Teams have different ways to get into the NHL free agent pool. There are big spikes for star players. Other teams methodically intervene, making sure their feet (and their finances) stay on the ground. Some people just put their fingers down.
The Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche, who currently play in the Stanley Cup Finals, were both active in the pool last summer. The Lightning signed veteran forwards Corey Perry and Pierre-Édouard Bellemare, the latter of whom came from the Avalanche. Pat Maroon, an integral part of Tampa Bay’s back-to-back Cup victories, was a free agent in 2019.
Last offseason, the Colorados added veteran forward Darren Helm and defenseman Jack Johnson. In 2019, the Avalanche signed forward Valery Nichushkin at the peak of his NHL career. This season he scored 25 goals for them.
The free agent pool for 2022 is extensive, with one franchise player, Johnny Gaudreau; elite offensive talents Filip Forsberg and Claude Giroud; and some big names, including Evgeni Malkin, Patrice Bergeron and Marc-André Fleury, whose contracts have expired.
Here’s a look at a field of unrestricted free agents organized by tier. We have decided not to include restricted free agents as offer sheets remain rare in the NHL. Unless, of course, the Carolina Hurricanes are angry.
What players do you hope to sign in the offseason?