NHL Rumors: Top pending free agents likely to hit the open market in July

nhl rumors
Oct 25, 2021; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers center Ryan Strome (16) battles Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau (13) and Calgary Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin (55) for the puck during the second period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

The list of potential unrestricted free agents that could be available when the market opens on July 13, 2022 is tantalizing.

One pending UFA that you’d expect to be listed is Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron. However, just like Alex Ovechkin last season, he will never see free agency.

Let’s dive in to see who should be there this summer.

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NHL Free Agents likely to be available

Here are the top 10 UFA’s I believe will hit the market on July 13. Many of them are also likely to be moved by the NHL Trade Deadline this season.

John Klingberg (D): Klingberg, 29, scored 36 points in 53 games last year for Dallas, and is headed towards UFA status. According to reports, the two sides have been talking but appear to be far apart on terms. He has 3 assists in 9 games this season.

Phil Kessel (F): Kessel, 34, can still produce and has asked to be traded out of Arizona. Last season, he scored 20 goals and 43 points in 56 games for the Yotes. He currently has 6 points in 15 games. For his career he has 910 points in 1137 contests.

Ryan Strome (F): Since joining the Rangers, Strome’s game has steadily gotten better. Last season, he notched 49 points in 56 games. The 28 year-old is still in his prime and has 8 points in 11 games this year. Cap issues will make it difficult for NY to re-sign him.

Vincent Trocheck (F): The 28 year-old is having another strong campaign. He has 11 points in 13 games but is likely to hit the market come July. That’s due to several key RFA’s the Canes need to keep, including Jesperi Kotkaniemi.

Mark Giordano (D): Giordano, 38, has scored 3 goals and 7 points in 15 games for the struggling Kraken playing an average of 21:12 per game. He’s likely to be traded as a rental and then become a UFA in July.

nhl free agents
Oct 14, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Seattle Kraken Seattle Kraken defenseman Mark Giordano (5) celebrates with teammates after the first win in franchise history following a win against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Nazem Kadri (F): The 31 year-old can still play, so long as he isn’t suspended. He has 14 points in 12 games this season for the Avs, but they will likely let him walk in the summer.

David Perron (F): Perron, 33, has 6 goals and 6 assists for 12 points in 14 games this season. He has one year left on a $4M AAV for the remainder of the season before becoming a UFA.

Joe Pavelski (F): The 37 year-old veteran is still productive for the Dallas Stars. On the year he’s picked up 8 points in 13 games and is a locker room leader.

Hampus Lindholm (D): At 27 years-old, Lindholm would probably be a nice signing for some teams. He’s underperformed but maybe a change of scenery would help. He has 6 points in 16 games for the Ducks this season.

Marc-Andre Fleury (G): The reigning Vezina winner is probably wishing he choose retirement before agreeing to play for the Blackhawks. That may be the case after this season for the 37 year-old netminder. But if Vegas or Pittsburgh are interested in a 1 year deal, I’d think he’d stick around.

Possible NHL Free Agents

nhl free agents
Evgeni Malkin with Kris Letang trailing (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The jury is still out on these players’ availability, but if any of them were to hit the market they’d be at the top of the list.

Johnny Gaudreau (F): Gaudreau, 28, earns $6.75 million against the cap and is in the final year of his contract. He scored 19 goals and 49 points in 56 contests for the Flames last season. Both sides are said to be talking, but with 15 points in 15 games, his demands are likely climbing.

Evgeni Malkin (F): The 35 year-old has yet to play this season. Will Malkin eventually take his career 1104 points to another city? “Those are discussions that are certainly ongoing right now within our staff,” GM Ron Hextall said in the offseason. “We see a future with this core. These guys have been here a long time.” We will see if things change.

Kris Letang (D): Letang, 34, is entering the final season of his contract that comes with an AAV of $7.25 million. Last season he registered 45 points in 55 games. So what is the future of this All-Star defenseman with 582 career points? It appears with 9 points in 10 games, the Penguins may want to extend him.

Claude Giroux (F): Giroux, 33, is coming off a season where he scored 43 points in 54 games. This is the final year of a contract that comes with a $8.275M cap hit. He has 12 points in 13 games this season and I find it hard to see him anywhere else.

Tomas Hertl (F): Hertl will be 28 years-old when his current deal with a $5.625M cap hit expires. Last season, he recorded 43 points in 50 games. With 10 points in 14 games, the Sharks have said they’d like to keep him but we’ll see come the trade deadline where they are.

Filip Forsberg (F): Forsberg, 27, is in the final year of a six-year contract with a$6M AAV against the cap. He scored 32 points in 39 games last season. This season, he has 7 points in 9 games and is currently week-to-week with an upper-body injury. The Preds already have big contracts on the books and Forsberg could be a casualty.

-Salary cap information comes from CapFriendly
-Stat information from Hockey-Reference