As the season comes to an end, the NHL is still trying to figure out how much of a role a new, expanded salary cap will have in the game’s future.
With that in mind, here are some of the best players available in the league right now.
Alexander Semin Alexander Semin is still a free agent, but the Boston Bruins have signed him to a two-year, $6.5 million contract extension.
That’s a significant increase over the $4 million per year he earned last season.
Semin also has four goals and eight assists in 62 games.
He’s still one of the games best defensive defensemen, and his offensive game will likely see him earn more playing time.
The Bruins need help up front, so they might have to move on to find a new scoring option in the coming years.
Nathan MacKinnon Nathan Mackinnon has been a productive NHL defenseman, but he’s a little more of a project than he was a year ago.
He signed a six-year contract extension with the New York Rangers in July that reportedly has him earning $9 million per season through the 2022-23 season.
MacKampins offensive game was a little bit off last season, but if he can stay healthy and put up the same numbers this year, it might be worth the money.
Matt Duchene Matt Duchen is one of two top offensive defensemen in the NHL.
Duchene is a career .917 save percentage goalie, and he has helped the New Jersey Devils to two playoff appearances in the last three seasons.
Duchen will be 35 in December, so his offensive production could fall off as he ages.
Milan Lucic Milan Lucis has been on the decline for years, but with the Colorado Avalanche coming off a second straight Stanley Cup, the 27-year-old defenseman could be a big piece to keep around in 2018.
He has 15 goals and 28 assists in 74 games with the Avalanche this season.
Jonathan Drouin Jonathan Dromont was a productive defenseman last season with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
He made the NHL All-Star Game in 2017, and has five goals and 20 assists in 75 games.
Drouins defensive game is good, but his offense could suffer as he gets older.
Milan Michalek Milan Michaleks offensive game is better than Drouis, but there is still plenty of room for improvement for the Czech defenseman.
He is currently on a two year deal worth $5.8 million per.
He could be looking for a contract extension at some point in the future, but this season could be his last chance to prove that he is the kind of offensive defenseman that will help the Penguins win a Stanley Cup.
Daniel Alfredsson Daniel Alfredsson is a good, big, physical defenseman that can skate and shoot the puck well.
He will be 36 in January, and while his offensive output might dip, he has still put up big numbers.
Alfredsson will be a free-agent at the end of the season, and a new contract is unlikely to be signed before then.
Milan Havlat Milan Havlats offensive game could fall a bit further as he approaches his 40th birthday.
Havlat has just 11 goals and 41 assists in 72 games this season, which is a drop from his best season, when he scored 51 goals and 82 assists in 73 games.
Havlat has struggled to score this season with only one assist in nine games.
Chris Kelly Chris Kelly has had a down year with the Anaheim Ducks.
He was a very effective blueliner in Anaheim’s playoff run, but Kelly has yet to lead the team in scoring.
He’ll be 38 in January and his defensive game will also likely fall off.
Anton Stralman Anton Stalman has had an impressive year in the AHL, scoring six goals and 14 assists in 32 games this year.
He also has five assists in seven playoff games.
Alex Pietrangelo Alex Pietrus is a versatile defenseman, who can play either right or left wing.
He scored seven goals and nine assists in 59 games last season in the KHL.
Chris Wagner Chris Wagner has been one of NHL’s most consistent offensive players.
The Pittsburgh Penguins signed him on a four-year deal worth an average of $7.5 to $8 million, which could push him to another deal in 2018, or 2019.
Jonathan Huberdeau Jonathan Hubertdeau is still on a one-year entry-level contract, but that should be extended beyond that.
Huber has been steady and solid in his first few NHL seasons, and will be 27 in February.
Ryan Kesler Ryan Kesl has had several injury-shortened seasons, but one thing that hasn’t been as long is his production.
Kesl was a strong offensive defenseman last year, but injuries have hampered his ability to produce in the past few years. 15