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As always, many players will hit the open market this summer. Some unrestricted free agents will re-sign with their respective teams, some will be traded before this year’s trade deadline and some will find new homes.
So, naturally, this week’s NHL Power Rankings will focus on the best unrestricted free agent on every team.
Bergeron is going to go down as one of the greatest two-way players of all-time. He’s been a Boston Bruin for his entire career and it’s really hard to imagine him not being back. It’s surprising to see that the two sides haven’t come to an agreement yet though. The 36-year-old is still putting up impressive numbers, as he has 12 goals and 33 points in 40 games.
The Penguins could look very different next season. Not only is Malkin set to hit the open market, so are Kris Letang, Bryan Rust, Zach Aston-Reese, Evan Rodrigues and several others. Malkin has missed long stretches due to injury, but he’s picked up 11 points in 10 games this season. The 35-year-old can still be an impact player when healthy.
It appeared as though Gaudreau’s days in Calgary were coming to an end, but he’s put together an amazing bounce-back year. He’s seventh in the league in points, sixth in assists and he’s second in even-strength points. The 28-year-old will command mega dollars on his next contract. It’ll be interesting to see if he re-signs in Calgary or if he takes his talents to the United States.
I could’ve easily have gone with John Klingberg here, but Pavelski has been one of the great veterans on the ice all season. The 37-year-old has an impressive 19 goals and 48 points in 41 games. He’s improved every year since joining the Stars and it sure looks like the two sides should keep this marriage going.
Kadri has picked an excellent time to have a career-year. The 31-year-old is second in the NHL in assists, with 41, and he‘s third in scoring, with 58 points. Kadri is a valuable asset and it looks like he’s going to be getting a nice boost in pay. The Avs have already paid Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog and they’ll have to pay Nathan MacKinnon soon. Getting a deal done with Kadri will be complicated.
The Preds have paid Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen $8 million per year, so you’d have to think that Forsberg is going to make more than that. The 27-year-old has an impressive 22 goals and 36 points in 32 games in 2021-22. He’s 23rd in the NHL in points-per-game (1.13) and 19th in points-per-60 minutes (3.75). Forsberg would make a massive impact on any team he signs with.
The 28-year-old is in the top 10 in the NHL in goals this season, with 22. There’s no way the Sharks can let Hertl get away in free agency. If they can’t agree to terms on a new contract, it would be hard to lose him for nothing. San Jose is struggling, but they’re within striking distance of a playoff spot. Interesting decisions are ahead.
It’s hard to envision Giroux in another team’s jersey, but he could opt to leave for a better opportunity elsewhere. The 34-year-old is still productive, as he has 15 goals and 20 assists in 41 games this season. If Giroux hits the open market, there will be no shortage of teams interested in him.
The Ducks have Lindholm, Ryan Getzlaf and Rickard Rakell all hitting the market, but Lindholm would probably be the most difficult one to replace. The 28-year-old plays big minutes and contributes offensively. He’s a bigger body that can move the puck and skate. Teams would be beating down the door to sign him if he were to hit the market.
10 – Ryan Strome – C – New York Rangers:
Strome is more of a playmaker than a goal-scorer and he’s turned into a perfect second-line center for the Rangers. The 28-year-old would be in high demand if he hit the open market, but players rarely want to leave New York. He has nine goals and 33 points in 42 games this season.
11 – Ondrej Palat – W – Tampa Bay Lightning:
The Lightning continue to win despite the fact that they’ve lost some key players over the last few years. The two-time defending Stanley Cup Champions will have a hard time re-signing Palat. The 30-year-old has 15 goals and 16 assists in 40 games this season.
12 – Evander Kane – W – Edmonton Oilers:
The Oilers just signed Kane to a one-year deal and he managed to score in his first game with his new team on Saturday. This will be an interesting experiment for Edmonton. If he performs well, they’ll surely look to bring him back on a longer deal.
13 – Vincent Trocheck – W – Carolina Hurricanes:
The Hurricanes will need to find a way to bring back a couple of key pieces like Trocheck and Nino Niederreiter. The 28-year-old has picked up 10 goals and 19 assists at the midway point of the season. It’ll be interesting to see if the ‘Canes can get him under contract at a similar cap hit (he’s currently making $4.75 million).
14 – Jack Campbell – G – Toronto Maple Leafs:
Campbell is in his first year as a full-time starter with the Leafs and it’s gone pretty well. He’s put together an amazing year and he’s even in the conversation for the Vezina Trophy. The 30-year-old has a 20-6-3 record with a 2.26 goals-against-average and a .926 save percentage. Fitting him under the cap will be a challenge.
15 – Alex Goligoski – D – Minnesota Wild:
Goligoski has put together a really nice season at 36 years old. After posting 22 points in 56 games with Arizona last year, he’s already up to 25 points in 34 games with his new team. Goligoski is averaging just under 20 minutes per game, which is less than he has in years past. He would be a solid veteran signing on a short-term deal.
16 – Marc-Andre Fleury – G – Chicago Blackhawks:
It took some time, but Fleury finally agreed to report to Chicago after the Golden Knights traded him away last off-season. Now, with the Hawks out of the playoff race, he could be on the move again. There are a few teams looking to upgrade between the pipes and they could do worse than acquiring this future hall-of-famer.
17 – Phil Kessel – W – Arizona Coyotes:
Kessel is one of nine free-agent forwards currently on the Coyotes roster. The 34-year-old has five goals and 28 points for a bad Arizona team this year and there’s a decent chance he’ll be moved to a contender before the trade deadline.
18 – Andrew Copp – W – Winnipeg Jets:
Copp isn’t the biggest name on the roster, but he provides a valuable service to his team. Not only is he a depth scorer, he also helps provide energy for his teammates during games. The 27-year-old has 12 goals and 28 points in 41 games this season. He should get a raise from the $3.64 million he’s making now.
19 – Reilly Smith – W – Vegas Golden Knights:
Smith is having a solid campaign in Vegas. He’s put up 11 goals and 29 points in 43 games this season as a secondary scorer with the Golden Knights. Vegas probably won’t be able to re-sign him, but they can’t afford to trade him at the deadline either. He can help them go all the way this year.
20 – David Perron – W – St. Louis Blues:
Perron has been criminally underrated over the course of his career. His numbers have come down a little bit, but he’s still posted a reasonable 21 points in 31 games for the Blues in 2021-22. He’s still a valuable part of the Blues roster and he could help them in a big way in the playoffs.
21 – Mark Giordano – D – Seattle Kraken:
Giordano is the first captain in Kraken history and he’s the oldest player on their roster. Seattle should struggle for the next couple of seasons, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t use a captain like Giordano. He has a respectable 17 points in 38 games and he averages over 21 minutes of ice time per game.
22 – P.K. Subban – D – New Jersey Devils:
Subban’s best years are behind him, but the Devils defenseman has stayed healthy in 2021-22. He has two goals and 15 points in 40 games this season while averaging 19:48 of ice time. A contender could acquire him from the Devils if they were looking for a good veteran defender on the third pairing.
23 – Max Domi – W – Columbus Blue Jackets:
Domi had an amazing 2018-19 season with Montreal, as he posted 72 points in 82 contests, but his numbers have come down quite a bit since then. The 26-year-old should still be able to land a nice contract given his age and ability, but it doesn’t look like he’s going to be a top-line player.
24 – Dustin Brown – W – Los Angeles Kings:
The Kings’ former captain has become less an impact player offensively and more of a veteran depth scorer. He has 20 points in 42 games, which is more than respectable. But the Kings are still rebuilding and they could opt to use him as trade-bait at the deadline.
25 – Ben Chiarot – D – Montreal Canadiens:
Chiarot is a rugged defenseman that helped the Canadiens reach the Stanley Cup Final last season. The 30-year-old has chipped in with five goals, four assists and 32 penalty minutes in 40 games with the Habs in 2021-22. Many insiders are already predicting that the struggling Canadiens will be able to land a first-round pick and possibly more for Chiarot’s services.
26 – Nick Leddy – D – Detroit Red Wings:
The 30-year-old regularly plays over 20 minutes per game with the Red Wings. He’s chipped in a reasonable 12 points in 43 games this season. The Red Wings are ninth in the Eastern Conference standings, but they’re nine points out of the final Wild Card spot which is a lot to overcome at this point. They could land a good draft pick if they wanted to trade him before the deadline.
27 – Colin Miller – D – Buffalo Sabres:
The 29-year-old will miss about five more weeks because of an upper-body injury, but he’s put up some decent numbers on a bad team. Miller has 12 points in 32 games this season and he’s averaging just under 20 minutes of ice time per game. He’ll find a new home if he moves on from Buffalo, but it won’t be on a massive contract.
28 – Cal Clutterbuck – W – New York Islanders:
Clutterbuck has been a key member of the Islanders for a while now. He doesn’t contribute much offensively, but he brings a lot of energy to the Isles lineup when he’s on his game. With New York well out of a playoff spot, it’s possible that the veteran is moved on the deadline.
29 – Justin Schultz – D – Washington Capitals:
The 31-year-old was once a strong offensive weapon, but he’s cooled off offensively. He has two goals and seven assists in 40 games this season and he’s averaging 17:26 of ice time. His $4 million cap hit will likely be coming down on his next contract.
30 – Zach Sanford – W – Ottawa Senators:
The Sens acquired Sanford from the Blues in a trade for Logan Brown last September. The 27-year-old has been a decent depth acquisition, as he’s found the back of the net seven times in 38 games. Given his size (6-foot-4, 207 pounds), he should be able to land a contract with another NHL team if the Sens don’t want him back.
31 – Frank Vatrano – W – Florida Panthers:
Vatrano has been a nice depth piece of a really good Panthers team this year. He played around 12 minutes per game and he’s chipped in with eight goals and six assists in 39 games. He’s served as a healthy scratch too, so it’s entirely possible he winds up somewhere else.
32 – Jaroslav Halak – G – Vancouver Canucks:
Halak hasn’t played much this season, but he’s a quality backup goalie that will help give Thatcher Demko some rest. He has a 1-4-2 record with a 2.59 goals-against-average and a .915 save percentage this season. It’ll be interesting to see if Halak and the Canucks can work out an extension before he hits the market.
Source: Yahoo Sports