NHL Rumors: Which top free agents are likely to re-sign with current team

nhl rumors free agents
Mar 15, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry (35) makes a save as Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron (37) is defended by Pens center Evgeni Malkin (71) during the third period at PPG Paints Arena. Pittsburgh won 4-1 Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

As four teams remain to battle for the Stanley Cup, 28 others are focusing on the NHL Draft and Free Agency which opens on July 13.

The Daily Goal Horn has all the top unrestricted free agents tracked here, but for this article we’ll take a look at three players that should be re-signing with their current teams.

NHL Rumors: Three UFA players bound to re-sign

1. Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins (36 y/o, center, $6.875M AAV)

The Bruins captain is coming off an 8 year-deal with a cap hit of $6.75 million. He can still play and produce with 65 points in 73 games.

There’s a decent chance that Bergeron may opt to retire, but my feeling is that won’t be so easy. As the summer progresse he’ll feel the itch to return. Based on his comments, it will only be to play for Boston.

“I’m going to need time to think about a lot of things and come up with the best decision for myself and my family,” he said on breakup day. “I’ve been here my whole career and it’s a special place for me.”

2. Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins (35 y/o, center $9.5M AAV)

NHL Rumors Evgeni Malkin
Jan 4, 2020; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (71) during a first period face-off against Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

According to CapFriendly, the Penguins have around $23.9 million in cap space. Two big names that may hit the market are Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang.

When it comes to which of them I likely see coming back, it’s Malkin. He finished the year with 42 points in 41 games and he’s made it clear that staying in Pittsburgh is his preference.

“Pittsburgh, it’s my second hometown,” Malkin said. “I’m here 16 years, it’s amazing. It’s hard to understand what’s going on right now because we just lost a couple days ago. It’s still painful. But I hope we find a way to all be happy. If you play like 20 years for one club, it’s amazing. It’s a business, but I’m ready both ways. If I stay, I will be so much happier.”

3. Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames (28 y/o, winger, $6.75M)

Gaudreau just completed his 9th season in the NHL, all with the Flames. In 2021-2022, he had a career year posting 115 points (40 G – 75A) in 82 games. He’s been open about signing an extension to stay in Calgary.

The commitment from the Flames is there as well. GM Brad Treliving made a big public statement that will be embarrassing if he can’t get it done this summer.

“We’re going to move heaven and earth and do everything we possibly can to get Johnny back here,” he said. “You’ve seen it throughout the season. He’s a top player.”

Calgary’s top scorer is going to get max term and money. Expect an 8 year deal with an AAV at around $9M. Of course, the Flames must also sign RFA Matthew Tkachuck to a big deal so they’ll need to move out some salary.

Keep an eye on Sean Monahan to be traded this summer. The 27 year-old has one-year remaining at $6.375M and is recovering from hip surgery. Another possible candidate to clear space is Tyler Toffoli, who has two years left at $4.25M and can be traded anywhere.