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nhl free agency 2022: the top 10 unrestricted free agents of the summer

Evgeni Malkin celebrates scoring a goal

For many teams in the NHL, 30 of them to be exact, it is officially the off season. Teams take a deep look into their roster, contracts, cap space, as well as who is available for free on the market, we list the top 10 unrestricted free agents here. 

Free agency starts on July 13th, which is still a couple weeks away, but team have a lot of planning to do, specifically due to only a slight increase in cap space, despite a high growth in revenue for the NHL this season. That being said, lets look at the top 10 UFAs.

1. johnny gaudreau, lw, calgary flames

Johnny Gaudreau had his best season of his career, and of course its in a contract year. In the regular season, he put up 115 Points in 82 games, including 40 Goals. His previous high for points was 99, back in the 2018-2019 season. In the 2021-2022 Playoffs, he kept his over a point per game play going as he put up 14 points in 12 games. Gaudreau was making 6.75M per year for the last 6 years in Calgary.

2. filip forsberg, lw, nashville predators

Filip Forsberg had also had a career season, putting up 84 points in 69 games, which included potting 42 goals, as well as 1 in 4 playoff games against the Colorado Avalanche, who just about everyone has struggled against. Forsberg is only 27 years old, making him a hot commodity in the market, especially for free. Forsberg was making 6M per year in Nashville for the last 6 years.

3. Claude giroux, fwd, florida panthers

Long time Philadelphia Flyer Claude Giroux made the move to Florida after playing his 1000th career game for the Flyers earlier this season. He filled his expectations with the Panthers, putting up 23 points in only 18 regular season games. Giroux is 34 years old, but definitely has shown he can still play and be an important top 6 guy on a playoff team. Giroux had a cap hit of 8.275M on his recent contract with the flyers that was signed back in 2014. Giroux is a vet many teams would love to have, and will certainly attract a lot of interest on the market. 

4. Vincent Trocheck, c, carolina hurricanes

Vincent Trocheck spent the last 2 full seasons in Carolina after being traded over from the Florida panthers, and his time in Carolina has be pretty good. One of the better two way forwards in the NHL, Trocheck managed to put 51 Points in 81 Games this season, while making a big impact in the defensive zone. At only 28 year old, he will gain a lot of interest on the free agent market. He led the Hurricanes in PIMs drawn, was 4th in takeaways, and had a 54.6% faceoff win percentage.

5. john klingberg, d, dallas stars

John Klingberg has had a up and down time with the Dallas Stars, but at only 29 years old he’s still got a lot of hockey left to play, and has the potential to play an important role on many teams top 4. Klingberg put up 47 Points in 74 games this season, but only had 1 point in 7 games in the 2021-2022 playoffs. He could be seen as a bit of a gamble, but if he can find the form he had earlier in his career, it could be a steal for many organizations. 

6. Nazem Kadri, C, Colorado avalanche

Nazem Kadri is another breakout star of the 2021-2022 season. Kadri put up 87 points in 71 games with the Avalanche this season, and has 14 points in 13 playoff games so far. Many may expect Kadri to be higher up on this list, but his highest point total before this season was 61 points back in the 2016-2017 season. The 31 year old is seen as a bit of a gamble, as he does have a history with suspensions, but if you look past that, he’s a great player, and has never seemed to have any locker room issues. Kadri only had a cap hit of 4.5M over the last 6 seasons with the Avalanche and with the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

7. Kris letang, d, pittsburgh penguins

Known as one of the core three of the Crosby, Malkin era, Letang won 3 Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He may be 35 years old, but he just had his best year in terms of points, putting up 68 points in 78 games this season, including 4 points in 7 games in the playoffs. Letang led the entire Penguins team in Ice time, assists, hits, PIMs, Takeaways, and was second in blocked shots. He finished 7th in the Norris voting for the 2021-2022 season. Reports are that he wants to stay in Pittsburgh, but he could end up being a very important asset of a cup chasing team if the right deal is found. 

8. evgeni malkin, c, pittsburgh penguins

Evgeni Malkin has been a huge part of the Pittsburgh Penguins core for a long time, winning 3 cups along with Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang, who is also a UFA as seen above. Malkin is also 35 years old, and has had his fair share of injuries recently, but he still put up 42 points in 41 games this season, showing hes got a couple more years of top level hockey in the tank. His career numbers are extremely impressive with 1,146 Points in only 981 games. It is rumored he wants to stay in Pittsburgh, but will the Penguins have the cap space?

9. darcy kuemper, g, colorado avalanche

Darcy Kuemper has had an up and down year with the Avalanche, has faced a couple of injuries and some bad games along the way, but he is the top goalie available as a UFA this summer, with other notable goalies being Jack Campbell and Ville Husso. Kuemper had a 2.54 GAA and a .921 SV% in 57 games played with the Avs this season, but has a 2.76 GAA and a .892 SV% in the playoffs so far, but has dealt with injuries along the way. The 6 foot 5, 32 year old was pulled in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals against the Lightning, but will likely be back in for Game 4.

10. Evander Kane, lw, edmonton oilers

With Evander Kane’s history filled with a whole lot of things, signing him is certainly a gamble. The Oilers gambled on him this season, and it  paid off. The 30 year old had 39 points in 43 games this season, as well as 17 points in 15 playoff games. While he got to play along side one of the worlds best, he showed that he can certainly still play and make a great impact on the ice, off the ice, well, thats certainly a thing teams will have to keep an eye on. 

bonus ufas

There are some other quality UFAs, such as Marc-Andre Fleury (G), Ben Chiarot (D), Andre Burakovsky (F), Valeri Nichushkin (F), Andrew Copp (F), and Ondrej Palat (F). One guy everyone thinks were crazy for not putting here is Patrice Bergeron, but that is because from the looks of it, he will either retire, or sign with the Bruins again.

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