NHL Free Agency 2022: Live Ratings for All the Biggest Signings | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats & Rumors

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    The annual NHL Free Agent Market opens at noon ET on Wednesday, July 13. As usual, we can expect a flurry of contract signings over the next few days as general managers try to land the top unrestricted free agents.

    With a salary cap reaching just $82.5 million for 2022-23, 24 of the 32 NHL clubs have less than $20 million in cap space, 14 of which have less than $10 million. This could have an effect on the UFA market, placing significant limits on where players can sign and how much they can get.

    Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang and Nashville Predators winger Filip Forsberg recently re-signed long-term contracts with their current clubs. Nevertheless, the market still included notable talents such as left winger Johnny Gaudreau, center Evgeni Malkin and versatile forward Claude Giroux.

    Here are our live ratings for the biggest signings in this year’s NHL UFA market. We’ve also included Letang and Forsberg in our list.

    Feel free to voice your thoughts on this topic in the comments section below.

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    In the days leading up to the start of free agency, it looked like Evgeni Malkin’s 16-season career with the Pittsburgh Penguins was coming to an end. Monday, Darren Dreger of TSN reported the 35-year-old center planned to test the market.

    A few hours before the start of the free agent period at noon ET, however, Malkin and the Penguins
    reached an agreement on a new contract. This is a four-year, $24.4 million contract with an annual cap of $6.1 million. The agreement also includes a full non-movement clause throughout this contract.

    A future Hall of Famer, Malkin helped the Penguins win the Stanley Cup in 2009, 2016 and 2017. He won the Art Ross Trophy twice and has also won the Calder Memorial Trophy, the Hart Memorial Trophy, the Ted Lindsay Award and the Conn Smythe Trophy. He is second all time among Penguins players in games played (981) and third all-time in total goals (444), assists (702) and points (1,146).

    Age and injuries have taken their toll on Malkin in recent years. Knee surgery last June, he sidelined him for the first 34 games of 2021-22. When healthy, however, he remains a point-per-game player.

    Malkin’s hit cap is similar to recently signed teammate Kris Letang Contract
    but for two years less. Even if it still takes a significant part of the Penguin cap payroll, that’s a big pay cut from his previous contract’s $9.5 million. His age and injury history remain concerns, but he should still prove himself to be a productive second-line center for at least half of this trade.


    Category B

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    The Pittsburgh Penguins provided some excitement ahead of the start of the 2022 NHL Draft on July 7, re-signing Kris Letang to a six-year, $36.6 million term. contract extension (average annual value of $6.1 million). Compatible with caps says the deal comes with a full no-move clause in the first four seasons.

    Letang, 35, was coming off a career-best 68 points in 2021-22. The Penguins blue line stalwart had completed an eight-year contract worth an annual salary cap of $7.25 million. He spent all of his 16 NHL seasons with the Penguins, scoring 42 or more points nine times.

    The good news for the Penguins is that they convinced Letang to agree to a lower annual cap. The bad news is that they have made a long-term investment in a defender who will be 41 when this contract expires.

    Letang’s conditioning and consistency suggest he should still give the Penguins maybe three more solid seasons as a puck defenseman. However, there is a real risk that his performance will decline significantly in the latter half of this deal, making him a potentially costly burden at this stage.

    This deal is structured to pay Letang $4.8 million in actual salary over the past two years, with just $1 million in base salary after the Penguins paid $3.8 million in signing bonuses at the start of each new season. Still, the $6.1 million cap hit and 10-team no-trade clause in those years could become a salary cap headache.


    Category B-

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    John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images

    Filip Forsberg is the Nashville Predators franchise manager with 220 goals and is among their top five with 249 career assists and 469 total points. On July 11, they assured that he would have the opportunity to add to these statistics by officially announcing his signing of a new eight-year contract,
    $68 million contract.

    Forsberg spent his entire nine-season NHL career with the Predators. During that span, he scored 21 or more goals and 48+ points on seven occasions. Last season was his best, with a career-high 42 goals and 42 assists for 84 points in 69 games.

    It was an expensive signing for the Predators. However, he was a general manager who David Poile felt should be appointed or risk losing his best marksman at a time when he tries to retool this club as Stanley Cup contenders. They need Forsberg to achieve that goal, especially if he continues to hit the 40-goal plateau on a regular basis.

    The duration and cost of Forsberg’s agreement carry certain risks. The 27-year-old winger may never return to the attacking heights of last season. He will be in the mid-30s in the second half of the deal, which is when a goalscorer’s production declines. He is also the fourth Predators player with an annual cap reached. exceeding $8 millionbiting deep into their cap space.

    Nonetheless, Poile felt his chances of regaining his contender status were better with Forsberg than without. He’s made a costly long-term investment in his best winger, one he hopes will succeed in the long run.


    Grade: B+

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    Derek Leung/Getty Images

    Evander Kane appeared to be heading for free agency after TSN Pierre LeBrun reported the Edmonton Oilers granted his agent permission to speak with other clubs. However, it appears the 30-year-old winger didn’t like what he could have received on the open market, agreeing to a four-year contract, $20.5 million contract with the Oilers.

    Following the termination of his contract with the San Jose Sharks last January, Evander Kane signed a one-year contract, $2.1 million contract with the Edmonton Oilers. He quickly established strong chemistry with superstar Connor McDavid, tallying 22 goals and 39 points in 43 regular season games as well as 13 goals in 15 playoff games.

    It’s a reasonable signing for both parties. While this is still a pay cut for Kane from the $7 million a season he was making with the Sharks, it’s a big boost from what he was getting from Oilers last season. He also has the opportunity to spend the next four seasons as a winger for McDavid. The Oilers, meanwhile, are retaining their front-row left winger without paying too much for the privilege.

    Uncertainty still hangs over Kane. The NJHLA filed a grievance against the Sharks on his behalf for the termination of his contract which is still awaiting a hearing by an arbitrator. He was the subject of well-documented investigations and a 21-game suspension last year before joining the Oilers.

    Still, there’s no denying that Kane has adapted well to the Oilers and his play has been well received by Edmonton fans. This deal could turn into a bargain if he continues his scoring ways. That seems likely considering he’ll be skating alongside the NHL’s best player.


    Rating: A-

Christy J. Olson