Top 20 UFAs for 2015

Martin St. Louis, Antti Niemi and Paul Martin are the top impending free agents at their positions. Getty Images

When Jason Spezza signed his four-year contract extension with the Dallas Stars worth $7.5 million per season, the initial thought was that it seemed high for a player on the downside of his career.

All it took was a quick glance at the 2015 free-agent center options, and suddenly that money didn’t look so bad.

The free-agent market seems to get thinner each year, making signing your current players a smart priority. That’s one reason why Spezza likely isn’t the last to get a deal done here in the next month or so.

“You’re going to see teams try to get deals done. There might be more of an urgency to get deals done,” said one agent with a couple of high-end players in contract years. “The cap isn’t going to go up significantly, so the prominent guys are being locked in.”

Spezza would have been one of the top three players available. What does the UFA list look like without him? Here’s an early look at the Top 20, with updates on where some of negotiations currently stand:

1. Martin St. Louis, F, New York Rangers

The Rangers were St. Louis’ preferred destination when he was leaving Tampa Bay, so there’s no reason to believe he’s going anywhere. He’s been a great fit with the Rangers, was their spiritual leader during their trip to the Stanley Cup finals and has 17 points through 20 games so far this season. At 39, he might be at the point where he’s willing to do one-year deals that come with bonuses that can be rolled over.