 assists) in 722 games with the Golden Knights, Anaheim Ducks, Pittsburgh Penguins, Oilers and Blues.

Possible landing spots: Devils, Rangers, Hurricanes, Ottawa Senators

 

Jay Beagle, Washington Capitals

Beagle, 32, made history earlier by becoming the first player to win the Kelly Cup (ECHL), Calder Cup (American Hockey League) and Stanley Cup.

He would be a solid addition for any team looking to upgrade its fourth line. Beagle had 22 points (seven goals, 15 assists) in 79 games this season and led the Capitals by winning 58.5 percent of his face-offs. He had eight points (two goals, six assists) in 23 playoff games.

Beagle, who was not drafted, has 116 points (51 goals, 65 assists) in 471 NHL games, all with the Capitals.

Possible landing spots: Calgary Flames, Oilers, Minnesota Wild, Vancouver Canucks, Rangers

 

Michael Grabner, New Jersey Devils

Grabner, 30, scored 27 goals for the second straight season; 25 came with the Rangers before they made a rare trade with the Devils on Feb. 22.

The speedy forward can play in all situations and has shown durability in recent seasons after experiencing injury problems during his time with the Islanders (2010-15).

Grabner, a first-round pick by Vancouver (No. 14) at the 2006 NHL Draft, has 249 points (158 goals, 91 assists) in 553 games with the Canucks, Islanders, Maple Leafs, Rangers and Devils.

Possible landing spots: Rangers, Devils, Hurricanes, Oilers, Coyotes, Canucks

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