Eastern Conference NHL Free Agents Who Are Trending Down


It is time to dig a little deeper when it comes to free agency. Gauging who is trending up or down can be an informative tool. This can be helpful when looking at those who are performing in their “free agency seasons”.

This spans to forwards, defensemen, and goaltenders as well. Typically, we will start our focus on unrestricted free agents. Down the road, restricted free agents may be added.

Anyway, let’s examine those that are trending down.

Frank Vatrano (C) – Florida Panthers

There was this hope that Frank Vatrano would turn the corner somewhat. The Florida Panthers are a team full of depth and the pivot was on pace for 26 goals last season. He had 58 goals in 196 games in his last three years for Florida. That was respectable given his middle-six ice time.

The problem is his play has dipped and so has his ice time. Vatrano is playing just over 12 minutes a night now and lately lower than that. Florida has seen little from the forward. He has just two assists in his last ten games and his value just plummets. Vatrano could even be traded

Nino Niederreiter (LW) – Carolina Hurricanes

Now, Nino Niederreiter has not played that poorly. It is just more was expected out of the forward. He does have 14 goals in 38 games but goals and even points have come slower over the past 14 contests. Niederreiter has scored just four times and added two helpers in that span.

It continues a trend that has persisted since that initial breakout. Since his 30 points in 36 games after a trade from the Minnesota Wild, things just have not been the same for the Swiss winger. He is back to playing minimally on the man advantage with middle-six minutes. That will limit his salary come free agency.

Cal Clutterbuck (RW) – New York Islanders

The forward continues to trend downward as the New York Islanders struggle to recover from an early-season slump. Cal Clutterbuck is what he is. He hits players, is physical, and creates energy for the other lines. Offense is a bonus as Clutterbuck has just five goals and six assists in 40 games.

Despite three assists in his last five games, Father Time is the biggest reason why Clutterbuck will trend down come free agency. He will be 35 early next season and teams will not pay him an AAV of $3.5 million. The economies of scale are not with Clutterbuck.

P.K. Subban- New Jersey Devils

The trade to the New Jersey Devils just did not work out for P.K. Subban. Some can point to COVID as a factor but the main problem was a declining skill set. Now, Subban has played better this season. Then again, he is also playing almost three minutes a game less which has curtailed some of his mistakes.

Subban certainly will not make $9 million AAV in his next deal. He is worth maybe a fraction of that. His inability to hit the net along with a tendency to still make heinous mistakes defensively will limit his options. Maybe someone takes a chance with that shot and somewhat physical presence.

Nick LeddyDetroit Red Wings

It is unfortunate that Nick Leddy has seen such a decline offensively. A young team like the Detroit Red Wings could have used that kind of production. However, Leddy has just a goal and 11 assists in 44 games.

Leddy has seen his numbers take a tumble in almost every category. To be fair, goals are not his strong suit but assists have taken a huge dive on the power play (just three). The defenseman is still playing over 21 minutes a night but his shortcomings have been exposed. It is safe to say he will not make $5.5 million AAV next season.

Joonas KorpisaloColumbus Blue Jackets

So, Joonas Korpisalo has always been a risk when it comes to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Now, he is just a liability. He had played a bit better in winning his last two starts. However, Korpisalo has given up three or more goals in six of his last seven appearances. Worse, his 3.81 goals-against average just is not good enough.

Korpisalo may wind up in Europe at this rate. Yes, Columbus has had a horrid season but an .887 save percentage is AHL level numbers. The Blue Jackets are more likely to move on and offers will be few if the goaltender stays on this side of the pond.

Next up, will be the Western Conference free-agents that are trending up. Thanks again for reading.

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