Nearly two weeks have passed since the National Hockey League (NHL) free agent market opened, and several big names still haven't put their signatures to the bottom of a new deal.
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Here are five free-as-air athletes who should be finding new homes soon.
Perceived as the best forward available since the Columbus Blue Jackets made a huge pact to Johnny Gaudreau, Kadri has a unique profile in the Bettman circuit. Whoever has just lifted the Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche can fill the opposing net, be used in all sauces and disturb the opponent with his surly and robust style. He had a dream 2021-22 season, scoring 87 points, 26 more than his previous record. The 31-year-old Ontarian is likely looking for the biggest contract of his career, but his acquisition at a big price would be risky in this era where the payroll is everything.
Right-handed and mobile defensemen in the NHL are very few. The 29-year-old Klingberg is not a safe bet due to his one-dimensional style and defensive deficiencies. However, we must give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar: the Swede is one of the best quarterbacks in the Bettman circuit on the power play and has six seasons of 40 points and more before the age of 30. Klingberg has a good size and an excellent ability to spot his teammates. However, it would be surprising to see him evolve on a first pair in a team that aspires to great honors. The former 2010 fifth-round pick is coming off the final season of a $4.25 million annual deal, and he's definitely demanding a hefty raise.
Certainly, Kessel is no longer the shadow of the player he once was. At 34, however, he has just scored 52 points with the Arizona Coyotes, one of the worst teams on the circuit. As an indication, only Nick Suzuki amassed more points with the Montreal Canadiens last season. The American winger won two Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins and played 1,204 NHL games. He could be a solid acquisition for a team looking for offensive depth and a power-play specialist.
The Anaheim Ducks surprised many by choosing not to submit a qualifying offer to the former first-round pick, who finally established himself full-time in the NHL last season. Milano is a creative winger who hasn't struggled to develop a bond with young Trevor Zegras. The New York State native is in his prime, at 26, and will definitely be looking to prove he has the consistency to play in a top 9 on the Bettman Tour. His passing skills are undeniable and he has scored 34 points in 66 games in 2021-22. Its potential should pique the curiosity of a formation lacking in attacking talent.
The offspring of legendary Quebec Nordiques forward Peter Stastny experienced a resurgence in offensive production in 2021-2022. He scored 45 points for the first time since 2015, and hit the 20-goal mark for the first time since 2014. A veteran of 1,072 games in the world's top hockey league, Stastny has never lifted the Lord Stanley trophy and will certainly have this objective in mind in the search for his new contract. He openly displayed his dissatisfaction with the culture that reigned in the Winnipeg Jets locker room during the post-season review, and seems to have his eyes fixed on a contending team. The 36-year-old pivot has earned more than $ 83 million in his career, according to the specialized site CapFriendly … salary should therefore not be the sinews of war in his negotiations.