Looking at four of the best remaining bargain UFAs in the NHL

Nick Kypreos joined Sportsnet Central to discuss the Toronto Maple Leafs additions and losses on the first day of NHL free agency and picks some moves he likes and didn't like from north of the border on July 1.

One week into NHL free agency, the shelves have mostly been cleaned out, but there still are some solid options on the market that can be had at a discount.

Let’s rummage through the bargain bin:

Age: 32
Previous team: New Jersey Devils
Previous cap hit: $4.5 million

The veteran forward scored 20 goals last season for the seventh time in his 12-year career. New Jersey generated 1.05 expected goals per 20 minutes at 5-on-5 when Tatar was on the ice, which was tied for 19th out of 503 qualified forwards (minimum 100 minutes).

Tatar definitely benefited from playing on a line with Nico Hischier, but he was not a passenger. He was most effective on the cycle, ranking 26th at his position with 49 such scoring chances at 5-on-5, but he can also keep up with high-end skaters on the rush. Teams that are still on the lookout for scoring at a reasonable price should check out Tatar. 

Age: 23
Previous team: Detroit Red Wings
Previous cap hit: $1.825 million

After clearing waivers Tuesday, Zadina decided he wanted a fresh start, so the Red Wings agreed to terminate his contract. Clearly, Zadina has not lived up to his draft slot (No. 6 overall in 2018), but can he be salvaged?

Zadina, who scored 44 goals in his draft year, averaged 2.44 scoring chances per 20 at 5-on-5 in 30 games last season — the same amount as Patrik Laine and Viktor Arvidsson. He scored on just two of those chances, though. Zadina is a true reclamation project, but his raw tools are top-end. If he can find his finishing ability, he could be a sneaky-good addition.

Age: 27
Previous team: Detroit Red Wings
Previous cap hit: $3.25 million

Suter had 29 goals and 60 points over two seasons with the Red Wings, but his impact is most felt on the defensive side of the puck. Suter made 5.79 defensive plays per 20 at 5-on-5 last season — tied for 69th among qualified forwards. (Defensive plays include pass blocks, shot blocks, stick checks and body checks.)

The Red Wings relied on Suter on the penalty kill, where he averaged 1:44 of ice time per game last season. Detroit allowed 0.2 xGA per two PK minutes when he was on the ice — tied for 37th out of 196 forwards who played at least 50 shorthanded minutes.

Age: 26
Previous team: Chicago Blackhawks
Previous cap hit: $1.35 million

The Blackhawks did not give Jones a qualifying offer after he averaged more than 19 minutes per game last season. Jones is a steady defender, denying 55.6 per cent of zone-entry attempts made against him at 5-on-5 — 13th out of 287 defencemen (minimum 100 minutes). The 6-foot-1, 194-pound blueliner is also highly rated when it comes to separating opponents from the puck (25th among qualified defencemen in 5-on-5 body checks per 20).

Jones played with a variety of partners last season, most notably older brother Seth on the Blackhawks’ top pair. The younger Jones is a useful role player.

All stats via Sportlogiq

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