The NHL’s free-agent frenzy is back in its regular time-slot.
After three years of schedule disruptions because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the league’s signing period returns to July 1.
And while there might not be as many big names on the board as usual, general managers looking to upgrade or round out rosters should still have plenty of talent to choose from in the unrestricted free agent pool — from aging stars to role players to veteran goaltenders.
With a month to go until the opening bell sounds on Canada Day at noon ET, The Canadian Press takes a look at some of the names poised to hit the market:
RYAN O’REILLY (2022-23 salary cap hit: US$7.5 million)
The 32-year-old centre was acquired by Toronto from St. Louis in mid-February as part of a blockbuster deal prior to the NHL trade deadline. O’Reilly, who won the Stanley Cup with the Blues in 2019, helped the Maple Leafs win a playoff series for the first time since 2004 and remains a valuable asset down the middle. Limited by injuries last season, the 2019 Conn Smythe Trophy winner as post-season MVP registered 16 goals and 30 points in 53 games in 2022-23. He added three goals and nine points in 11 playoff contests.
PATRICK KANE (2022-23 salary cap hit: $10.5 million)
The 34-year-old winger bid farewell to the Chicago Blackhawks when he was shipped to the New York Rangers ahead of the deadline. The three-time Cup winner had 21 goals and 57 points in 73 games last season. He also scored once and assisted on five others in the Rangers’ first-round playoff exit. Kane is no longer the player who got the Conn Smythe nod in 2013 and the Hart Trophy three years later as NHL MVP, but can still drive offence from the wing.
VLADIMIR TARASENKO (2022-23 salary cap hit: $7.5 million)
Another deadline acquisition by the Rangers, the winger had 18 goals and 50 points in 69 combined games with New York and St. Louis in 2022-23. Tarasenko, a Cup winner with O’Reilly and the Blues, put up a goal and three assists in the playoffs for the Rangers. The 31-year-old has played more than 75 contests just once in the past five seasons because of various injuries.
TYLER BERTUZZI (2022-23 salary cap hit: $4.75 million)
The 28-year-old winger combined to put up eight goals and 30 points in 50 games with the Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins in 2022-23. Bertuzzi, who had a 30-goal season in 2021-22, added 10 points in the Bruins’ first-round upset at the hands of the Florida Panthers. He’s also had injury trouble, appearing in a full slate of games just once in his five full NHL seasons.
DMITRY ORLOV (2022-23 salary cap hit: $5.1 million)
Shipped from Washington to Boston at the trade deadline, the 31-year-old leads the UFA defence corps after registering seven goals and 36 points in 66 games with the Capitals and Bruins. The left-shot blueliner had 17 points in 23 regular-season contests for Boston to go along with eight assists in seven playoff appearances.
MATT DUMBA (2022-23 salary cap hit: $6 million)
The 28-year-old defenceman appears poised to leave the Minnesota Wild after being drafted seventh overall by the organization in 2012. The right-shooting Dumba put up a career-low four goals and 14 points in 79 games in 2022-23.
DAMON SEVERSON (2022-23 salary cap hit: $4.166 million)
Another right-shot blueliner, the 28-year-old could be moving on from the New Jersey Devils after nine seasons. Severson had seven goals and 33 points in 81 games in 2022-23.
MICHAEL BUNTING (2022-23 salary cap hit: $950K)
The gritty winger finally broke through in the NHL with his hometown Maple Leafs thanks to consecutive 23-goal seasons. Drafted in the fourth round by Arizona in 2014, the fiery 27-year-old plays on the line, and sometimes crosses it, as witnessed by his three-game suspension in the playoffs with Toronto.
TRISTAN JARRY (2022-23 salary cap hit: $3.5 million)
The 28-year-old goaltender’s time in Pittsburgh could be coming to an end. A second-round pick of the Penguins in 2013, Jarry has a career save percentage of .914 to go along with a 2.65 goals against average.
FREDERIK ANDERSEN (2022-23 salary cap hit: $4.5 million)
The 33-year-old is coming off two solid seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes, including a .927 save percentage and a 1.83 GAA in the 2023 playoffs. Other goaltenders primed to potentially hit the UFA market include Adin Hill of the Vegas Golden Knights, Semyon Varlamov of the New York Islanders, Joonas Korpisalo of the Los Angeles Kings, and Cam Talbot of the Ottawa Senators.
Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press