With the 2022 NHL draft finally complete, the best young players in the world have found their way to the absolute best professional hockey league. With a new wave of talent spreading like wildfire, the veterans of the league should be worried for their fates.
Of those veterans, some of the best are waiting in free agency, waiting to be swooped up by a team in need. The post-draft period is almost a state of limbo, but as time passes, more and more of these players will find their way onto rosters.
The free agency pool has an incredible amount of talent, with the experience to boot. These guys can make a major impact on any winning organization, whether it’s with phenomenal play or leadership qualities. The top batch of players should be flooded with offers around the league, with the No. 1 free agent demanding serious money.
Read more about the NHL draft.
Top NHL Free Agents
5. Evgeni Malkin, F, 35
Although on the older side, Malkin is steadily productive whenever he’s on the ice. However, his problem recently has been staying on the ice. After a couple of injury-ridden seasons, being a 35-year-old unhealthy free agent is a bit of a warning sign.
However, his playoff performance was good, coming back from injury and scoring 6 points in 7 games. He averages about a point per game, giving good consistency to a team that needs him.
4. Claude Giroux, F, 34
Another consistent player with age, Giroux sits in similar territory to Malkin. However, his injury concerns are far fewer than Malkin. Although Malkin may arguably be the more skilled player (by a slim margin), Giroux is a safer lock.
3. Andrew Copp, F, 28
This one was quite difficult for me. Seeing a younger, versatile and consistent defensive forward with offensive flash was enough to put him this high on the list. He had a good year and a great playoff stretch, with 18 points in 16 games for the rangers, and he will surely demand more money.
His developing offense mixed with elite defense could prove useful on almost every roster in the league, and he can play center or wing. Whoever he suits up for will have a treat on the ice.
2. Nazem Kadri, F, 31
Not much I can say bad about this guy. Avoiding suspensions (still managing to find controversy), this guy can play. A career-high 87 points on the season and massive contribution to the team’s playoff run after his thumb surgery makes him an easy pickup for most teams.
The guy has a dog in him and has physicality added onto that. He’s still got years left, and he can score the puck like anyone on the ice. He is a major asset to most teams in the NHL, and will find good use somewhere.
1. Johnny Gaudreau, F, 28
This, quite simply, is a massive no-brainer. 4th in Hart Trophy voting, the second-leading scorer in the league, and at a prime 28 years old? How could you possibly go wrong?
He had a jaw-dropping 115 points this past season and showed his true flare in Calgary. He is going to find himself a massive contract this offseason, upgrading him to an elite level as one of the best.
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