2022-23 Free Agency Recap

2022-23 Free Agency Recap

The dust has mostly settled from free agency, so we have a pretty good idea of what teams are going to look like heading into this fall. As usual, it was a busy stretch with many big names landing in new places. Let's take a look at some of the biggest moves and how they could impact your fantasy drafts. 

Johnny Gaudreau The Blue Jackets made the biggest splash in free agency, as they ended up reeling in Johnny Gaudreau. Coming off of a massive 40-goal, 115-point season, Gaudreau gives the Blue Jackets some instant credibility as they look to contend in a tough Metropolitan Division. The 29-year-old's seven-year deal cements him as a top-six fixture, and he'll likely work on the top line with Patrik Laine, who later signed a four-year deal. That duo should complement each other well -- Gaudreau's a crafty playmaker, while Laine has an elite shot. The concern is a lack of a proven No. 1 center for Columbus, though youngsters like Cole Sillinger and Kent Johnson should get a chance between the star wingers, while Boone Jenner is a reliable, hard-working veteran who could see a boost. 

Matthew Tkachuk, MacKenzie Weegar The Flames' rough start to free agency continued when Matthew Tkachuk informed the team he wouldn't sign long-term. Backed into a corner, general manager Brad Treliving pulled off a blockbuster trade, sending Tkachuk to the Panthers for Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar. Tkachuk's well-rounded game will play anywhere, and he'll likely settle into a top-line role alongside Aleksander Barkov for the bulk of the next decade. In turn, Huberdeau is a like-for-like replacement for Gaudreau alongside Elias Lindholm on the Flames' top line, while Weegar's effective play in all zones should put him in the top four with a chance at power-play time. While not a true open-market move, this landscape-altering trade has the potential to be a win-win. 

Claude Giroux is the biggest name to pull off a homecoming, as the Hearst, Ontario native signed with the Senators on a three-year deal. He's maintained solid offense into his 30s, picking up 21 goals and 44 assists in 75 games between the Flyers and Panthers last year. The Senators also added Alex DeBrincat in a draft-day deal -- combined with cornerstones like Brady Tkachuk, Josh Norris and Tim Stutzle, this top six could be sneaky good. Giroux should still challenge for 60 points while providing key veteran leadership to a young team. 

Ondrej Palat The Lightning took care of some business as they signed Anthony Cirelli, Mikhail Sergachev and Erik Cernak to eight-year deals on the first day of free agency. That meant Ondrej Palat would walk, and he didn't take long to find a new home in New Jersey. Like Giroux in Ottawa, Palat has a chance to provide a veteran resume to a young Devils team. Best-case scenario, he clicks with Jack Hughes and leads the Devils to a breakout. Even if that doesn't come to fruition, Palat should still offer roughly 50 points, power-play production and solid physical play in a second-line role at worst. 

John Klingberg The defense market moved slower, as top blueliner John Klingberg inked a one-year deal with the Ducks in late July. More of an offensive source than a shutdown defender, Klingberg's arrival in Anaheim likely bumps one of Cam Fowler or Kevin Shattenkirk from power-play duties. Jamie Drysdale will be in that mix as well, but with the Ducks' rebuild relying on growth from within, Klingberg could be an anchor in terms of plus-minus rating. His one year deal indicates he could be on the move again at the trade deadline, but he'll likely be stuck with a weaker team situation for three-quarters of the campaign. 

Darcy Kuemper For the second year in a row, the Avalanche saw their starting goalie leave in free agency. This time, it was Darcy Kuemper bolting to Washington to be the Capitals' new starter after they parted ways with both Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek. Leaving the Avalanche's smothering defense could see Kuemper regress a bit from the 2.54 GAA and .921 save percentage he posted last year in a career-high 57 games. Health will be the key here -- next up on the depth chart is career AHLer Charlie Lindgren, so Kuemper is probably looking at a workhorse role. 

Ilya Samsonov The aforementioned Samsonov found a landing spot in Toronto, signing a one-year deal with a chance to be the Maple Leafs' No. 1 in goal. He's coming off a career-worst 3.02 GAA and an .896 save percentage, so he'll have plenty to prove in a pressure cooker of a market. Samsonov will be high-risk, high-reward choice for fantasy managers willing to take a gamble for a third netminder, especially with the oft-injured Matt Murray in contention for starting duties. 

Jack Campbell With the Maple Leafs moving on, Jack Campbell signed a five-year deal with the Oilers to be their answer in goal. He'll get a downgrade on the defense in front of him, but the Oilers will hope he plays like he did last fall (1.94 GAA, .937 save percentage in his first 23 games) rather than how he closed out the year (3.27 GAA, .893 save percentage in his last 26 games). The Oilers' offense can outscore mediocrity, but Campbell playing well could cash in a lot of wins for fantasy managers. 

Vincent Trocheck The Rangers found themselves an upgrade for second-line center, inking Vincent Trocheck to a seven-year deal. The 29-year-old has shown flashes of potential in the past, exceeding 50 points in three of his nine seasons and topping the 70-point mark once. If the Rangers keep Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad together, Trocheck figures to be the trigger man for Artemi Panarin -- that's an upgrade over the consistent, but unremarkable linemates Trocheck had in Carolina. 

Ryan Strome That job opened up for Trocheck because the Rangers allowed Ryan Strome to walk in free agency, and he signed for five years with the Ducks. The Ducks needed another top-six center following Ryan Getzlaf's retirement, and Strome fits the bill, albeit with a more scoring-focused skill set. He's good enough to take pressure off Trevor Zegras, but it could be difficult for Strome to put together his third 50-point campaign in four years on a rebuilding team. 

Dylan Strome Ryan wasn't the only Strome brother to find a new home this summer, as younger brother Dylan linked up with the Capitals. Dylan's deal is a one-year pact, though he should step into a second-line role since Nicklas Backstrom (hip) is expected to miss most of the upcoming season. Strome put up 48 points in 69 contests with the Blackhawks last year and will be surrounded with solid supporting talent in Connor Brown, Anthony Mantha and T.J. Oshie as his most likely wingers. 

Andrew Copp Coming off of a career-best 21-goal, 53-point season split between the Jets and Rangers, Andrew Copp got a five-year deal from the Red Wings. The 28-year-old's value will always be higher on the ice, but he's shown improved scoring ability over the last two years. The Wings also signed David Perron, who should work alongside Copp in a second-line role, and Dominik Kubalik, who will be looking to bounce back from a 32-point effort with the Blackhawks last year. Detroit's moves give them better middle-six depth behind an emerging core. 

Andre Burakovsky cashed in on his 22-goal, 61-point campaign by signing with the Kraken for four years. The Colorado-to-Seattle pipeline hasn't yielded much fruit yet with Philipp Grubauer and Joonas Donskoi's struggles last year, but Burakovsky has a better resume than his old/new teammates. He should get a look in the top six, and that means he'll probably be alongside one of Matty Beniers or Shane Wright as the Kraken look for a much better second season. 

Patrice Bergeron/David Krejci The Bruins got the band back together, handing out one-year deals to Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. Both should be top-six fixtures as Boston looks to go on one more run, but how much the two centers in their mid-30s can contribute remains to be seen, especially with injuries impacting the supporting cast. 

There's still a few dominoes to fall, as Nazem Kadri, Phil Kessel and P.K. Subban headline the remaining available free agents. 

RotoWire Community
Join Our Subscriber-Only NHL Chat
Chat with our writers and other RotoWire NHL fans for all the pre-game info and in-game banter.
Join The Discussion
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shawn Hutchinson
Shawn has covered sports independently since 2010, and joined RotoWire in 2019. He serves as a beat writer for the Calgary Flames and contributes in hockey and baseball. Shawn also enjoys soccer, rooting on his hometown teams: Sounders FC and Reign FC.
2022-23 Yahoo Sleepers
2022-23 Yahoo Sleepers
2022-23 Potential Busts
2022-23 Potential Busts
2022-23 Top 10 Fantasy Rookies
2022-23 Top 10 Fantasy Rookies
2022-23 CBS Sleepers
2022-23 CBS Sleepers
2022-23 NHL TOP 200 PROSPECTS - PART 1: 51-200
2022-23 NHL TOP 200 PROSPECTS - PART 1: 51-200
2022-23 Potential Busts
2022-23 Potential Busts