Day 1 of NHL Free Agency saw well over 100 signings across the league. Per Cap Friendly, there were 163 signings that totaled a walloping $785,100,000 in contract money. Pretty stunning in the so-called Flat Cap era.
Yet there still remains a number of UFA’s on the market that can be snatched up with a phone call. Let’s dive into the 10 best my accounts.
Top Ten NHL Unrestricted Free Agents
Brandon Saad (F): The 28 year-old had a nice season with the Avalanche with 15 goals and 24 points in 44 contests. He’s coming off a $5 million AAV deal and will certainly will be a desirable add, but I’m not sure the Avs are going to pay him top dollar. He seems destined for a new team.
Casey Cizikas (F): The Islanders “Identity Line” center should be the top free agent the Rangers should target. He wins draws, and scores clutch goals in the postseason. Cizikas isn’t physically imposing at 5-11 and 195 lbs but he plays so much bigger than his size. The last bit of news on him was the Islanders are still trying to keep Cizikas on their roster.
Kyle Palmieri (F): The 30 year-old Long Island native struggled during the regular season after his acquisition. In 17 games he collected just four points with some doubting why the Islanders went hard to obtain him. Then the playoffs rolled around and he came alive with 7 goals and 2 assists in 19 games. There was several reports that the Islanders and Palmieri reached a deal but noting official yet.
Nick Ritchie (F): This past season was a good one for the now 25 year-old UFA as he notched 26 points in 56 games for Boston. He is considered a quality 3rd line guy that should be snatched up pretty quickly. Ritchie has a number of suitors but where he signs will be based on what he wants. Is he looking for top term and money, or a chance at a Cup? The Rangers who are adding toughness at every turn are interested.
David Krejci (C): This Boston Bruins center is 35. He can still play as he has 44 points in 51 games this season. Krejci will be coming off a deal that pays him $7.25 million and will get nothing close to that in the flat cap era. Teams looking for a veteran center to play second or third line minutes will do well here but it sounds like the B’s are trying to keep him.
Zach Parise (F): He’s a 16-year NHL veteran, tallied 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists) in 45 games in 2021-22. He has 810 points (393 goals, 417 assists) in 1,060 career games with the New Jersey Devils (2005-12) and Wild. All signs point to a deal with the Islanders for the 36 year-old.
Tomas Tatar (F): The 30 year-old winger certainly opened some eyes with his performance for the Canadiens this past season. That didn’t carry over in the playoffs and this is a “what have you done for me lately” sport. He still scored 30 points in 50 games in 2020-21 and that will get him a new deal.
Sami Vatanen (D): I am always shocked that a solid right-handed defender like Vatanen continues to be available. He certainly doesn’t put up the offensive numbers as he used to, but he can still help a defense out. He’s only 30 years-old so I expect him to not stay unsigned for much longer. Maybe Minnesota will come calling.
James Neal (F): The 33 year-old had just five goals and five assists (10 points) in 29 games during his season with the Oilers. Overall, he has 294 goals and 261 assists (555 points) in 13 seasons with the Dallas Stars, Pittsburgh, Nashville Predators, Vegas Golden Knights, Calgary Flames and Edmonton. Someone is going to give him a 1 year deal.
Ondrej Kase (F): Many were shocked when the Bruins did not qualify the 25 year-old. Much like Ritchie there will be interest simply because he’s an RFA at a young age. He has 96 points in 198 career games.