The NHL's free-agent frenzy will begin Sunday. While some significant names might not make it to the open market, there will be plenty of other options from which to choose.
Of course, what makes it "the frenzy" is that it's not just about signing players; it's about the trades being made to create cap space, or to fill other needs.
Here's a look at all 31 teams, where they stand with the salary cap (through Tuesday night, via Cap Friendly), the free agents (unrestricted and restricted) who might leave and the players the teams might pursue.
Cap space: $24,352,502
The offseason is a win if they bring in a big haul for winger Jeff Skinner. The same could be said for defenseman Justin Faulk, Victor Rask or any of the other Hurricanes who have circulated in trade rumors. As new owner Tom Dundon promises a total culture change, it feels as if almost every player's status is tenuous. That's fine, as long as the Canes recoup significant assets in return.
Be careful of not being able to field a competitive roster next season. Dundon can talk a big game about wanting change, but if the team regresses, fans will sour fast. That's why the Hurricanes should look into some veteran forward options. They'll also need a new backup goaltender, someone who can presumably push Scott Darling as the No. 1 -- and take over if Darling continues to struggle.
Cap space: $17,184,168
The offseason is a win if they can convince Artemi Panarin to sign an extension before the summer is over. When Panarin told GM Jarmo Kekalainen that he wasn't ready to commit to Columbus long term -- at least right now, anyway -- it hamstrung the Blue Jackets' future planning. Panarin is a player to build around. Things could change between now and the beginning of the season, and a change of heart would be best-case scenario for Columbus. Panarin becomes a UFA next summer and if nothing is done by the trade deadline, expect him to be moved.
Be careful of entering the 2018-19 season without acquiring any depth scoring. Panarin led all Blue Jackets last season with 82 points; no other Columbus forward cracked 50. Kekalainen needs to find other ways his team can produce offense, and that might have to come on the free-agent market.
Cap space: $24,398,333
The offseason is a win if the Devils can keep a guy like Maroon around, and also sign a defenseman or two. A Maroon re-signing seems tangible at this point, and that's good because New Jersey needs scorers to take some pressure off Taylor Hall. The defense needs the most help though, especially with captain Andy Greene showing signs of regressing and Moore potentially being paid to head elsewhere.
Be careful of not addressing defense. With John Carlson off the board, there really aren't many sure things on the market. For example, the defenseman most likely to be paid big is de Haan, who played only 33 games last season. But the Devils can't bank on the group they have. They absolutely need another capable body to add.
Cap space: $32,759,167
The offseason is a win if they keep Tavares, plain and simple. If Tavares chooses another team, this summer will always be known as a bust for the Islanders, especially considering they put a GM and coach in place who were supposed to convince Tavares to stay.
Be careful of overcommitting to one of the goalies on the market; many of them are damaged goods. Of course, beggars can't really be choosers and the Islanders are in desperate need of any help at the position. Cap space shouldn't be as much of an issue as term; none of the goalies on the market should inspire full confidence based off their résumés.
Cap space: $29,450,556
The offseason is a win if the Rangers can add some veterans -- especially veterans who play gritty -- to set the example for a very young roster in 2018-19. As New York fully commits to the rebuild (at least for now) the goal is not necessarily to win next season, but set a foundation for the next Stanley Cup window. But given the market, the Rangers need to field at least a respectable team (they can't fully tank), which is why short deals for vets make sense.
Be careful of being tempted by old habits. That means jumping into the market for a player like James van Riemsdyk or Erik Karlsson (via trade). By all indications, the Rangers are remaining disciplined in staying to their new approach; they were out on Ilya Kovalchuk pretty early. But it's the New York Rangers after all, and you never know.
Cap space: $21,740,833
The offseason is a win if GM Ron Hextall only tinkers with his roster, making one or two smart veteran free-agent additions. The Flyers could use a third-liner, for example, as well as a dependable defenseman. Other than that, there's nothing on the free-agent market that should entice a team like the Flyers.
Be careful of signing any free agents to contracts with term. Philadelphia has a few financial commitments on the mind, mainly a long-term extension for Ivan Provorov (which should be coming soon), an extension for Travis Konecny who also becomes an RFA next summer, and also a new deal for Wayne Simmonds, who is an unrestricted free agent after the 2018-19 season.
Cap space: $8,532,500
Targets in free agency, trades: D Jack Johnson, D John Moore, D Cody Franson, D Thomas Hickey
The offseason is a win if they get a decent defenseman -- and especially if they can get said D-man on the cheap, without having to unload other contracts. Pittsburgh has a reputation as a place where defensemen's careers can be revived, so someone like Franson (buried last year with Chicago's AHL team) makes sense. The real prize would be Johnson -- Sidney Crosby's good friend -- but that would take some finagling.
Be careful of clearing too much cap space to sign Johnson. The Penguins already found a trade partner for Conor Sheary ($3 million cap hit), and could also do so for Carl Hagelin ($4 million cap hit) -- and maybe even Phil Kessel, though we think that ship has passed -- but the detriment to the forward group might not be worth it for a little defensive help.
Cap space: $13,215,705
The offseason is a win if ... OK let's be honest, the Capitals already won the offseason. They figured out a way to keep John Carlson around -- long term -- in a tight cap squeeze. They also re-upped with playoff hero Devante Smith-Pelly and Carlson partner Michal Kempny.
Be careful of partying too much? Really, there's not much more to worry about for the Capitals, as most of their work is done this offseason. They might go for some cheap supplements (such as veterans who didn't receive qualifying offers) but with barely no money to play around with, the Capitals will look very similar to start the 2018-19 season. Albeit perhaps a bit bleary-eyed.
Cap space: $11,984,333
Players hitting RFA: C Sean Kuraly
The offseason is a win if the Bruins sufficiently address their hole on the wing on the second line. Rick Nash is a solid player and a good citizen, but any team with designs on the Stanley Cup can't afford a goal scorer who devolves into nothingness the minute the playoffs start. They took a swing at Ilya Kovalchuk and missed. Luckily, there are more than a few good options on the left side via free agency and trade.
Be careful of doing anything that might take away ice time from, or hurt the development of, the team's younger players. But the Bruins seem fairly cautious about this.
Cap space: $23,690,476
Players hitting RFA: RW San Reinhart
The offseason is a win if the Sabres get a solid haul for center Ryan O'Reilly, who needs a change in scenery. They're not going to be hurting for suitors, despite his $7.5 million cap hit through 2023.
Be careful of letting Rasmus Dahlin be the only important addition to the defense corps. The Sabres gave up 3.39 goals per game last season, third worst in the NHL. We have the utmost confidence in goalie Linus Ullmark taking the crease from Lehner, but it'd be nice to give him some help on the blue line.
Cap space: $20,502,956
Targets in free agency, trades: C Valtteri Filppula, LW Thomas Vanek, LW Anthony Duclair, RW Michael Grabner, D Calvin de Haan, G Carter Hutton, G Anton Khudobin.
The offseason is a win if the Red Wings get anything close to the return they received for Tomas Tatar from the Golden Knights if they trade forward Gustav Nyquist, who is entering the last year of his contract. The problem is that they'd be selling low, as Nyquist had 40 points in 82 games.
Be careful of giving defenseman Green that third contract year he's asking for.
Cap space: $8,344,168
Players hitting UFA: C Connor Brickley
The offseason is a win if none of the players' wives, girlfriends or partners are suddenly getting cyberbullied on Instagram. If Mike Hoffman can put the scandal that hastened his departure from Ottawa behind him and blossom with Vincent Trocheck and Jonathan Huberdeau, it's a win for Florida. Other than that, GM Dale Tallon said it could be a quiet free-agent season.
Be careful of making the mistake of keeping Petrovic around for the second straight summer. Last time, it helped cost them Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith, who were two-thirds of Vegas' top line. Petrovic is an RFA who slid down the depth chart last season, and there should be teams happy to hear he's in play.
Cap space: $18,612,025
Targets in free agency, trades: C Paul Stastny, C Ryan O'Reilly, C Tyler Bozak, LW James van Riemsdyk, LW Anthony Duclair.
The offseason is a win if GM Marc Bergevin does what he was unable to do at the NHL draft, which is get a significant return for winger Max Pacioretty while acquiring O'Reilly from the Sabres. In both cases, the Canadiens can use their considerable financial resources to take on problematic contracts from trade partners to help facilitate the moves.
Be careful of giving Stastny the kind of free-agent contract that had people down on the veteran during most of his time in St. Louis.
Cap space: $19,311,667
Targets in free agency, trades: D Calvin de Haan, G Jaroslav Halak, G Robin Lehner, G Kari Lehtonen, G Petr Mrazak, G Cam Ward
The offseason is a win if Eugene Melynk sells the team. But since that's not going to happen, the offseason is a win if the Senators maximize the return if and when they trade star defenseman Erik Karlsson, after he likely rejects their "thrifty" contract offer to sign him. GM Pierre Dorion has the luxury of having a group of teams looking to rent Karlsson and another group looking to sign him long term. We know the Senators want to hitch Bobby Ryan's contract to Karlsson; in a perfect world, that frugality would be ignored in favor of exploiting that return. But this is Melnyk we're talking about here.
Be careful of anyone who would willingly sign a long-term contract with this franchise at the moment, because he might be unstable.
Cap space: $10,561,220
Players hitting UFA: LW Chris Kunitz, D Andrej Sustr
Targets in free agency, trades: C John Tavares, D Erik Karlsson, a veteran depth player with a Stanley Cup ring (as GM Steve Yzerman had added several times through the years)
The offseason is a win if they somehow convince Tavares to sign a reasonable contract to play with Steven Stamkos, and are able to offload the necessary salary to make it work (looking at you, Tyler Johnson). Or, failing that, getting Karlsson on the roster for next season, and then figuring out the future after that.
Be careful of believing in the inevitability of this team to win the Stanley Cup next season, when the window is wide open. There's still room for improvement, even if it's not in the form of Tavares or Karlsson.
Cap space: $24,679,167
Players hitting RFA: C William Nylander
The offseason is a win if they somehow convince Tavares to drink the blue Kool-Aid, sign a one-year max contract and then sign a cap-friendly, eight-year extension next summer. And if they bring in -- probably via a trade -- some upgrades to their blue line.
Be careful of any of the other veteran alternatives at center, unless it's Thornton at a discount.
Cap space: $9,225,705
Players hitting RFA: D Adam Clendening
Targets in free agency, trades: G Jonathan Bernier, G Carter Hutton, G Scott Darling, G Cam Ward, G Jaroslav Halak, G Robin Lehner, G Kari Lehtonen, LW James van Riemsdyk, LW Max Pacioretty, D Calvin de Haan, D Ian Cole, D Justin Faulk
The offseason is a win if the Blackhawks can add a top-four defenseman. There's a surplus of D-men in Chicago, so that might mean moving the contract of someone like Connor Murphy ($3.85 cap hit, never became a favorite of coach Joel Quenneville). An ideal trade target would be Faulk in Carolina. Chicago is also looking for someone to take Marian Hossa's cap hit off their books; once again, the Hurricanes could be a good partner.
Be careful of overpaying for a scorer. If GM Stan Bowman can work van Riemsdyk under the cap (he'll probably cost around $6 million), do it. Be more wary of the price for Pacioretty, who would cost significant assets in a trade. The Blackhawks do have plenty of firepower in Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews (who should rebound), Alex DeBrincat, Nick Schmaltz and Dylan Sikura. Defense and goaltending (pending the return of Corey Crawford) are bigger concerns.
Cap space: $18,523,572
Players hitting UFA: LW Blake Comeau, G Jonathan Bernier
Targets in free agency, trades: C Tyler Bozak, C Paul Stastny, LW Matt Calvert, RW Chris Stewart, D Calvin de Haan, D Ian Cole, D Jack Johnson
The offseason is a win if they can win the Stastny sweepstakes. GM Joe Sakic still expects the Avalanche to get even younger in 2018-19, but a player of Stastny's stature and experience would be a terrific role model for the young roster. Plus, this team struggled with scoring outside of its top line. Stastny and Nathan MacKinnon as a 1-2 center punch would allow this team to line up with many top clubs in the Central.
Be careful of overpaying for Bozak, a likely consolation prize if they miss out on Stastny. There's interest between the Avs and the former Maple Leaf. Make no mistake, Bozak does a lot of things well -- but ideally he's a bottom-six forward at this point. And he should be paid as such.
Cap space: $19,820,001
Targets in free agency, trades: C John Tavares, RW Tobias Rieder, G Jonathan Bernier, G Jaroslav Halak, G Carter Hutton, G Kari Lehtonen
The offseason is a win if Dallas -- the biggest long shot in the Tavares sweepstakes -- somehow comes out on top. But really, if they miss out on the prized center, the Stars would win the offseason by just staying quiet. GM Jim Nill made a huge splash last season, and as his team prepares to adjust to yet another head coach, Jim Montgomery, resisting other team's discards might not be a bad thing.
Be careful of signing risky free agents, a year after that same move backfired. Be wary of committing too much money in free agency, period. Remember, Nill needs to sort out an extension for Tyler Seguin soon. A player of Tavares' caliber is an exception; if Tavares is willing to come, figure it out. But if not, Nill should consider remaining nimble for future flexibility. After all, it might be a season of transition for the Stars.
Cap space: $11,932,243
Targets in free agency, trades: C Tyler Bozak, C Jay Beagle, C Kyle Brodziak, C Derek Ryan, LW Patrick Maroon
The offseason is a win if they can trade some roster players. New GM Paul Fenton inherited a decent lineup, but one that has been unable to get over the playoff hump. To establish his voice as GM, he'll need to unload some contracts he doesn't like (perhaps Charlie Coyle, Nino Niederreiter or Zucker, who is due to get paid). If he's looking to maintain, just small adds are needed -- like center depth.
Be careful of doing something drastic. Trading Eric Staal? Now that's a dramatic move. Deciding against keeping Zucker might not make as many waves, but it still might be rash for the new GM -- especially with the season Zucker had in 2017-18. Although Fenton wants to infuse his voice, the truth is the Wild's roster is loaded and could very well win next season with only small tweaks.
Cap space: $12,000,834
Targets in free agency, trades: D John Moore, C/RW Riley Nash, LW James van Riemsdyk
The offseason is a win if the Predators stand pat. Nashville still boasts one of the most talented and complete rosters in the league and should expect just about everybody back, minus Mike Fisher, Hartnell -- who will look for opportunities elsewhere -- and probably Emelin. GM David Poile should prioritize a Ryan Ellis extension this summer, then save the cap room for a trade deadline move, if needed.
Be careful of making a splash for the sake of making a splash. Listening to Poile's comments this offseason, it doesn't seem likely the Predators will be big players in free agency or the trade market. However, with P.K. Subban's name a constant on the trade rumor circuit, we're putting this in writing, just in case. And they're reportedly one of the clubs in the John Tavares chase as well.
Cap space: $16,617,345
Players hitting UFA: LW Scottie Upshall, C Kyle Brodziak, G Carter Hutton
Targets in free agency, trades: LW Artemi Panarin, LW Jeff Skinner, C Ryan O'Reilly, C Tyler Bozak, C Paul Stastny, C Kyle Brodziak, LW Thomas Vanek, G Jaroslav Halak, G Anton Khudobin, G Ondrej Palat, G Eddie Lack
The offseason is a win if they snag one of the bigger names on the market. The Blues are perennially mentioned as one of the teams in the hunt for superstars but never seem to finish on top. (For example, long viewing themselves as a destination for John Tavares, they were not one of the handful of teams to receive a meeting.) They know they need some firepower alongside Vladimir Tarasenko.
Be careful of reaching out of desperation. The Blues' roster sure could use a scoring winger or a depth center -- O'Reilly feels like a perfect fit here -- but if the price is too high, GM Doug Armstrong is surely to regret it later.
Cap space: $25,097,502
Targets in free agency, trades: C Paul Stastny
The offseason is a win if the Jets can figure out a way to retain all of their important RFAs and somehow squeeze in a contract for Stastny as well. It's going to be difficult considering just how many players need new contracts; GM Kevin Cheveldayoff would need to get a current roster player off the books to work in Stastny. More likely, the Jets will keep most of their RFAs and make a long-term extension for Patrik Laine the other summer priority.
Be careful of the Laine contract. Cheveldayoff will probably sort out his RFA crunch before he begins working on the star Finnish winger's new contract in earnest. Laine, meanwhile, might want to wait for the market to set -- especially keeping an eye on Auston Matthews in Toronto. If you pay Laine now, you probably know his worth. Wait until the season starts and you risk him starting out with a bang; then the price goes even higher.
Cap space: $13,741,667
Targets in free agency, trades: C Tyler Bozak or some better solution at center, D Calvin de Haan, D Jack Johnson
The offseason is a win if GM Bob Murray is able to improve his team while also bringing down its average age, especially at the center position, where the question mark over Ryan Kesler's health looms large. It would also be a win if Murray can get some "cost certainty" on Jakob Silfverberg, Adam Henrique and especially John Gibson, who are all free agents next summer.
Be careful of trading away Montour for help in other places in the lineup, because he's quite good. That holds for any of the next wave of Ducks prospects, for that matter.
Cap space: $22,541,391
Players hitting RFA: C Laurent Dauphin
Targets in free agency, trades: LW Anthony Duclair, RW Michael Grabner, LW/RW James Neal, LW David Perron, LW/RW Tobias Rieder, LW James van Riemsdyk
The offseason is a win if GM John Chayka can find some more scoring on the wing, which is his stated goal. Unrestricted free agency offers a few options, including two Golden Knights, Perron and Neal. Chayka has plenty of cap room to spend.
Be careful of giving up on Christian Dvorak. The 22-year-old forward, entering the last year of his entry-level deal, was rumored to be in a trade proposal with the Wild before Max Domi was instead traded to Montreal. Dvorak hasn't really had a breakout season yet, but he has a world of potential.
Cap space: $24,488,290
Targets in free agency, trades: C Derek Ryan, LW Anthony Duclair, RW Michael Grabner, LW/RW James Neal
The offseason is a win if the Dougie Hamilton trade is actually a good hockey deak and not some old-school hockey nonsense in which a guy who didn't "fit in with the boys" or had the gall to complain about his ice time was shipped out in a trade where he is demonstrably the best player. Oh, and if the players they acquired from the Hurricanes actually like playing for their former coach Bill Peters, as there is speculation that they didn't.
Be careful of overspending for UFA scoring help on the wing. The trade route might be a better option.
Cap space: $10,903,834
The offseason is a win if the Oilers get a legitimate power-play quarterback on defense. That could mean an all-around player like Faulk, who is very much available from the Hurricanes. Or perhaps a player like Krug ... hey, maybe Boston would be interested in a slightly used, money-retained Milan Lucic?
Be careful of GM Peter Chiarelli moving out talent for the sake of filling a particular need. Or, like, making any kind of trade, for that matter.
Cap space: $3,179,773
Players hitting RFA: None
Targets in free agency, trades: After Ilya Kovalchuk, are there any?
The offseason is a win if GM Rob Blake was right on Kovalchuk, the 35-year-old Russian star whose services the Kings won by offering a third contract year; and if Blake is able to end the drama and get defenseman Drew Doughty under contract this summer, with the acknowledgement that the compensation is going to be considerable.
Be careful of assuming the bottom six on this team doesn't need some tinkering, despite the cap considerations L.A. has.
Cap space: $18,842,916
Targets in free agency, trades: C John Tavares, LW Max Pacioretty, LW Jeff Skinner, RW Michael Grabner
The offseason is a win if Tavares is a San Jose Shark for the next seven years. Barring that, if the Sharks add another significant goal scorer to their top six, get Thornton back and then GM Doug Wilson hands out smartly budgeted extensions to Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture, both of whom are free agents next summer.
Be careful of moving 29-year-old goalie Aaron Dell for some help at the forward position. Yes, Martin Jones is a dependable starter, but Dell is an affordable luxury to have an as insurance policy. And with a clear window to win next season, they should keep that insurance.
Cap space: $25,213,821
Targets in free agency, trades: C Jay Beagle, C Tyler Bozak, C Riley Nash, C Derek Ryan
The offseason is a win if the Canucks find the right veteran center to play behind Bo Horvat and Brandon Sutter. There are more than a few options that fit the description, as GM Jim Benning knows this is a "proper development" build back to contention for the team, post-Sedins.
Be careful of trading Chris Tanev, as tantalizing as that might be. He could easily be part of the solution for this team while remaining with the Canucks, rather than being one as a trade asset.
Cap space: $30,975,000
Targets in free agency, trades: C John Tavares, D Erik Karlsson
The offseason is a win if the Golden Knights reel in a big fish. As owner Bill Foley said, the timeline for winning has been moved up after Vegas made the Stanley Cup Final. They're in a position, financially, to make a run at Tavares, consider Erik Karlsson or any number of other moves.
Be careful of going more than five years and $5 million annually with William Karlsson, who should instead come in right around where linemates Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith are (both at $5 million), if not a little less on the cap.