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The NHLs top 10 Free Agents of 2022

Updated: Jan 10, 2022



On July 13, 2022 at noon ET, The free-agent market will open. This UFA class contains some of the biggest name stars in the NHL.

Here are our picks for the top 10 Free Agents available in 2022.





Honorable mentions


Ondrej Palat, Tampa Bay Lightning:


2021-22 cap hit: $5,300,000


Palat was a major part of the core of the Tampa Bay Lightning team that won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2019-20 and 2020-21.


So far this season, Palat has 28 points (13 Goals, 15 Assists) in 36 games, however at 30-years-old his production may begin to slow within the next couple of seasons.


In his career, Ondrej has put up more than 50 points 3 times, and scored more than 20 goals once.





Andre Burakovsky, Colorado Avalanche:


2021-22 cap hit: $4,900,000


Burakovsky is expected to surpass 50-points for the first time in his young career, and at 26-years-old he is just getting started.


At the moment he has 24 points (12 Goals, 12 Assists) in 28 games with this Colorado team that has no ceiling.


Last season, Andre had 0.83 points/game with 44 points in the COVID-19 shortened season.




Ryan Strome, New York Rangers:


2021-22 cap hit: $4,500,000


Strome has been a bright spot on this Rangers team that currently sits 4th in the overall standings. He has been one of the teams point leaders with 26 points (8 Goals, 18 Assists) in 31 games.


At 28-years-old, he is in the middle of his prime. Expect his points production to continue at this pace for a few more seasons.


 

10. Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators


2021-22 cap hit: $6,000,000


at 27-years-old, Forsberg is playing some of the best hockey in his career. The gifted two-way forward has put up 29 points (18 Goals, 11 Assists) in 26 games this season so far.


He has passed the 60-point plateau 3 times, while also putting up more than 30 goals twice.


He is in his tenth season with Nashville and in the final year of his 6-year contract.


On a long-term contract, expect Forsberg to see $8 Million per season.



9. Nazem Kadri, Colorado Avalanche


2021-22 cap hit: $4,500,000



In the final year of his six-year contract, Kadri is on pace for what could be his career-best season. The 31-year-old center leads the Colorado Avalanche with 42 points in 27 games. Sitting fifth among NHL scorers, Kadri could reach 100 points for the first time.


The only downside is Kadri has a short fuse that has gotten the better of him in playoff action, resulting in three suspensions in the last four postseasons. Still, he shouldn't have much difficulty landing a contract well above his current $4.5 million annual cap hit.




8. Tomas Hertl, San Jose Sharks



2021-22 cap hit: $5,625,000


Tomas Hertl has been one of the Sharks most consistent players. A skilled two-way forward, he has passed 43-points in 4 of his last 8 NHL seasons.


At 28-years-old, expect Hertl to be a productive player for many more seasons. He has a team-leading 14 goals while sitting third in points with 28. This season he could surpass 35 goals and put up 50-60 points if he stay's healthy.


He had a career-best 74 points in 2018-19, but has been dealing with some knee injuries throughout his career.





7. Marc-Andre Fleury, Chicago Blackhawks


2021-22 cap hit: $7,000,000


The 37-year-old might need a change of scenery after having a poor season with Chicago so far. Through 22 games he is 9-11-2 with a 3.01 GAA and .907 SV%. He has significantly picked up his game since the start of the season, where he had only 1 win in his first 8 starts with a .881 SV%.


However he's the defending Vezina trophy winner and recently became the third goaltender in NHL history to record 500 wins as a goaltender. Fleury is also a proven playoff performer with three Stanley Cup Championships under his belt.


Fleury most likely would like another shot at winning a Stanley Cup. And with Chicago rebuilding, a move to a contender for a slightly smaller salary would be a smart move for him.




6. Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers


2021-22 cap hit: $8,275,000


It's been a difficult season for the Philadelphia Flyers, however, captain Claude Giroux has been a bright spot in a throw away season for the Flyers.


Giroux has 29-points (11 Goals, 18 Assists) in 32 games this season, however, at 33-years-old his play could drastically fall off in the upcoming seasons.


He's been consistently the team's best offensive player since his 76-point breakout performance in 2010-11. Since then, he's fourth among all NHL scorers with 809 total points.


Expect Giroux to get around $6,000,000 annually for his next contract.






5. John Klingberg, Dallas Stars


2021-22 cap hit: $4,300,000


Expect a massive pay raise for the skillful puck-moving defenseman John Klingberg. At 29, his seven year contract with the Dallas Stars will be coming to an end.


Sportsnet's Jeff Marek reported that Klingberg wants an eight-year contract extension worth between $62M and $66M. That would be an annual cap hit of between $7.8M and $8.3M.


This season, Klingberg only has 16 points (1 Goal, 15 Assists) in 25 games. 7 of those points have come within his previous 5-games.


Last season, he had 36 points (7 Goals, 29 Assists) in 53 games played.




4. Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames


2021-22 cap hit: $6,800,000


The 28-year-old skilled playmaker has 37 points (14 Goals, 23 Assists) in 32 games this season, putting him on pace to potentially pass his career high 99-points in 82 games back in 2018-19.


Gaudreau leads the Flames in total points with 523 since his rookie campaign in 2014-15. He has exceeded 60 points five times and would've done so under normal circumstances over the previous two COVID-19 shortened seasons.


Gaudreau could seek over $8.5 million annually over a long-term deal. He is bound to draw plenty of interest if he plans to move on from the Calgary Flames.






3. Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins


2021-22 cap hit: $6,900,000


Bergeron is one of the all-time greatest two-way forwards, and at 36-years-old, he still shows no signs of slowing down.


With 25 points (11 Goals, 14 Assists) in 29 games, his consistency is still at an elite level. His face-off percentage at 64% is the best in the entire NHL.


The four-time Selke trophy winning forward will likely sign a short-term contract of around $5.5M to $6M. He is expected to take a pay-cut to stay with the Bruins after spending his entire 18-season career in Boston. It would be hard to see the Bruins captain play for any other team.




2. Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins


2021-22 cap hit: $9,500,000


Sidelined by offseason knee surgery, Evgeni Malkin recently resumed skating with his Pittsburgh Penguins teammates. How long he takes to regain his form once he returns to action remains to be seen. While it could have some effect on his contract negotiations with the Penguins, it's unlikely to affect his value in the free-agent market.


Malkin has been among the NHL's superstars since making his NHL debut in 2006-07. He has been living in the shadow of Sidney Crosby despite being one of the leagues greatest players. He was a major reason the Penguins won three Stanley Cups. His contract was for eight-years at a $9.5M annual cap hit.


Injuries have kept him sidelined from playing a full 82-game season since 2008-09, but he remains extremely productive.


Expect a short term contract, or for him to take a pay cut to remain a Pittsburgh Penguin. However, he will also be gaining plenty of interest on the open market.






1. Jack Campbell, Toronto Maple Leafs


2021-22 cap hit: $1,700,000


A first-round pick by the Dallas Stars (11th overall) in the 2010 NHL draft, Jack Campbell has become a late-blooming star with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Acquired from the Los Angeles Kings during the 2019-20 season, he's taken over this season as Toronto's full-time starter.


during last season's coronavirus-shortened campaign, Campbell took the league by storm. Overtaking Frederik Andersen as the Leafs' starter with a 17-3-2 record, a 2.15 GAA and a .921 save percentage. He also acquitted himself well in his first postseason appearance, winning three of seven games with a 1.81 GAA and .934 save percentage as the Leafs were upset in the opening round by the Montreal Canadiens.


This season, Campbell leads all goaltenders (more than 10 games played) with a .939 SV%, 1.87 GAA, and a 17-5-2 record in 25 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Those are Vezina caliber numbers, so expect him to receive a massive pay-raise when he's officially a free agent in 2022.


His $1.7M cap hit is definitely a steal for Toronto, however it is likely that with the Leaf's being against the cap, they will be unable to afford to re-sign him.



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