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2022 NHL free agency: Where are the top free agents expected to land?

With the NHL free agency market on the verge of opening, we take a look at the biggest free agents of this offseason and where they might be headed.

With the NHL free agent market on the verge of opening, we take a look at the biggest free agents of this offseason and where they might be headed.
Christian PetersenAFP

The tectonics of the hockey world are on the verge of shifting and the will be earth rattling news coming out of the NHL over the next few weeks. The league’s free agent market opens up on Wednesday, 13 July at noon E.T.

Where are the market’s biggest stars heading

The Stanley Cup champs, the Colorado Avalanche, are in jeopardy of losing nearly an entire line in free agency, just weeks after conquering in the Cup for the first time in 21 years and Johnny Gaudreau looks like he has a foot and a half outside of Calgary.

There is a mix of up new comers and established legends that are entering the market as hockey fans cross their fingers with hopes of landing the biggest free agent targets.

So here is a list of the five top targets in the free agent market and where we think they might land.

Johnny Gaudreau

The Senators point man was tied for second in points with 115 on 40 goals and 75 assists on a contract year. Now teams will come knocking down the door for the wingers services next year. The 28 year old is in the prime of his career and is likely to get a big deal, but will he go with the sentimental pick and sign with Philadelphia, who was his favorite team as a kid. The Flyers don’t have much cap room, so if they are serious about getting Gaudreau they will have to make some moves.

Nazem Kadri

Kadri might be the top center in the this year’s free agent market, and fresh off of a Stanley Cup win will boost his stock even more. He had a career high 87 points last year, and seems to be getting better with age. He will turn 32 in a couple months and teams should be wanting to tempt him away from Colorado. The Avalanche do have quite a bit of cap space, but they did just extend Valeri Nichushkin to a big deal. I could see the Boston Bruins making a move for the London, Ontario nativy, to add some stability in the center position.

Evgeni Malkin

While Malkin is hitting the free agent market for the first time in his NHL career, it would take a tempting offer to pull him out of Pittsburgh. The Penguins seem intent to resign the Russian, but there will surely be offers from contending teams are looking for a veteran, with some Stanley Cup experience. He had 20 goals and 22 assists last year and is still proving to be productive at 35 years. The New York Rangers could be one of those teams. Tampa Bay could also be looking to be to strengthen their already strong squad with a three time Stanley Cup Champion.

Claude Giroux

Claude Giroux has been a mainstay in the league since joining the Philadelphia Flyers in 2007. He is 34 years old, and is most likely on his last deal so he could be looking for one last contract that can send him into retirement with a comfortable sum of cash in his account. He had 21 goals and 44 assists last year, so he has a chance to get a big payday at a team with cap space like Buffalo, or he could want to contend for his first Stanley Cup, but have to take a pay cut to join a team like Colorado or New York. Ottawa is also in the running considering considering Giroux is from there, and they have the cap space to bring him in if they don’t resign Gaudreau.

Jason Robertson

After leading all rookies in assists in the 2020/21 season Robertson exploded for 41 goals and and 38 assists last season. He was just outside the top 10 in goals as a 21 year old, and the sky is the limit for Robertson. Dallas would be foolish to let the possible face of their franchise go, but there will be plenty of bait being dangled over the winger’s head during the free agent market. Anaheim has the most cap space coming into the market, and the Buffalo Sabres are right behind them, but it is unlikely Robertson will depart Dallas.