NHL Power Rankings: Top potential free agents for 2022 offseason

NHL Power Rankings
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In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings we take a look ahead to the potential 2022 unrestricted free agent class.

Not all of these players will make it to unrestricted free agency as some of them will eventually re-sign with their current team, but quite a few will end up testing the market and ultimately cashing in.

If your team is in the market for a defenseman or starting goaltender you might find the pickings to be slim, but there are quite a few high level forwards that could potentially be available.

You might notice one name missing from the list: Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron. We made the decision to leave him out of the rankings because while his contract is technically expiring, he has made it clear that there are only two realistic options for him: Re-signing with the Boston Bruins or retirement. That does not really make him a fit here with the rest of the players on the rankings.

Which players do make the cut and where do they rank?

To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!

1. Johnny Gaudreau. Gaudreau picked a heck of a team to have a career year and be the second-leading scorer in the NHL. Gaudreau is an incredible talent, one of the most productive players in the league, and is still at an age where he should have a lot of productive hockey ahead of him. Whether it is Calgary or somewhere else, he is going to cash in this offseason.

2. Kris LetangLetang is not only the best free agent defensemen that could be available on the open market, he is still one of the best defensemen in the league. He might be getting into his mid-30s, but he is in fantastic shape and can still play 25 minutes a game and excel in all phases.

3. Nazem Kadri. The pro: He had an incredible season and is a really good two-way player at a premium position. The concern: He will be 32 when his next contract begins and he has never really produced at this level prior to this season. Can he duplicate that on a different team, and for how many years?

4. Filip Forsberg. Coming off the first 40-goal season of his career and a bonafide first-line winger. Nashville should be able to keep him with its salary cap situation. The question is whether there is a mutual feeling on what he is worth.

5. Evgeni MalkinIf he is healthy he is still an impact player, especially on the power play. Maybe not as dominant as he was at his peak, but you would take him on your team if given the opportunity. It seems weird imagining him in a uniform other than the Penguins.

6. Claude GirouxPretty similar to Malkin in the sense that he is not quite the player he was at his peak, but he will definitely make somebody a better hockey team. Would Philadelphia bring him back? Or does he want to take another serious run at a Stanley Cup?

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info]

7. Valeri Nichushkin. An outstanding defensive forward and possession driver that has also rediscovered his offensive game. The kind of player that you look at now and think, “I bet our team could get him for a good price,” only to realize every other team in the NHL thinks the same way and then he signs a five-year, $32 million contract on the open market.

8. David Perron. Perron is a steady producer with a track record of being a top-line player on winning teams. Also an overlooked mean streak that some teams will probably love. It probably does not matter where he actually signs because he always finds his way back to St. Louis anyway.

9. Vincent Trocheck. Trocheck is pretty much the ideal second-line center. Can do everything well, good production, and just a rock solid player that would fit on any contender.

10. John Klingberg. Klingberg seems to be the type of player whose reputation will depend on who you ask and when you are asking it. His defense gets a lot of criticism, but he can provide some offense from the blue line and is a better all-around player than his critics might have you believe. But is he the player you want to build your defense around?

11. Ondrej Palat. Palat might sometimes get overlooked on that Tampa Bay roster, but he has been one of the top players for one of the league’s top teams for a decade. Great second or third line forward for a contender. Not sure Tampa Bay will be able to re-sign him with that salary cap situation.

12. Andrew Copp. Outstanding defensive forward whose offensive game reached another level this season. Also had a very strong playoff showing that will boost his value for sure.

13. Evander Kane. Kane is a good player and has been very productive in Edmonton, but when you sign him you are not just signing the player. You are signing everything that comes with the player off the ice, and his off-ice issues are well documented and quite significant (read about them here, here, here, and here). There is a reason Edmonton was able to sign him for so cheap mid-season. But like with Edmonton, it only takes one team being willing to do it.

14.Darcy Kuemper. Finally, a goalie on the list. Kuemper had a great regular season and has a very solid resume over his career. But teams might look at what happened to Phillip Grubauer when he left Colorado and wonder what happens when a 3X-year-old Kuemper is playing behind a worse team.

15. Jack Campbell. Campbell can be very hit and miss. At times over the past two years he has looked like he put everything together, and at other times he has looked just ordinary. How much faith do you have that you are consistently getting the good version?

[Related: Tkachuk, Gaudreau headline offseason questions for Calgary Flames]

16. Andre Burakovsky. Really productive player and one of the younger players on the list, so his play will probably not drop off too much right away.

17. Nino Niederreiter. Not a superstar, but he is going to score you 20-25 goals and be a strong possession driver. That is a valuable top-six winger.

18. Ryan Strome. He ended up being a really good addition for the Rangers the past few years and a solid No. 2 center.

19. Marc-Andre Fleury. At this point Fleury is a short-term solution in goal. He was good this season given the circumstances, but far from the Vezina-level performance he had in 2020-21. And that Vezina season was probably an outlier from recent years.

20. Rickard Rakell. Really nice bounce back season for him and he looked great in Pittsburgh after the trade. He can still be a 20-25 goal scorer with some creativity to his game.

21. Max Domi. Creative playmaker with some defensive shortcomings. Good complementary player but probably not much more than that.

22. Reilly Smith. Very similar player to Niederreiter in terms of what to expect production wise, but maybe not quite the same level of possession driving ability.

23. Brett Kulak. The former Montreal defenseman teams should have been trying to acquire when the Ben Chiarot bidding war happened. Nothing flashy about his play, but he is a very good mid-pairing defender.

24. Mason Marchment. A late bloomer, Marchment had a really nice year for the Panthers. Can he repeat it? How much is that one year at age 26 worth on the open market?

25. P.K. Subban. Still a big name, still extremely talented with the occasional “wow” moment, but not quite the consistent impact player and superstar he was in his prime.

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