The day is nearly here. The free agency marker in the NHL is set to begin Wednesday at noon in what is always a crazy, frenzy-filled day.
Some of the big names that were set to be free agents this summer are already off the board. Filip Forsberg re-signed with the Predators on an eight-year deal; Ville Husso was traded to the Red Wings and inked a three-year deal; and Bryan Rust and Kris Letang both received new deals with the Penguins.
There are still a few big names out there that are most certainly going to be testing the free agency waters. Johnny Gaudreau seems likely to leave the Flames, Nazem Kadri is definitely signing elsewhere as the Avs can’t afford to re-sign him and Claude Giroux is going to be looking for a new home.
In addition to the unrestricted free agents, there are a few restricted free agents who have been given qualifying offers, but their future remains in question. There has been some trade speculation among some like Matthew Tkachuk, Pierre-Luc Dubois, and Jesse Puljujarvi.
Before the deals are made, here’s a look at the remaining top-50 free agents, both unrestricted and restricted.
1. Johnny Gaudreau, LW, Flames, UFA
Gaudreau picked the perfect year to break out for a career season. He was one of just eight players to hit 100 points this season. The Flames forward has found his offensive touch and is in for a big payday. There was an offer from Calgary, but it feels as though Gaudreau is heading elsewhere.
2. Claude Giroux, C/W, Panthers, UFA
The longtime captain of the Flyers was traded at the deadlineto the Panthers in order to try and win a Cup. After securing 42 points in 57 games in Philadelphia, he flourished down in Florida with 23 points in 18 regular season games.
3. Nazem Kadri, C, Avalanche, UFA
One of the breakout stars of the season has been Kadri. In his third season in Colorado, he shattered his previous career-high of 61 points by registering 87 in 71 games this season. He also was able to wipe away the “playoff liability” narrative he carried with him for years, helping the Avs win the Cup. The 31-year-old center certainly benefited from playing alongside star power with the Avalanche, so a major question is if he’ll be able to recreate this season’s success elsewhere.
4. Matthew Tkachuk, RW, Flames, RFA
Another Flames forward who had a career season in a contract year, Tkachuk was sensational this season for Calgary with 104 points in 82 games. He hit 40 goals for the first time in his young career, helping the Flames to be one of the best teams in the West. However, there have been some rumblings about a potential trade, so we’ll see where Tkachuk ends up.
5. Jason Robertson, LW, Stars, RFA
One of the NHL’s brightest young stars that doesn’t get enough shine is Robertson, who just finished a season where he had 79 points in 74 games. Since coming into the league, he has been just under a point-per-game player with 125 in 128. The Stars have one of their centerpieces for the future, now they need to lock him up either long-term or with a bridge deal.
6. Patrice Bergeron, C, Bruins, UFA
Bergeron continues to defy Father Time, putting one of the best defensive seasons we’ve seen out of a forward and winning a record sixth Selke. He reportedly has verbally agreed to a one-year extension with the Bruins, but nothing has been announced yet.
7. Vincent Trocheck, C, Hurricanes, UFA
Other than Bergeron, you won’t find a stronger two-way center in this free agency class than Trocheck. He locked down a role down the middle on a strong Hurricanes team and can be a great option for any team in need of a second-line center.
8. John Klingberg, D, Stars, UFA
The puck-moving defenseman hasn’t quite produced the same since he broke into the league in 2014, but he’s one of the best defensemen available this summer. The fact that Klingberg’s a right-handed defenseman also increases his market value, as well.
9.Ondrej Palat, LW, Lightning, UFA
He’s not the flashiest of players, but the Lightning don’t have the success they have had in the last few years without Palat. The winger has been a consistent 40-point player with solid defensive play. The playoffs are where he shines most, with 94 points in 138 postseason contests after adding 21 in 23 games this past postseason.
10. Evgeni Malkin, C, Penguins, UFA
The dynamic duo down the middle of Crosby-Malkin could be over in Pittsburgh. The Russian center is just not what he used to be, looking slow at times and making careless mistakes. But he still averaged over a point per game this season, albeit missing half the season. He’s been pretty outspoken about how upset he is that he hasn’t been re-signed yet, but a deal could be done before Wednesday.
11. Jesper Bratt, LW, Devils, RFA
Bratt came out of nowhere this season, recording 73 points in 76 games to lead the Devils. However, now there are some rumors that Bratt could be on the move. You would think the Devils would want to keep a young player like that to build around, but we’ll see what direction they go in.
12. Patrik Laine, RW, Blue Jackets, RFA
The scoring winger had quite the successful 2021-22 season with 56 points in as many games. He missed significant time with an injury, but Laine is the scorer that the Blue Jackets need. He received a qualifying offer from the club, and the big wing should be extending his stay in Columbus.
13. Valeri Nichushkin, RW, Avalanche, UFA
Outside of Kadri, no one increased their value this summer during the playoffs as much as Nichushkin. The big, hefty wing is excellent in his own zone and came through in the clutch multiple times during the Avs’ playoff run. I do think that his production is a product of playing with Colorado’s stars, but he’s in for a pay day.
14. Pierre-Luc Dubois, C, Jets, RFA
The Jets have a lot of questions that need answers to this offseason and Dubois is one of them. Acquired in the trade that sent Laine to the Blue Jackets, Dubois had 60 points in his first full season in Winnipeg. The Jets have a ton of RFAs and there have been rumors of a potential trade out of Winnipeg for Dubois.
15. Andre Burakovsky, LW, Avalanche, UFA
After an excellent regular season where he set new career-highs across the board with 22 goals, 39 assists and 61 points, Burakovsky is one of the Avs’ many free agents. The young speedy forward has two Cup wins under his belt at just 27 years old and has shown he can play in a top-six role when surrounded by the right pieces.
16. Jake Oettinger, G, Stars, RFA
Oettinger started last season in the AHL but quickly worked his way into the starting role in Dallas. After his exceptional playoff series against the Flames, he is a name to certainly watch in the future in terms of elite goaltenders. The Stars should not hesitate to get a deal to keep him in Texas.
17. Evander Kane, LW, Oilers, UFA
The player drawing the most controversy this season, Kane was wrapped up in financial issues and allegations of domestic assault. Any team looking to stray away from bad PR might want to avoid Kane, but there’s no denying the results on the ice. After signing with the Oilers in January, Kane had 22 goals in 43 games.
18. Noah Dobson, D, Islanders, RFA
Dobson solidified himself as the Islanders top defenseman going forward. The 22-year-old had 51 points in 80 games, showcasing his offensive puck-moving ability. The only question with Dobson is will the Islanders sign him to a long-term extension or give him a bridge deal to allow him to prove this year wasn’t a fluke.
19. Max Domi, LW, Hurricanes, UFA
Domi has bounced around a lot in his relatively young career. He’s just 27, yet is on his fourth different team. He’s struggled to fit into the system for multiple organizations, but perhaps someone can take a flyer on him this summer. The past results are there that prove what Domi is capable of when he’s in the right situation.
20. David Perron, LW, Blues, UFA
Perron just does not stop. The 33-year-old winger continues to prove he still has a lot left in the tank after showing flashes over the years that he might be done. Since he always ends up back on the Blues (three separate stints with the team), it feels like it makes the most sense for St. Louis to just re-sign him.
21. Darcy Kuemper, G, Avalanche, UFA
The Avs needed a No. 1 goalie this past season when Philipp Grubauer left in free agency and Kuemper delivered. The 32-year-old was reliable in net for Colorado, finishing in the top five in save percentage and wins. The age is a bit of concern, but he proved this year he’s cut out to be a star starter.
22. Rickard Rakell, RW, Penguins, UFA
A once-promising up-and-coming winger, Rakell has disappointed the past few seasons while he was in Anaheim. After he was acquired by the Penguins at the deadline, he had 13 points in 19 games played, but he missed most of the first round after he was hurt in Game 1. Injuries need to be considered when looking at the 29-year-old winger.
23. Reilly Smith, RW, Golden Knights , UFA
Smith was one of a multitude of Vegas players to find themselves on the long-term injured reserve this season. The 31-year-old is showing signs of slowing down, but still could be a reliable middle-six option on the wing. He reportedly has verbally agreed to a six-year extension with the Golden Knights, but nothing was made official.
24. Jack Campbell, G, Maple Leafs, UFA
Campbell is coming off an up-and-down season with the Leafs, his first as their starter. When he was on, he was one of the best goalies in hockey. When he was off, it was rough. Maple Leafs fans may want Campbell back, but can Toronto afford to keep him around?
25. Andrew Mangiapane, LW, Flames, RFA
After an extremely hot start to the season, Mangiapane cooled way down by New Year’s. A third of points came in the first two months of the season, as he had 17 in October and November, but he ended the season with 51. You can’t knock scoring 35 goals, but the inconsistency is a bit concerning for Mangiapane.
26. Andrew Copp, C, Rangers, UFA
Outside of maybe Giroux, no other deadline acquisition made as much of an impact as Copp did with the Rangers. He was a consistent 25-35 point scorer with the Jets but exploded for 18 in 16 games with New York. His value is going to be at an all-time high heading into the offseason.
27. Ryan Strome, C, Rangers, UFA
Strome finally found a home in New York these past few seasons, playing regularly as their second-line center. He hit 20 goals for the first time in his career. On a strong contender, I see Strome playing in the middle on a third line, but he certainly could play second on most teams.
28. Josh Manson, D, Avalanche, UFA
Manson may not be the top-pair defenseman some thought he might be when he was in Anaheim, but he was a reliable second/third-pair option when the Avs traded for him. Being righthanded likely brings him more appeal in free agency, but Manson is no more than a No. 3 defenseman.
29. Josh Norris, C, Senators, RFA
Norris may be the one piece in Ottawa that doesn’t get discussed enough. He’s coming off 55 points in 66 games this season after breaking out in 2020-21. He’s going to be a part of their young core going forward, I don’t see Norris going anywhere.
30. Ilya Mikheyev, RW, Maple Leafs, UFA
If there’s one player I want to see sign elsewhere, it’s Mikheyev. His silky-smooth skating ability paired with his hands makes him an enticing option. It never felt like he carved out a role in Toronto, but the tools are there for Mikheyev to thrive in the right situation.
31. Dylan Strome, C, Blackhawks, UFA
Strome was set to be an RFA this summer, but the Blackhawks elected to not give him a qualifying offer, making him a UFA. He hasn’t popped off like people expected he would when he was taken No. 3 overall in 2015, but Strome is still a young, promising center who can likely flourish as a No. 2 or No. 3 center.
32. Ben Chiarot, D, Panthers, UFA
The Panthers paid a hefty price at the deadline to bring in Chiarot, who was just fine on their blue line. He’s a big, defensive blue liner with flashes of offensive upside. His 26 points combined between Montreal and Florida are the most he’s recorded in a season.
33. Victor Olofsson, RW, Sabres, RFA
Olofsson has been a steady producer offensively for the Sabres since making his mark during the 2019-20 season. He’s a great option on the power play with a wicked shot. He received a qualifying offer from Buffalo and likely will be staying around in upper New York.
34. Phil Kessel, RW, Coyotes, UFA
Kessel did not get the chance to go for a Cup this season, with the Coyotes electing to hold onto him at the deadline. There was some speculation his iron man streak had something to do with it, as his982 consecutive games played streak is the second-longest in NHL history and the longest active streak. That certainly will be a factor for him, as Kessel only needs eight games to pass Keith Yandle’s record and 18 to hit 1,000.
35. Martin Necas, C, Hurricanes, RFA
It still feels like we’re waiting for Necas to seriously break out in the NHL. He had 40 points this season for Carolina playing on the right wing on multiple lines, and has drawn some trade interest from other teams, although the Hurricanes have said they want to keep him. He has a ton of skill and the signs are there and he can be an offensive weapon in this league.
36. Jesse Puljujarvi, RW, Oilers, RFA
Among the RFAs, perhaps none has garnered as much trade speculation as Puljujarvi. He really hasn’t lived up to expectations after he was drafted at No. 4, but he’s shown flashes of promise with a big frame and nose for the net. He was given a qualifying offer from the Oilers, which still doesn’t rule out a trade, but there’s a lot to like about the 24-year-old winger.
37. Evan Rodrigues, C, Penguins, UFA
With the early injuries to Crosby and Malkin, the Penguins needed others to step up in their absence. Rodrigues was one of those players, potting 19 goals and recording 43 points. He proved to be a versatile option, playing center in the bottom-six or playing on a ring on the top two lines.
38. Kailer Yamamoto, RW, Oilers, RFA
Yamamoto was a key part of the success of the Oilers this season, recording 41 points in 81 games. He played a ton alongside either Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl, so you ideally would like to see better numbers, but he’s a strong skater who is good with the puck on his stick. He also received a qualifying offer from Edmonton.
39. Artturi Lehkonen, LW, Avalanche, RFA
One of the heroes for the Avalanche during their Cup run, Lehkonen proved for the second postseason in a row he’s a player built for playoff hockey. He’s a forechecking machine and scored clutch goals throughout the postseason. Given the package Colorado gave up for him at the deadline, it’s likely that he stays in Denver, but they have a ton of free agents to deal with.
40. Dominik Kubalik, LW, Blackhawks, UFA
Like Dylan Strome, Kubalik was going to be an RFA this summer, but the Blackhawks elected to not give him a qualifying offer, making him a UFA. He hasn’t lived up to the hype after his rookie season, playing in a more sheltered role on a bad Blackhawks team this past season. But some team can offer him a cheap, prove-it type of deal that could be beneficial for both sides.
41. Nino Niederreiter, RW, Hurricanes, UFA
Niederreiter has been reliable in his depth role with the Hurricanes. He’s hit 20 goals the past two seasons and can play a physical game. He’s still just 29 and could play a solid role as a third-liner or even fourth if needed.
42. Paul Stastny, C, Jets, UFA
The veteran center quietly put up his best year statistically since 2015-16 with 21 goals and 45 points in 71 games. At 36, it’s likely that Stastny gets a short-term deal, but his re-emergence this season with the Jets proved he still has something left in the tank.
43. Frank Vatrano, LW, Rangers, UFA
Vatrano bounced around the lineup with the Panthers this season, struggling to find a fit before he was traded at the deadline to the Rangers. Playing on their top line, he saw an increase in production. Vatrano can play up and down the lineup, and his versatility should be appealing to a team in need of forward depth.
44. Nick Leddy, D, Blues, UFA
The defensemen market is fairly barren this summer, so Leddy is likely the best option available on the left side behind Chiarot. The 31-year-old is no longer the top-pair defenseman he used to be, but could be a good No. 2 or No. 3 option on the left side of the blue line.
45. Nicolas Roy, C, Golden Knights, RFA
In what was a disappointing season for Vegas, Roy was one of the few bright spots. The young center broke out for 15 goals and 39 points, seeing an increase in playing times with the Golden Knights dealing with a multitude of injuries. He’s likely suited more for a bottom-six role on a fully healthy Vegas team, if he’s brought back.
46. P.K. Subban, D, Devils, UFA
Subban’s prime is far behind him, and with that, his AAV is going to go way down from the $9 million he was still getting paid. He’s more of a No. 5-7 defenseman these days.
47. Pavel Zacha, C, Devils, RFA
Zacha was supposed to be an offensive dynamo for the Devils, but it’s been a frustrating six seasons in New Jersey. He’s failed to hit 20 goals in a season and his career-high in points is 36, which he achieved this season. He has reportedly drawn interest from other teams via trade, so we’ll soon see if Zacha’s future lies in Newark or somewhere else.
48. Colin Miller, D, Sabres, UFA
The 2021-22 season was one that was filled with injuries for Miller. He skated in just 38 games with the Sabres, thanks to a January surgery for an undisclosed injury. He never found a clear role in Buffalo, but he could play top-four minutes in the right system.
49. Kasperi Kapanen, RW, Penguins, RFA
Kapanen is coming off a down year in terms of production. The winger struggled to get on the score sheet, despite getting opportunities to play again with Evgeni Malkin. He received a qualifying offer from Pittsburgh and a return to the Penguins would make sense for both sides.
50. Ryan Donato, C, Kraken, UFA
Donato had his best season to date in his first year with the Kraken, recording 31 points in 74 games. The center has bounced around in his young career and could be heading to his fifth team in seven years.
2022 NHL free agents: Tracking top players by position
Here is a look at each position and who the top free agents are that could be available to fill that role.
1. Claude Giroux, UFA
2. Nazem Kadri, UFA
3. Patrice Bergeron, UFA
4. Vincent Trocheck, UFA
5. Evgeni Malkin, UFA
6. Pierre-Luc Dubois, RFA
7. Andrew Copp, UFA
8. Ryan Strome, UFA
9.Josh Norris, RFA
10. Dylan Strome, UFA
1. Johnny Gaudreau, UFA
2. Jason Robertson, RFA
3. Ondrej Palat, UFA
4. Jesper Bratt, RFA
5. Andre Burakovsky, UFA
6. Evander Kane, UFA
7. Max Domi, UFA
8. David Perron, UFA
9. Andrew Mangiapane, RFA
10. Artturi Lehkonen, RFA
1. Matthew Tkachuk, RFA
2. Patrik Laine, RFA
3. Valeri Nichushkin, UFA
4. Rickard Rakell, UFA
5. Reilly Smith, UFA
6. Ilya Mikheyev, UFA
7. Victor Olofsson, RFA
8. Phil Kessel, UFA
9. Jesse Puljujarvi, RFA
10. Kailer Yamamoto, RFA
1. John Klingberg, UFA
2. Noah Dobson, RFA
3. Josh Manson, UFA
4. Ben Chiarot, UFA
5. Nick Leddy, UFA
6. P.K. Subban, UFA
7. Colin Miller, UFA
8. Brett Kulak, UFA
9. Calvin de Haan, UFA
10. Olli Maatta, UFA
1. Jake Oettinger, RFA
2.Darcy Kuemper, UFA
3. Jack Campbell, UFA
4. Braden Holtby, UFA
5. Kevin Lankinen, UFA