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David Zalobowski/The Associated Press
With 2021-22 NHL The regular season is almost over, 16 teams will soon begin preparing for their Stanley Cup games. And there is no suspense as to who will move, as the field is already set.
As for the other 16 teams, it’s time to start thinking about next season. While the moves can’t be made until the post-season is over, these franchises will reflect on the major decisions they will ultimately have to make later this summer.
This includes how to navigate the free agency. And like every off-season, some top players are expected to hit the market, so it will be interesting to see who signs where and how the league landscape could change.
Even though the free agency is over two months away from us, it’s never too early to start looking to the future. Below is a breakdown of several of the key players set to become free agents this year.
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Kamel Krzaczynski/The Associated Press
Jonny Goudreau enjoyed a solid nine-year NHL career, but took his playing to another level during the 2021-22 season. In 80 appearances, the 28-year-old striker scored 39 goals and 74 assists for 113 career points, and also leads the league with a plus-minus-plus-63 rating.
Gaudreau spent his entire career with Flames, whom he led in the fourth round of the 2011 draft, and was a major reason they were one of the best teams in the Western Conference this season. But is it possible that Goudreau, who is on the cusp of becoming an unrestricted free agent, won’t remain in Calgary when the 2022-23 campaign arrives?
The Flames have many decisions to make, with Matthew Tkachuk going to be a restricted free agent in the final year of his contract, while Elias Lindholm has just two seasons left on his deal and will eventually be poised for a big raise. In addition, Gaudreau . owns Make it known in the past That he might be interested in playing for the Philadelphia Flyers, his hometown team grew up.
It’s early, and Calgary will likely want to try and keep Gaudreau in the fold. But the idea of going to play in Philadelphia might be too tempting. So the expectation here at this point is that Gaudreau will sign with the Flyers, who need a central player to build around them as they try to get the franchise back on track.
prediction: Gaudreau signs with Flyers
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Winslow Townson/The Associated Press
Although Chris Letang is now 35 years old, the 16-year-old NHL veteran continues to play at a high level. In fact, 67 points (nine goals and 58 assists) tied for a career high. So there should be at least a few teams interested in signing the defensive man this summer when he is an unrestricted free agent.
Letang has spent his entire career in Pittsburgh so far. But the penguins could undergo some drastic changes this season, considering striker Evgeni Malkin will also be a UFA. If both leave, the pens will lose two players who have been the cornerstones of the franchise for more than a decade.
TSN’s Darren Dreger I recently mentioned that there is “talk going on” between Letang and Pittsburgh, so it looks like the two sides might try to strike a deal. But Dreger noted that there was a “slow progression” as they focused on the season.
It’s hard to imagine the Penguins lineup without Letang on the Blue Line. So expect them to come up with a new deal and bring him back on ice with them for the 2022-23 season.
prediction: Letang re-signs with the penguins
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Mark Humphrey/The Associated Press
For the past 10 years, Philip Forsberg has had a steady presence in the Nashville Predators’ offensive. And although he played only 68 games during the 2021-22 season, he achieved his career highs in points (83), goals (42) and assists (41) while leading the team to the play-off berth.
Forsberg is still only 27 years old, so he should have plenty of productive years ahead of him. And with his good game this season, he may have increased his market even more.
Earlier in the season, there were trade rumors about Forsberg, but he ended up staying in Nashville after the deadline. But earlier this month, Sportsnet’s Elliot Friedman She reported that Forsberg’s agent, J.P. Barrie, and Predators general manager David Boyle had recently sat down for a chat.
So while Forsberg may be leaving Nashville at some point, that may not be the case. Don’t be surprised if the two sides end up striking a new deal and Forsberg continues to be an essential part of the Breeds’ future offensive.
prediction: Forsberg re-signs with the Predators