BET À DAY
Every summer, the month of July is a very hectic time in the National Hockey League.
Exceptionally this year, the opening of the free agent market has been postponed to July 13 due to the season being extended by the COVID-19 pandemic. Three days away from this fateful date, we present to you a top 10 of the best “free agents” available.
10 – Claude Giroux
< p>Let's start with a big name: Claude Giroux.
If you find it too low for your liking on our list, you are absolutely right. Rest assured, he would have ended up much higher if he really intended to look elsewhere. But barring a turnaround, everything indicates that the 34-year-old Franco-Ontarian will extend his stay in Florida.
“I would really be interested in coming back with the Panthers, he -he said last month. Since my first day here, I have had a great experience. The whole organization has done a tremendous job for my well-being and that of my family.”
General Manager Bill Zito expressed the same desire.
Another argument to consider: the Panthers paid a high price to snatch Giroux from the Philadelphia Flyers at the trade deadline, selling forward Owen Tippett, a third-round pick in the 2023 draft and a first-round selection in 2024 .
It would be very expensive for just 18 “regular” season games and barely 10 in the playoffs, the consequence of a shorter than expected run for the Panthers, swept by the Lightning from Tampa Bay from the second round.
Giroux was successful upon his arrival. He improved an already threatening attack, particularly on the numerical superiority.
Still, the plan was more ambitious…
9 – Patrice Bergeron
The presence of Patrice Bergeron in the ninth rung can be explained in the same way. Everything suggests that the future member of the Hall of Fame will remain in Boston and conclude his glorious career there.
To hear the general manager of the Bruins, Don Sweeney, it is necessary to foresee the return of the Quebecer with the club which drafted him in 2003. Same observation by listening to the comments made recently by the principal concerned.
Knowing his desire to stay with the Bruins, it would not be surprising to see Bergeron accept a pay cut, he who pocketed $6.875 million in 2021-2022.
Bergeron, who turns 37 on July 24, isn't slowing down despite his “advanced age.” The L'Ancienne-Lorette native had 65 points in 73 games last season and won the Selke Trophy for the fifth time, which is a record.
8 – Andrew Copp < /h3>
We grant you, Andrew Copp is not the sexiest player of the 2022 vintage of free agents, but many teams will reach out to him. He's the kind of player all GMs love.
Talk to Chris Drury! The big boss of the New York Rangers is rubbing his hands for having made his acquisition at the trade deadline.
Copp has been able to raise his level of play consistently. The versatile forward broke the 20-goal and 30-assist mark for the first time in his career.
He proved even more valuable in the playoffs. Used more than 20 minutes a night, he scored timely goals and contributed to special teams.
Has he convinced Rangers he's more than a rental player? If their answer is negative, there is no doubt that he will receive other offers, probably around 4 million dollars.
7 – David Perron
Comme Copp , David Perron is a greatly underestimated player. His case is especially intriguing.
The 34-year-old Quebecer continued to surprise many pundits by producing consistently with the St. Louis Blues last season. While we thought he was worn down by injuries and slowed down by the weight of the years, he garnered 57 points in 67 games. If it hadn't been for minor health problems, he might even have reached the 30-goal mark for the first time in his career, when his counter stopped at 27.
He continued on his launched in the playoffs, during which he scored nine goals in 12 games, in addition to obtaining four assists. Not bad for $4 million!
Perron returned to the Blues both times he became a free agent. Never two without three?
It seems very possible. “If we can find some common ground, I'd like to bring him back next season,” general manager Doug Armstrong said when reviewing the season. He's a hell of a player. He thwarts old age better than 95-99% of NHL players. What he's done this year is spectacular.”
His five NHL contracts, Perron signed them all with the Blues. It smells like the sixth…
6 – Ondrej Palat
Ondrej Palat is another one of those shadow players who will be free as air from this Wednesday.
The one that Jon Cooper calls “silent assassin” has boosted his value , already high, thanks to his inspired performances in the playoffs. The 31-year-old Tampa Bay Lightning forward shined brighter than ever with 11 goals and 10 assists in 23 games, a personal best.
Proof that Palat is always there when it counts, Joe Pavelski (14) and Evgeni Malkin (13) are the only active players to have scored more game-winning goals than him (12) in the playoffs.
The Czech , who has spent his entire career with the “Bolts”, would be open to exploring other avenues. He is in danger of leaving the team that drafted him in the seventh round in 2011 since the Lightning cannot afford to keep him, being stuck by the constraints of the salary cap.
Unless Julien BriseBois performs an accounting miracle, the left winger, who earned an average annual salary of 5.3 million since 2017-2018, will leave for other lands.
5 – John Klingberg
The summer of 2022 is far from being a great vintage for defenders. Among the few interesting candidates, there is in particular John Klingberg, of the Dallas Stars.
The two parties could however continue their long association, which has lasted since the 2010 draft. negotiations in this direction.
“I still want to stay here,” Klingberg said last month. We tried to reach an agreement in various ways. Whether it's for the duration or the monetary amount, we try to find something that will make us all happy.”
“He will look at what the market looks like and we will do the same to determine if it fits adequately for both parties,” said general manager Jim Nill.
Last season, the 29-year-old veteran totaled 47 points in 74 games, earning $4.25 million.
Klingberg is reportedly seeking an eight-year contract from 'a value of between $62 and $66 million.
The Stars have already spent $21 million on six defensemen for the next campaign. By granting a contract to the Swede, it would be a very expensive brigade.
4 – Evander Kane
Evander Kane's attitude is not always unanimous, but his talent is undeniable.
The controversial forward, who completed the last playoffs with 13 goals in 15 games with the Edmonton Oilers, should attract the attention of several teams.
After all, he turned out to be the he was one of the best acquisitions during the season. Acquired from the San Jose Sharks in late January, Kane immediately made his impact with the Oilers, scoring nearly one point per game (39 for 43), including 22 goals.
What is its true value? This is THE big question facing the four corners of the NHL.
One thing is certain, he deserves better than the $2.1 million he added to his bank account in 2022.
3 – Evgeni Malkin
Among other prime candidates likely to test the free agent market, forward Evgeni Malkin is one to watch up close.
The 35-year-old Russian would like to agree with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the long term to conclude his career there, like Bergeron with the Bruins.
But the recent contract initialed by the defender Quebecer Kristopher Letang ($36.6 million for six years) complicates matters considerably. General manager Ron Hextall will have to show some accounting ingenuity if he wants to make room for Malkin.
The latter will no longer be able to command such a high salary ($ 9.5 million), even if he still produces at a rate of one point per game (42 in 41 in 2021-2022). In his case, it is more his health that is of concern. Last year, he suffered a second major knee injury, so he only started the season on January 11.
Would he accept a contract similar to what he had consented to Joe Pavelski on July 1, 2019 ($21 million for three years)?
2 – Nazem Kadri
Let's not rule out Nazem Kadri's return to the Colorado Avalanche right away, but it could be complicated due to salary cap constraints. Because Kadri will command a much higher salary than last season, when he represented a real bargain at “only” $4.25 million.
Kadri's arguments are obvious. After shining in his first season in Denver with a personal-high 87 points in 71 games, he was an important cog in the conquest of the Stanley Cup. Kadri scored crucial goals during the playoff run and had 15 points in 16 games.
The problem is that the Avalanche are already paying $16.25 million to Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen for several more seasons and must offer a new contract (certainly VERY lucrative) to Nathan MacKinnon next summer. < /p>
There will therefore be little money left to retain the services of the 31-year-old center in the long term. In addition, the Avalanche are still missing a goalie with the announced departure of Darcy Kuemper, also eligible for full autonomy.
His teammate Valeri Nichushkin could also be a tempting catch.
1- Johnny Gaudreau
Johnny Gaudreau is at the top of our list. If he can't find common ground with the Calgary Flames, or if he wants to “test” the market, there won't be any shortage of offers.
The diminutive striker could very well be THE most coveted player. And for good reason! Gaudreau is coming off the best season of his career with 115 points.
Around this time last year, Flames general manager Brad Treviling began negotiations with the Gaudreau clan over a contract extension, but failed to reach an agreement.
He is probably biting his fingers today since the price is certainly higher. Gaudreau, who earned $6.75 million in 2021-22, deserves a substantial raise. Compared to other top left wingers including Artemi Panarin ($11.6m), Alex Ovechkin ($9.5m) and Kirill Kaprisov ($9m), he is 'underpaid' .
Other candidates worth mentioning:
- David Perron
- Vincent Trocheck
- Reilly Smith
- Nino Niederreiter < /li>
- Paul Stastny
- Phil Kessel
- Rickard Rakell
- Max Domi
- Ryan Strome
- Joe Thornton
- Andre Burakovsky
- Ben Chiarot
- P.K. Subban
- Nick Leddy
- Josh Manson
- Darcy Kuemper
- Jack Campbell
- Martin Jones
- Braden Holtby