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Unrestricted Free Agents Who Can Help Contenders

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Unrestricted Free Agents Who Can Help Contenders
Zdeno Chara. Adam Glanzman/Getty Images/AFP

Unrestricted Free Agents that could impact the odds. The NHL 2021-22 season is just around the corner. Training camps are set to get underway later this month in anticipation of the first puck drop in October. So, as teams work to assemble their rosters and improve their chances to win the Stanley Cup, we look at a three unrestricted free agents that could have a significant impact on the NHL odds.

Of course, there are only a handful of legitimate contenders that could foreseeably challenge for the 2022 Stanley Cup. Landing one of those coveted roster spots would be the best-case scenario, but it doesn’t always work that way.

Zdeno Chara, Defenseman

  • Last Team: Washington Capitals

Defenseman Zdeno Chara is the oldest active NHL player at the age of 44 and last season, while playing on a one-year deal with the Washington Capitals, he proved he was still a viable player in the NHL. He played 55 games with the Capitals, scored two goals and had eight assists. He averaged 18:19 minutes per game and made his presence felt each time. He was the second-best player for Washington blocking shots (67) and wasn’t afraid of taking hits either (88). The Washington Capitals reached the 2021 playoffs but were dismissed by the Boston Bruins in the first round.

Chara’s NHL career was mostly spent with the Boston Bruins, where he was also the team captain for a number of years. The sum total of his contribution to the NHL includes playing 1,608 games, scoring 207 goals and 459 assists for 666 points. He won the Stanley Cup with the Bruins in 2011. Potential landing spots for the towering defenseman include the Philadelphia Flyers and Florida Panthers – with the latter representing a solid option in terms of contention. The Florida Panthers are tipped at +1800 to win the Stanley Cup according to BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review).

Eric Staal, Forward

  • Last Team: Montreal Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens are coming off a Stanley Cup finals appearance in which Eric Staal was a big factor. The Canadiens defied the NHL odds to reach the ultimate round, but they lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games. Staal, at 36 years of age, is an unrestricted free agent, He previously played for the Carolina Hurricanes, New York Rangers, Minnesota Wild and Buffalo Sabres before heading to Montreal on March 26, 2021 in a trade for third- and fifth-round picks in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft.

In his career, Staal has played 1, 293 games, scored 441 goals and earned 593 assists for a total of 1,034 points. Last season, Staal played 32 games with the Sabres where he had three goals and seven assists. Then he played 21 games for the Canadiens and had two goals and one assist. Staal was a Stanley Cup champion in 2006, winning the coveted trophy with the Carolina Hurricanes.

Staal may yet stay with the Canadiens for another year if the team is able to work something out. Alternatively, Staal could very well be headed back to the Carolina Hurricanes according to NHL insiders, which wouldn’t be a bad move seeing as the Hurricanes are tipped at +2500 to win the Stanley Cup according to BetOnline.

Travis Zajac, Centre

  • Last Team: New York Islanders

Travis Zajac is coming off a short-lived stint with the New York Islanders, who reached the Eastern Conference finals (l. to Tampa Bay Lightning). Zajac was traded from the Devils to the Islanders on April 7, 2021 along with Kyle Palmieri in exchange for forwards A. J. Greer and Mason Jobs, a first-round pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft and a conditional 2022 fourth-round pick.

Zajac played 13 games with the Islanders in the playoffs where he had one goal and one assist. Lifetime, Zajac has played 1,037 games, scored 203 goals and earned 349 assists. Zajac took a reduced role with the Islanders last season and that flexibility could mean he’d be a fit with a number of teams if the deal is right.

2022 Stanley Cup Future Odds to Win

  • Colorado Avalanche +575
  • Tampa Bay Lightning +625
  • Vegas Golden Knights +750
  • Toronto Maple Leafs +1200
  • Boston Bruins +1400
  • New York Islanders +1600
  • Florida Panthers +1800
  • New York Rangers +1800
  • Pittsburgh Penguins +1800
  • Dallas Stars +2000
  • Carolina Hurricanes +2500
  • Edmonton Oilers +2500
  • Minnesota Wild +2500
  • Washington Capitals +2800
  • Philadelphia Flyers +3300
  • St. Louis Blues +3300
  • Seattle Kraken +3300
  • Winnipeg Jets +3500
  • Chicago Blackhawks +4500
  • Montreal Canadiens +4500
  • Calgary Flames +5000
  • New Jersey Devils +5000
  • Vancouver Canucks +6000
  • Los Angeles Kings +6600
  • Nashville Predators +6600
  • San Jose Sharks+8000
  • Ottawa Senators+15000
  • Arizona Coyotes+20000
  • Anaheim Ducks +20000
  • Buffalo Sabres +20000
  • Columbus Blue Jackets +20000
  • Detroit Red Wings +2000

*All odds available with BetOnline