While the Vegas Golden Knights and the rest of the sporting world have been on lockdown, the NFL stepped forward to take center stage this week.
Despite the fact that the Vegas Golden Knights and the rest of the NHL are currently on hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, the National Football League still went ahead with Free Agency.
And what a few days it was.
The headline, obviously, will be the bombshell news that Tom Brady actually did it. He actually decided to leave the New England Patriots in order to sign for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which is still awaiting official confirmation.
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But that was just the icing on top of the cake.
Because, in addition to a plethora of high-profile free agent signings, there was also a slew of stunning and jaw-dropping trades.
It started on Monday when the Houston Texans got absolutely fleeced, sending one of the best wide receivers in the game in DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals for a bad David Johnson contract in addition to a second and fourth-round pick.
That sent seismic waves throughout the NFL landscape but there were more major moves to digest.
Quarterback Nick Foles was traded to the Chicago Bears, and the Cleveland Browns bolstered their roster by making Austin Hooper the highest-paid tight end in the NFL, while also signing right tackle Jack Conklin.
The rebuilding Carolina Panthers made Teddy Bridgewater their franchise quarterback while putting Cam Newton on the trading block, and the Buffalo Bills made some noise by acquiring one of the premier wide receivers in the game in Stefon Diggs from the Minnesota Vikings.
- You can catch up on all the analysis of NFL Free Agency via our excellent team at FanSided right here.
But, why are we talking about the NFL when this is a hockey site?
Well, the answer is simple.
With all the blockbuster moves going down in the NFL this week, it made us look ahead to the NHL Free Agency period, which is due to open on July, 1.
Although this year’s class lacks the true star power of last year’s Free Agency, which included big names in the ilk of Artemi Panarin, there could still be some top-tier talent available.
Here are a few of the big hitters that could become available:
Alex Pietrangelo in particular would be a huge addition for the Golden Knights given that they crave a real horse on the blueline, and we dived into why they should make a move for the St. Louis Blues Captain here.
Now, granted, things are right up in the air right now due to the coronavirus and the fact that the NHL is on hiatus will no doubt have a significant impact on the Salary Cap for 2020-21.
There was a report that suggested the cap could rise from $81.5 million to up to as much as $88 million, although that kind of spike was unlikely to happen due to the escrow issue.
And, with it being no sure-thing that hockey will even return this year, it wouldn’t be surprising if the cap plummeted.
However, let’s not be all doom and gloom at the moment as we all need some brightness in our life right now.
Let’s presume the cap will fall around the $84 million mark, which would still be a pretty substantial increase.
Given the parity in the league at the moment, coupled with the fact that the New York Rangers are coming out of their rebuild, there will be a plethora of teams looking to significantly bolster their roster in the off-season.
While there won’t be a luxury of high-profile free agents on the market, that could lead to a slew of blockbuster trades similar to what we saw in the NFL this week as teams try to keep one step ahead of each other.
As far as the Golden Knights are concerned, they are likely to be in the market for a goalie given that they are unlikely to be able to keep both Robin Lehner and Marc-Andre Fleury, while they could do with a puck-moving defenseman.
They also need to add some secondary scoring to their lineup, so it could well be a busy off-season as the front office continues to chase a Stanley Cup.
As it stands, the Golden Knights are set to have around $12 million in cap space with which to play with, although that could change depending on how high the Salary Cap rises.
But, make no doubt about it, both the Golden Knights and the rest of the contenders will look to make moves once free agency opens, even if it isn’t quite as exciting as what unfolded last year.
And, while the NHL may not have a Tom Brady figure to speculate about in the lead-up to free agency, expect it to still be pretty wild come July, 1 given some of the names that could be available.