Originally published July 12th.
What an offseason it has been already. A 40-goal scorer, an 85-point powerhouse, and a two-time Stanley Cup champion were all dealt within a few days of each other, as Alex DeBrincat, Kevin Fiala, and Ryan McDonagh all found new homes. The draft brought its own fireworks, with Juraj Slafkovsky completing his rocketship rise to be selected first overall, and players like Alexander Romanov, Kirby Dach, and Zack Kassian all finding themselves on the move.
After all of that, the focus is now on the free agent market and this week’s feeding frenzy. Wednesday afternoon a huge number of players will hit the open seas, able to pursue money and glory with a new team. Depending on what happens over the next 48 hours there are first-line players, future Hall of Famers, and award winners available, along with plenty of depth options. With the salary cap only barely inching upward, teams will have to carefully decide which veteran to pay and which to let go.
After giving teams plenty of time to announce extensions (you couldn’t wait a few days to sign, Valeri Nichushkin?), it’s time to unveil our Top 50 Unrestricted Free Agent List. The rankings were voted on by the PHR writing team, based on a combination of talent and projected demand, not necessarily their total dollar amounts.
All predictions are independent and have no bearing on each other, while each player is presumed to be signing a one-way contract. Retirement, Europe, and professional tryouts are real possibilities for many of them, but those options have not been used as predictions. The voting was done after Colin White was bought out but before the qualifying offer deadline, meaning players like Dylan Strome and Ilya Samsonov were not included.
1. Johnny Gaudreau – Philadelphia Flyers – 7 years, $70.0MM ($10.0MM AAV)
A unanimous selection in the top spot, Gaudreau is one of the best players to ever make it to unrestricted free agency in their prime. His career-best 115-point season was good enough for second in the NHL (tied with Jonathan Huberdeau), and he won’t turn 29 for another month. Gaudreau should become one of the highest-paid players in the league on Wednesday–or before if he’s able to work out a deal with Calgary–and is the jewel on top of an impressive group of free agents this year.
Signed in Columbus, 7 years, $68.25MM ($9.75MM AAV)
2. Nazem Kadri – Seattle Kraken – 6 years, $48.0MM ($8.0MM AAV)
Kadri established himself as a quality number two center in the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs, hitting a career-high 61 points in 2016-17. This year, however, Kadri had a true breakout season, becoming a star with 28 goals and 87 points, followed up with a tremendous playoff en route to a Stanley Cup. Soon to be 32 years old, Kadri is in line for a major payday from what should be a long list of suitors but could see his term reigned in a bit given his age.
Signed in Calgary, 7 years, $49MM ($7.0MM AAV)
3. Patrice Bergeron – Boston Bruins – 1 year, $5.0MM
This Boston Bruins legend will find himself in the Hockey Hall of Fame someday, but until then, his future remains a question. Bergeron left it up in the air at the end of the season, with some recent reports suggesting he would return to the Bruins on a one-year deal, though nothing has materialized yet. If there was any indication that the legendary center would be willing to go somewhere other than Boston, he likely ends up in the second spot on our list. As it stands, he’ll have to settle for third place.
Re-signed with Boston, one year, $2.5MM in base salary and $2.5MM in games played bonuses
4. Evgeni Malkin – Washington Capitals – 3 years, $21.0MM ($7.0MM AAV)
A career-Penguin, Malkin’s tenure in the Steel City may be coming to an end shortly, with no new deal in place. The three-time Cup champ has dealt with his share of injuries the past few seasons and though that may affect his value, his production has not dropped off when he is on the ice, recording 144 points in his last 129 regular-season games. At 36 (on July 31st), Malkin may not get a long-term deal but brings plenty of value to a team looking to add a dynamic veteran to their lineup.
Re-signed in Pittsburgh, 4 years, $24.4MM ($6.1MM AAV)
5. John Klingberg – Carolina Hurricanes – 6 years, $42.0MM ($7.0MM AAV)
Regarded as one of the better puck-moving defensemen of his generation, Klingberg is set to hit the open market for the first time in his career this summer, and recent reports suggest will not be returning to Dallas. Klingberg’s production has fallen off a bit since his 67-point 2017-18, but as a heads-up, veteran right-handed defenseman he will always be a valuable commodity in the NHL.
Signed in Anaheim, 1 year, $7MM
6. Claude Giroux – Ottawa Senators – 3 years, $19.5MM ($6.5MM AAV)
Giroux was a part of one of the biggest trade deadline blockbusters in recent history when he was dealt to the Florida Panthers, ending his time in Philadelphia after exactly 1,000 games (and 900 points). The veteran has been linked to a handful of teams already and rightfully so, given his still-stellar production. He may not be capable of being the centerpiece for a team at this point in his career but could be the extra weapon an established group needs to take the next step, much as he was expected to be for Florida this spring.
Signed in Ottawa, 3 years, $19.5MM ($6.5MM AAV)
7. Vincent Trocheck – Pittsburgh Penguins – 6 years, $36.0MM ($6.0 AAV)
Far from the biggest name on this list, Trocheck has been one of the most proven commodities in the league throughout his career. The veteran center peaked in 2017-18 with a 75-point season, and though he hasn’t hit that since he has shown he can be a point-producing two-way pivot capable of playing in a team’s top-six, something NHL teams have shown to value highly year after year.
Signed with Rangers, 7 years, $39.375MM ($5.625MM AAV)
8. Darcy Kuemper – Washington Capitals – 4 years, $22.0MM ($5.5MM AAV)
If there was ever a time for Kuemper to be a free agent, this is it. The 32-year-old goaltender was given the net in Colorado and didn’t disappoint, recording a .921 save percentage and 2.54 goals-against average in 57 games before helping to lead the Avalanche to a Stanley Cup Championship, contributing despite several postseason injuries. The fact that the goaltending market is incredibly thin this year should only drive his price skyward, and land him a contract that will take him close to retirement.
Signed in Washington, 5 years, $26.25MM ($5.25MM AAV)
9. Andrew Copp – New Jersey Devils – 5 years, $30MM ($6.0MM AAV)
Copp has spent his career as a gritty middle-six forward that could contribute a little bit on offense. This season was a different story with that little bit growing to 53 points. Eighteen of which came in just 16 games after a trade to the New York Rangers, adding another 14 in 20 playoff games in a deep run. The forward will now look to cash in on his strong performance this offseason.
Signed in Detroit, 5 years, $28.125MM ($5.625MM AAV)
10. Ondrej Palat – Detroit Red Wings – 3 years, $15.9MM ($5.3MM AAV)
As an NHLer, Palat has only ever known the Tampa Bay Lightning, appearing in 628 regular season games and 138 playoff games, which has included four Stanley Cup final appearances, winning two of them. Despite the Lightning clearing some cap space by moving McDonagh, it’s still a tight squeeze in Tampa Bay. Palat is coming off another quality regular season and the strongest playoff performance of his career, where he had 21 points in 23 games. Now, he will have the chance to choose where he brings his Stanley Cup pedigree.
Signed in New Jersey, 5 years, $30MM ($6.0MM AAV)
11. Ryan Strome – Dallas Stars – 5 years, $29.0MM ($5.8MM AAV)
Drafted fifth overall in 2011, Strome failed to live up to the lofty expectations associated with being a high pick and was eventually dealt by the New York Islanders to the Edmonton Oilers in 2017. After a subsequent trade to the New York Rangers, Strome broke out in 2019-20, establishing himself as the team’s number two center, and one of the best in that role in the entire league. After three consecutive strong seasons in Manhattan, Strome will hit the market looking to provide offense up the middle to a team willing to pay.
Signed in Anaheim, 5 years, $25MM ($5.0MM AAV)
12. Andre Burakovsky – Buffalo Sabres – 4 years, $20.0MM ($5.0MM AAV)
Burakovsky never put up more than 38 points in a single season with the Washington Capitals before being dealt to the Colorado Avalanche in 2019. He took a step forward out west, hitting 45 and 44 points in 58 and 53 games respectively, taking another step this season, notching 61 points in 80 games. The winger’s production should lead to a contract with both appealing salary and term, however questions regarding his consistency could play a factor in just how much he can get on the open market.
Signed in Seattle, 5 years, $27.5MM ($5.5MM AAV)
13. David Perron – St. Louis Blues – 2 years, $12.0MM ($6.0MM AAV)
In his career, Perron has played for the St. Louis Blues, Edmonton Oilers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Anaheim Ducks, and Vegas Golden Knights. As a veteran who is almost always good for at least 50 points per season, Perron will be expected to have plenty of demand should he reach the open market, which may make it hard to predict where he goes. But in trying to answer that question, it’s worth remembering that, despite playing for five different teams, he has only ever signed an NHL contract with the Blues. That’s not a guarantee, but it certainly is food for thought.
Signed in Detroit, 2 years, $9.5MM ($4.75MM AAV)
14. Jack Campbell – Edmonton Oilers – 5 years, $27.5MM ($5.5MM AAV)
One of the highest-drafted goaltenders over the past 15 years, Campbell went 11th overall to the Dallas Stars in 2010. After struggling for years to put it all together, the 30-year-old netminder found his groove in Los Angeles and then became the starter in Toronto. Now sitting with a career .915 save percentage in 142 appearances, there are some betting on him as a true starter and that’s likely what will drive a big payday this week.
Signed in Edmonton, 5 years, $25MM ($5.0MM AAV)
15. Evander Kane – Edmonton Oilers – 5 years, $32.5MM ($6.5MM)
If you looked at nothing but numbers, you might wonder why a 30-year-old winger who scored at a near 50-goal pace last season would be ranked this low. It’s anything but numbers for Kane though, and his drop down the list represents how the market sees him. Among some teams in the league, he is completely off-limits, while even the Edmonton Oilers–where he found instant chemistry with Connor McDavid–are worried about offering him a long-term contract. There’s no doubt that he can be a force in the league, but with a grievance hearing still weighing over his free agency and a history of off-ice concerns, his market isn’t anywhere near as big as it could be.
Re-signed in Edmonton. 4 years, $20.5MM ($5.125MM AAV)
16. Josh Manson – Anaheim Ducks – 4 years, $16.0MM ($4.0MM AAV)
Watching Manson in Colorado’s defense-activating system, you could be forgiven for thinking he was known more for his offense than anything else. During the team’s Stanley Cup run he was routinely jumping into the rush and ended up scoring three goals on 39 shots, showing that he might be a little more than the stay-at-home role he’d settled into for the Anaheim Ducks. Manson still isn’t an excellent puck-mover but brings a high level of physicality, strong defensive instincts, and now the experience from a successful Stanley Cup run. The fact that he’s right-handed and 6’3″ only adds to his profile and should intrigue plenty of teams around the league.
Re-signed in Colorado, 4 years, $18MM ($4.5MM AAV)
17. Reilly Smith – Vegas Golden Knights – 3 years, $15.0MM ($5.0MM AAV)
An original misfit, Smith found a home with the Vegas Golden Knights, operating as a top-six winger for the last five seasons and racking up 230 points in 321 games. His outstanding penalty-killing ability is part of what makes him stand out as a free agent option, a talent that many offensive players don’t possess. His versatility and popularity make him a good fit to return to Vegas, though until a deal is actually announced, there will be teams circling like sharks, hoping to get a chance.
Re-signed in Vegas, 3 years, $15MM ($5.0MM AAV)
18. Mason Marchment – Calgary Flames – 5 years, $22.5MM ($4.5MM AAV)
This should have been the best moment of Marchment’s life. Cashing in on a huge payday after working his way from undrafted minor league free agent playing in the ECHL, to a near point-per-game performer for the Florida Panthers. Unfortunately, the unexpected death of his father and San Jose Sharks scout Bryan Marchment has put a dark cloud over the proceedings. No one would fault the 27-year-old free agent for taking his time before signing a deal but there will certainly be teams calling, wanting to add an in-your-face physical winger that showed he was capable of hanging with the big boys, posting 18 goals and 47 points in 53 games this season.
Signed in Dallas, 4 years, $18MM ($4.5MM AAV)
19. Nino Niederreiter – New York Islanders – 4 years, $16.8MM ($4.2MM AAV)
Speaking of versatile, physical wingers, Niederreiter had a nice bounce-back campaign with the Carolina Hurricanes this season, racking up 24 goals and 44 points in 75 games. While he may not be a dynamic first-line player, there’s a lot to be said about a big, fast, forward that is capable of scoring 20+ goals and racking up 100+ hits every year. He doesn’t penalty kill, and he won’t drive offense on a line, but if you want to add some juice to the middle six, this Swiss forward still has plenty of game left.
Signed in Nashville, 2 years, $8MM ($4MM AAV)
20. Ben Chiarot – Los Angeles Kings – 3 years, $10.5MM ($3.5MM AAV)
It’s safe to say that the Florida Panthers might regret paying a first-round pick (and more) for Chiarot at the deadline, given he ended up averaging just 17 minutes a night for them in the postseason. That doesn’t mean his market will be limited this summer though, as teams look at the length, mobility, and frankly the meanness of this 31-year-old defenseman. Chiarot can be brutally effective in front of his own net, is coming off a career-high 26 points, and has the experience of a Stanley Cup run under his belt. Even if Florida wasn’t a perfect fit, teams will be calling.
Signed in Detroit, 4 years, $19MM ($4.75MM AAV)
21. Ilya Mikheyev – Tampa Bay Lightning – 3 years, $11.4MM ($3.8MM AAV)
When agent Dan Milstein called Mikheyev the best undrafted KHL free agent since Artemi Panarin, many people scoffed at the notion. He just might have been correct though, as the 27-year-old has developed into a valuable two-way presence that is among the most effective penalty-killers in the league and just scored 21 goals in 53 games. With blinding speed and an active stick, Mikheyev is able to disrupt just about any kind of play and quickly counterattack. If his offensive skills were just a little more polished, we might be looking at a dominant player. As it is, he’ll fit into most team’s middle-six and change the makeup of their short-handed units.
Signed in Vancouver, 4 years, $19MM ($4.75MM AAV)
22. Paul Stastny – Colorado Avalanche – 1 year, $3.0MM
Stastny and Winnipeg appeared to be a perfect fit but the veteran center has expressed a desire to play for a contender as his career starts to inch near completion. The Jets don’t look like they’re going to be that over the next few years, meaning the 36-year-old might go chasing a deal somewhere else. It might surprise some to know that Stastny had 21 goals and 45 points this season, while still being an excellent faceoff option (even if he’s not always playing the middle anymore). For teams looking for some experience a little further down in the lineup, you could certainly do worse than a pivot with 800 points in his career.
23. Phil Kessel – Nashville Predators – 2 years, $4.0MM ($2.0MM AAV)
A lot of the same things could be said about Kessel, who just continues to suit up for every game his team plays, and rack up points at a strong pace. The iron man hasn’t missed a game in more than a decade, and still had 52 points in 2021-22 despite now being 34 years old. He’ll turn 35 before next season begins, has always been questioned on his conditioning, and isn’t the same offensive talent he was in his prime, but Kessel still deserves a spot somewhere around the league, snapping passes around on the powerplay and firing bullets past goaltenders from his off-wing.
24. Evan Rodrigues – Minnesota Wild – 3 years, $9.0MM ($3.0MM AAV)
At the opposite end of the spectrum is Rodrigues, who has only just established himself as a top-six player this season, racking up 19 goals and 43 points while playing a ton of minutes with Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel. Can the undrafted forward be relied on to produce with less-skilled linemates, or is he a product of opportunity in Pittsburgh? That’s the risk involved with any multi-year deal for the 28-year-old, and a question that could keep his pricetag reasonable this week.
25. Nick Leddy – Anaheim Ducks – 3 years, $9.6MM ($3.2MM AAV)
It’s now 851 regular season games and another 130 playoff contests for the 31-year-old Leddy, who continues to long big minutes wherever he goes. Still a smooth skater that can glide around the ice or carry the puck through the neutral zone, it was an up-and-down year for him in Detroit and then St. Louis, following a deadline trade. Because of that and the seven-year, $38.5MM contract that he’s coming off of that seemed like an overpayment by the end, there might be a bit of a buy-low opportunity here for a savvy front office to add experience at a decreased cost. Leddy isn’t really a difference-maker anymore but he can certainly still carry a regular role.
Re-signed in St. Louis, 4 years, $16MM ($4.0MM AAV)
26. Frank Vatrano – New York Rangers – 4 years, $14.0MM ($3.5MM AAV)
While the focus was on some of the other trade deadline acquisitions in New York, Vatrano made one of the biggest impacts, scoring eight goals and 13 points in just 22 games down the stretch. The versatile winger can chip in from the third line or hold his own as a complementary piece in the top six, and has done nothing but find the net over the past four seasons. Since the start of the 2018-19 campaign, Vatrano has 76 goals in 277 games–an 82-game pace of 22 goals–despite averaging just over 14 minutes a night.
Signed in Anaheim, 3 years, $10.95MM ($3.65MM AAV)
27. Nikita Zadorov – Columbus Blue Jackets – 3 years, $9.0MM ($3.0MM AAV)
There was a time that Zadorov was a frustrating mix of defensive lapses, brutal giveaways, and huge open-ice hits. The hits are still there but after work with Flames coach Darryl Sutter this season, it appears as though the first two issues may have been corrected. Zadorov was part of a very effective third-pairing in Calgary and the team outscored opponents 49-38 with him on the ice. He even reached a career-best 22 points, and racked up 106 shots on net in 74 games. Still, his inconsistent history might make teams a little wary of giving him a long-term deal.
Re-signed in Calgary, 2 years, $7.5MM ($3.75MM AAV)
28. Brett Kulak – Edmonton Oilers – 2 years, $5.0MM ($2.5MM AAV)
One of the more underappreciated parts of the Oilers’ long playoff run might have been the performance of Kulak, who continued to provide quite, effective defense whenever he was on the ice. The 28-year-old is never going to be a big, bruising, force on the backend, but instead uses his mobility and reach to shutdown rush chances. It was also a good time to record a career-high of 21 points, though teams won’t be after him for his offense.
Re-signed in Edmonton, 4 years, $11MM ($2.75MM AAV)
29. Calle Jarnkrok – Detroit Red Wings – 2 years, $6.0MM ($3.0MM AAV)
In 2016, after a breakout 16-goal season, Jarnkrok took security over everything and accepted a six-year, $12MM contract with the Nashville Predators. It ended up costing him some serious money, as he became a consistent two-way presence who certainly could have landed more than $2MM per season through his arbitration years, not to mention his first few eligible UFA seasons. Now 30, it’s been seven straight seasons of double-digit goals for the pending free agent, who can play both center and winger effectively enough to help any team.
Signed in Toronto, 4 years, $8.4MM ($2.1MM AAV)
30. Max Domi – Toronto Maple Leafs – 1 year, $2.5MM
Domi’s 28-goal, 72-point 2018-19 campaign seems like ancient history as he heads to market, following a season that saw his playing time drop to just 13 minutes a night. The idea that he can be relied on as a full-time center has been forgotten, and some of the goal-scoring issues from his early career have returned. There’s no one doubting his ability to create for teammates when he is engaged, but too often he settles for perimeter play despite having the strength and toughness to compete in more difficult areas. Still, as one of the younger options on the market–Domi only turned 27 in March–there will likely be teams tantalized by his previous results and confident they can get him back to that level.
Signed in Chicago, 1 year, $3.0MM
31. Alexander Edler – Calgary Flames – 1 year, $3.0MM
Remember when it seemed like Edler might be ready for retirement after struggling throughout the 2020-21 season? It doesn’t seem so dire for the 36-year-old defenseman this time around, after registering 19 points in 41 games with the Los Angeles Kings in a depth role. He’s not going to log 24 minutes a night anymore but there is something to be said for 966 games of NHL experience. To paraphrase Mike Babcock, when speaking about a similarly-aged Ron Hainsey: “he knows where to stand.”
Re-signed in Los Angeles, 1 year, $750K salary + $750K performance bonuses
32. Ilya Lyubushkin – Toronto Maple Leafs – 2 years, $3.0MM ($1.5MM AAV)
Lybushkin couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity just before free agency than he received this year. A midseason trade took him from the floundering Coyotes (where he had spent his entire career to that point) to the playoff-bound Maple Leafs, where he had a chance to showcase himself on a wider stage. While his weaknesses still showed–namely his footspeed, or lack thereof–Lyubushkin proved he could be a reliable depth option on the right side, capable of suppressing offense and adding physicality.
Signed in Buffalo, 2 years, $5.5MM ($2.75MM AAV)
33. Andreas Athanasiou – Arizona Coyotes – 2 years, $5.0MM ($2.5MM AAV)
He’s probably not ever going to come close to the 30-goal season he had in 2018-19 but Athanasiou’s blazing speed remains intriguing as he gets set to hit the open market again. In his injury-shortened season, he managed 11 goals in 28 games and there is still something to be said for a player who can generate regular odd-man rush opportunities, even if he’s not the best at converting them. If he’s looking at another one-year deal, there’s not a ton of risk in signing the speedster.
Signed in Chicago, 1 year, $3.0MM
34. Erik Gudbranson – Calgary Flames – 2 years, $4.0MM ($2.0MM AAV)
The 30-year-old has bounced around a lot in recent years, playing for half a dozen teams going back to 2018. But Gudbranson found a good home in Calgary as he provided his usual physical style on their third pairing while also chipping in with career numbers offensively. Teams shouldn’t expect him to suddenly become a consistent point contributor but his value is back on the upswing after being dragged down by an above-market contract not too long ago. He might not draw much attention on the first day of free agency but Gudbranson will be a fallback option for several teams.
Signed in Columbus, 4 years, $16MM ($4.0MM AAV)
35. Tyler Motte – Nashville Predators – 4 years, $7.0MM ($1.75MM AAV)
When healthy, Motte has been an effective energy winger. He can play on both wings, kill penalties, throw plenty of hits, and even chip in offensively from time to time. As far as fourth-liners go, that’s a quality combination. However, the issue is that the 27-year-old has had trouble staying healthy the last several years, including with the Rangers who added him at the trade deadline only to lose him a few weeks later. Teams generally don’t want to pay high price tags for fourth-liners but Motte should draw plenty of interest as if he can stay healthy for an entire season, he can be a very effective role player.
36. Justin Schultz – Arizona Coyotes – 1 year, $1.5MM
Schultz is now five years removed from his peak offensive output that saw him put up 51 points and at the age of 32, it’s unlikely he’s going to suddenly rediscover his scoring touch. But as a secondary producer from the back end and a right-hand shot, Schultz will have some suitors this summer at a lower price tag than the $4MM he made the last two seasons. Worth noting, that Washington dropped his ice time to a career-low 16:55 in 2021-22 which is likely an indicator of where interested teams should be slotting him onto their depth chart.
Signed in Seattle, 2 years, $6.0MM ($3.0MM AAV)
37. P.K. Subban – Seattle Kraken – 1 year, $2.0MM
Subban’s stock has fallen sharply compared to his best days in Montreal and New Jersey dropped him down their depth chart last season as he averaged a career-low 18:18 per game, a sign that they felt he is no longer a top-four defender. That opinion is likely shared across the league but in a limited role, the 33-year-old should be able to contribute for a few more years and as a right-shot defender, the King Clancy Award winner should have a decent market this summer.
38. Ian Cole – Washington Capitals – 1 year, $1.5MM
The 33-year-old has been a throwback stay-at-home physical defender throughout his 12-year NHL career. At this stage, he’s not someone that should be counted on to play upwards of 20 minutes a night but for teams looking for an edge on their third pairing while playing heavy shorthanded minutes, Cole is someone that should generate some attention once the top blueliners start to come off the board.
Signed in Tampa Bay, 1 year, $3.0MM
39. Vladislav Namestnikov – San Jose Sharks – 1 year, $1.75MM
Namestnikov has bounced around a lot in recent years, suiting up for five teams in the past three seasons alone. However, the 29-year-old has continued to be sought after for his versatility and consistent secondary production; Namestnikov has had at least 28 points in six of the past seven years. He shouldn’t be counted on to play in the top six when a team is fully healthy but as a third-liner that can move up when injuries arise, he’d fill a useful role for several teams.
Signed in Tampa Bay, 1 year, $2.5MM
40. Jan Rutta – Detroit Red Wings – 2 years, $3.5MM ($1.75MM AAV)
After being more of a depth player through his first four NHL seasons, Rutta had an opportunity to play a regular role with Tampa Bay and made the most of it, logging over 16 minutes a night while chipping in with 18 points. He has his limitations but as a right-shot defender, there should be several teams interested in a veteran third-pairing option with considerable playoff experience if Tampa Bay isn’t able to re-sign him before free agency opens up.
Signed in Pittsburgh, 3 years, $8.25MM ($2.75MM AAV)
41. Mattias Janmark – Boston Bruins – 2 years, $4.0MM ($2.0MM AAV)
Janmark hasn’t been able to break out offensively over his six-year NHL career, only surpassing the 30-point mark once. However, he can play up and down the lineup, kill penalties, and play all three forward positions. That type of versatility is always intriguing to teams and with strong speed, the 29-year-old should be able to generate enough interest to secure a multi-year commitment where he’ll likely once again hover around the 25-point-mark.
Signed in Edmonton, 1 year, $1.25MM
42. Colin White – Montreal Canadiens – 1 year, $1.2MM
White looked to have a breakout year in 2018-19 when he had 41 points, seemingly setting himself up to be a big part of Ottawa’s future plans. But he has struggled to produce and stay healthy since then, notching just 51 points in 130 games over the last three seasons combined. That led to Ottawa buying out the 25-year-old earlier this month. At his age, there should be several teams interested in buying low, especially since he still has another year of team control after 2022-23.
Signed in Florida, 1 year, $1.2MM
43. Colin Miller – Chicago Blackhawks – 1 year, $1.0MM
Miller’s stock has certainly fallen compared to his two strong seasons in Vegas as things simply haven’t gone well in Buffalo over the last three years. But the 29-year-old still has enough offensive talent–including a blistering point shot–to draw the attention of teams that are looking for a bit more production from their back end, albeit at a considerable drop in pay from the $3.875MM he has made in each of the past four years.
Signed in Dallas, 2 years, $3.7MM ($1.85MM AAV)
44. Zach Aston-Reese – Toronto Maple Leafs – 3 years, $4MM ($1.33MM AAV)
While Aston-Reese hasn’t been able to come close to matching the offensive production that made him a highly sought-after college free agent, the 27-year-old has been able to carve out a role as an effective energy fourth liner. He has ranged between 13 and 17 points over his four NHL seasons and recorded 231 hits in 2021-22 between Pittsburgh and Anaheim. That should help him to generate some interest as several teams will be looking to add grit this summer.
45. Nicolas Deslauriers – New Jersey Devils – 3 years, $7MM ($2.33MM AAV)
At a time when true enforcers are largely being phased out of the league, Deslauriers has been able to carve out a steady role for himself. On top of being one the more prolific fighters, the 31-year-old can chip in with a few goals, plenty of hits, and even kill some penalties. Minnesota indicated that they’d like to keep him but Deslauriers should be able to receive more on the open market than what they can afford to pay for their end-of-roster players.
Signed in Philadelphia, 4 years, $7.0MM ($1.75MM AAV)
46. Olli Maatta – Tampa Bay Lightning – 1 year, $1.5MM
While Maatta has been maligned in recent years for his cumbersome contract, it largely overshadowed his performance with the Kings where he still contributed on their third pairing. Still just 27, Maatta can kill penalties and log 16-18 minutes a night. That’s not a particularly exciting profile but at a much more affordable price point, he should garner interest from several teams on the open market.
Signed in Detroit, 1 year, $2.25MM
47. Colin Blackwell – Vancouver Canucks – 3 years, $3.6MM ($1.2MM AAV)
Every team needs versatile bottom-six contributors, and that’s exactly what Blackwell brings to the table–even if he doesn’t offer the size that many teams are after. The 5’9″ forward had endless energy and can chip in offensively when given the chance, scoring 22 goals and 42 points over his last 105 games. Coming off the first season of his career with a one-way contract, he’ll try to secure a few dollars more than league minimum this time around and hopefully land a full-time lineup spot.
Signed in Chicago, 2 years, $2.4MM ($1.2MM AAV)
48. Anton Stralman – Buffalo Sabres – 1 year, $1.0MM
He won’t get anywhere near the $5.5MM he has earned over the last three seasons but Stralman was still relatively effective this year for the Coyotes, logging more than 21 minutes a night and scoring 23 points in 74 games. Don’t expect him to see the ice that much for a contender but even at 36 (his birthday is August 1) he’ll be a solid contributor somewhere if he wants to continue playing.
49. Calvin de Haan – Ottawa Senators – 1 year, $1.5MM
There is nothing flashy about de Haan’s game, he can’t produce much offense, and he’s no longer going to log 20 minutes a night. What he can do, is help a penalty kill and offer a stabilizing presence next to a young player. The fact that he has plenty of experience on both sides of the ice makes him a nice target for rebuilding clubs that might be moving pieces in and out, or a contender looking to add some depth to the chart without overspending.
50. Eric Comrie – Toronto Maple Leafs – 2 years, $2.4MM ($1.2MM AAV)
With 19 solid appearances last year for the Jets, Comrie enters the market as a sneaky option for bargain bin hunters that need a second goaltender. He has just 28 games at the NHL level, and a good chunk of those have been rather poor performances. But with his game rounding into shape over the last two years, and Comrie only just turning 27 a few days ago, there’s enough upside left for someone to take a chance on a multi-year deal.
Signed in Buffalo, 2 years, $3.6MM ($1.8MM AAV)
Why would Stralman go to Buffalo and freeze when he can stay in Arizona and play for a team that wants him back?
Leafs are shopping in the discount aisle again this off season.
Yes! Hoping for Mikheyev to join the Lightning in case Palat is walking away! Fingers crossed!
If it’s 6/$6 for Trochek, the Bruins should be all over that and should be clearing out cap space immediately.
They technically don’t HAVE to clear it out yet though since they’ll have just under $20mil in LTIR for the first few months of the season.
Already need money for Bergy. With Krejci rumored to come back, Trochek becomes less likely but that’d be a legit upgrade at 2C for several years. Hall loves righties too.
This is a really good list, and I agree with much of it. But I can’t see anyone paying Frankie Vatrano $3.5 million per year, given his production came with an almost 15% shot % during his Rangers stint. Be happy for the production and move on, the dollars are better spent elsewhere.
No way in heck Philly can clear that kinda cap space.
I am getting a little bored with the Yzerman / Tampa predictions. I believe Yzerman will be bolder and shoot for Trochek or Kadri, if they accept. If not, Copp. Detroit desperately needs a Center.
Kessel and Motte? You’re killing me, Gavin! :(
No one is going to the Panthers, President Trophy winners? I know cap space will be tough but there will be other trades.
Detroit must improve second center, can’t expect success with Pius Suter.
Re Alex Edler: To paraphrase Darryl Sutter, when speaking about Alex Edler: “he knows where to turnstiled.”
So according to PHR voters, everyone is leaving the Rangers and no one is going there, after the really good season they just had? Kinda disgusting that PHR voters all seem to be Rangers haters, but that’s in line with what I usually see on this site whenever anything concerning the Rangers is mentioned. You guys could really try to be objective every once in a while, there’s really nothing wrong with that.
Have you read the article or are you just trying to annoy everyone with whining?
“ All predictions are independent and have no bearing on each other”
Or you could try to understand how the cap works.
That is a pretty low threshold for ‘disgusting’, señor bassman. Good to see a comment from someone who’s got a strong hold on perspective for a change.
You realise that this is for contemplative purposes and reading enjoyment, and that writing these guesses *doesn’t actually cause events* to happen, yeah?
Player to be named in the future 2
Nino left the Islanders on bad terms , years ago, unless he has a change of heart, I don’t see this happening
Johnny’s making more than $10mil per as a FA.
For the prices you are listing for Campbell, Kuemper or Comrie I could see a few more teams involved to pay more money to them.
While Zadorov brings physical play, he brings little else. If I’m Columbus, I’d pass. I wish the Jackets would go after Copp, but seeing he’s from Ann Arbor and went to Michigan, I don’t see how he doesn’t end up in Detroit.
Good list. The AAV’s look about right and I suspect a lot of the locations will be right.
But, the Caps no longer have goalies or cap space after they sign goalies and Geno going from “I want to retire as a Penguin” to “I want to torch my legacy and become the most hated player in team history by intentionally choosing to sign with our chief rival” would be quite the shift.
I think Gaudreau will be a Flame or a Devil and maybe an Isle, but the Flyers lack cap space and will stink for a long time.
Kadri signs with a contender.
As it appears that the Blues aren’t willing to pay Perron that much, he would be a nice two year plug in on the Preds 2nd line for around 5M a season.
Who is the last big time free agent signing to win a cup? Just off the top of my head I have to go all the way back to Marian Hossa with Chicago. Am I missing somebody? I can’t think of one on any team that has won the cup since. Colorado, Tampa, St Louis, Washington, Pittsburgh. I can’t think of one major free agent signing that was an important part of any of those teams. I don’t mean that Pat Maroon was not an important part of the Lighting’s two cups. But his one year $900K contract doesn’t count as a major signing. If Hossa is the last then it’s been 13 years since a major free agent signing helped win a cup. Shouldn’t that be telling us all something?
Um, Landeskog, a few weeks ago.
Yep. Big ticket free agents are rarely the path to victory. Mostly because so few elite players get there.
Off the top of my head, I can only add 3 more to the list…
Scott Niedermeyer, Sergei Gonchar and Zdeno Chara.
Exceptions that prove the rule.
Yup. And those are even longer ago.
I’m not talking about guys who resign with their own teams. Particularly before the become free agents.
This is a good point. Good teams don’t put themselves into a position of needing to fill a gaping hole in their lineup in the first place. Thing is, there’s alot of teams who have gaping holes where they don’t have the trade capital to acquire, so UFA’s are their only immediate fix.
Marchment has one decent season as a career depth player and he’s suddenly worth 22 and a half million? Some really Irresponsible spending going on all over the league come Wednesday.
Not the first and certainly won’t be the last time that happens
Rodrigues hasn’t established anything he’s barely in the league regardless of the fact that he caught Lightning in a bottle last season.
Good list generally, not going to quibble on specifics on my poor slow tablet. One thing people aren’t considering, though,is this: there’s only so much cap space out there. Not everyone is going to get the predicted payoff, not by a long way.