Top NHL Free Agents remaining: updates with latest news
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. That total is now over $993 million. Pretty stunning in the so-called Flat Cap era.
Our previous list had Brandon Saad (signed w/Blues), Nick Ritchie (signed w/Leafs), David Krejci (retired), and Ondrej Kase (signed w/Leafs).
There’s still a number of UFA’s on the market that can help teams. Let’s dive into the 10 best my accounts.
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Top Ten remaining NHL Unrestricted Free Agents
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. It’s rumored that he has a deal in place with the Islanders but Lou Lamoriello is likely working on something else and doesn’t want his cap situation known.
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. As to why it has not been announced, see the note on Cizikas.
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. Same as both Cizikas and Palmieri, Lou may announce all signings at one time.
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.
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.
Tyler Bozak (C): The 35 year-old scored 17 points in 31 games last season playing bottom six minutes. There’s no doubt he can still be a productive contributor. He has a one year deal from the Blues available to him, but is currently seeing what else is on the market.
Marcus Johansson (F): After missing all the 2019-20 campaign due to injuries, the 30 year-old forward was able to restart his career with the Wild. No longer the offensive threat he once was, he still was able to notch 14 points in 36 games. A nice bottom-six value add.
Travis Zajac (C): The Islanders acquired Zajac at the trade deadline along with Kyle Palmieri for additional center depth heading into the playoffs. At 36, he score 20 points in 46 games and added another 2 points in 14 playoff contests.
Jason Demers (D): He’s a right-handed defenseman that can still play third pair minutes. In 41 games, the 33 year-old veteran picked up just 4 helpers for the Coyotes. He’s a prime candidate for an invite to a training camp on a professional tryout (PTO).