2022 NHL Free Agents: Best Players Available After First Wave, Originally on NBC Sports Boston
NHL free agency began on Wednesday, and while most of the top players available have already signed new contracts, there is still plenty of talent in the market.
In fact, the second best unrestricted free agent on most rankings remains unsigned.
Nazeem Qadri is having the best season of his career. He scored 87 points (28 goals, 59 assists) in 71 games. He also played a key role in the Colorado Avalanche winning the Stanley Cup. Qadri is a legitimate top six center and plays with the kind of rigor that most general managers want.
Bergeron, Krejci . With and without preliminary Bruins lineup estimates
Qadri should seek $7-8 million per season in his next contract. This would be a reasonable demand for a player of his caliber. The issue for Qadri is not that many teams have that kind of salary cap space. Just 13 of the league’s 32 teams have more than $6.8 million in cash room, per CapFriendly. Only two of them, the Calgary Flames and Nashville Predators, made it to the playoffs last season.
The top defender still available is John Klingberg. He is a legitimate top four blueliner with a strong offensive skill set. However, Klingberg will turn 30 at Opening Night in October, so offering him a long-term deal would be too risky, especially for a team close to the salary cap.
A lot of solid middle-six forwards are also unsigned. One of them is Phil Kessel. He’s no longer the elite goal scorer, but even at 34 years old, the two-time champion is still a quality offensive player (52 points from 82 games last season) and can upgrade a team’s power play.
Here’s a list of the best unsigned free agents yet (except for Patrice Bergeron, who said in May that he doesn’t see himself playing for any team other than the Bruins if he plays next season).
Nazam Qadri, C
John Klingberg, D
Phil Kessel, RW
Nino Niedreiter, Ca
Calvin De Haan, Do
Paul Stastany, CA
Sonny Milano, LW/RW
Evan Rodrigues, Ca
Denton Henin, LW/RW
Ryan Donato, CA