Back in May, the Detroit Red Wings season had ended, Jeff Blashill was no longer employed, and the NHL playoffs were underway. With just three days until free agency, things have changed.
Detroit Hockey Now’s Kevin Allen previewed ten potential forwards that Steve Yzerman could have interest in once free agency opens on July 13. It’s just three days away and the status of some of those free agents has changed.
Here’s a look at the latest with those free agents, and what Allen wrote back in May.
Free Agents Off the Market
Right wing Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators
The latest: Forsberg was inked to an eight-year, $8.5M AAV deal on Saturday. He will not reach free agency.
Written Back in May: File this one under long shots. Top contenders will be chasing him. But the Red Wings have the cap space to pay him the salary that the Predators don’t seem to want to give him. The Red Wings can also play the Swede card. He could be part of a team that boasts six or seven Swedes in a couple of seasons.
Left wing Andrei Kuzmenko, St. Petersburg, KHL
The latest: Signed an entry-level, one-year deal with Vancouver for $950,000.
Written in May: Reports say at least 20 teams are pursuing the undrafted free agent from the Kontinental Hockey League. Surely, the Red Wings have some interest. Kuzmenko posted 20 goals and 53 points in 45 games this season. He is only 26. The negative is that KHL players seem to have mixed results. Some top players from the KHL have success in the NHL and some don’t. Also, reports have linked Kuzmenko to Vancouver, Edmonton, Nashville and Toronto. There’s been no mention of the Red Wings.
Center or left wing Nick Paul, Tampa Bay Lightning
The latest: Paul was the little engine that could in the playoffs for Tampa, scoring critical goals and making pivotal plays to keep the Lightning’s hope for.a third straight Cup alive. The playoff performance alone earned him a new deal in Tampa.
— NHL (@NHL) July 1, 2022
Written Back in May: He’s a 6-foot-3, 228-pound forward who scored 16 goals and delivered 106 hits this season. He could give the Red Wings more bite while chipping in offensively. He only made $1.5 million last season. The Lightning probably can’t afford to sign him, although they might move players to keep him.
Free Agents That Could Hit the Market
Center Vince Trocheck, Carolina Hurricanes
The latest: Trocheck’s postseason came to an end at the hands of the New York Rangers when they dispatched the Hurricanes in seven games. Trocheck likely drove up his price, having 10 points (6-4) in 14 playoff games. He would be a great fit for a number of teams, and a strong playoff for a strong center means he’ll certainly be able to command a nice paycheck.
Written Back in May: He has Michigan roots. Born in Pittsburgh, moved to Detroit when he was 13. Played in the Little Caesars program. His Ontario Hockey League career was spent in Saginaw and Plymouth. Most importantly, he registered 51 points this season. He has scored 20 or more goals four times. Trocheck also registered 185 hits this season. Would be a significant upgrade over Pius Suter at No. 2 center. Trocheck offers grit and fire. Very good on faceoffs. He has been at 54.4% for Carolina over the past three seasons. Quality defensive player. Hard to play against. The negative is he turns 29 this summer.
Center or wing Andrew Copp, New York Rangers
The latest: Copp was a huge get for New York and was key in their deep playoff run–having 14 points (6-8) in 20 games. He’s likely to command around $5.5M AAV, which might be a little rich for Yzerman should he make it to free agency. All indications seem that the Rangers will push to keep a key part of their playoff run on the roster.
Written Back in May: Grew up in Ann Arbor. Played quarterback for Ann Arbor Skyline. But he was more accomplished in hockey. Played at the University of Michigan. He is 6-foot-1, 210 pounds and the Red Wings want more size at the No. 2 center. Copp can play all three forward positions. Perhaps he wants to play in front of friends and family. The negative is he has played extremely well with the New York Rangers since they acquired him from Winnipeg. Rumor has it that the Rangers will make him a big offer after the season. He has enjoyed his time there.
Center Ryan Strome, New York Rangers
The latest: Along with Copp, Strome is another Ranger who could be courting suitors in three days. Strome will be 29 tomorrow and he had nine points (2-7) in 19 playoff games. His regular season numbers should garner interest if he hits the open market, as it sounds like the Rangers may save their cap space for other players.
Written Back in May: Has averaged 54 points per season for the past three seasons for the Rangers. Had his best scoring output this season with 21 goals. But he plays with Artemi Panarin. How much does that pad his numbers? Strome definitely has skill.
Left wing Ondrej Palat, Tampa Bay Lightning
The latest: His playoff performance is what will get him paid if he does indeed hit the open market. Palat had 21 points (11-10) in 23 playoff games and has the knack to get the big goal when needed. It’s a valuable asset for any team looking to add a clutch scorer for the postseason. Palat has an AAV of $5.3M, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see a shorter term with more money for a proven player.
Written Back in May: He is 31 years old, but is a consistent offensive player. Palat had 49 points this past season. Yzerman knows him well from his days as Tampa Bay’s GM. Assuming Palat believes in what Yzerman can do, could Palat be a short-term solution on a short-term deal?
Left or Right wing Valeri Nichushkin, Colorado Avalanche
The latest: Speaking of clutch, all Nichushkin did was score big goals during the playoffs. Nine of his 15 playoff points were goals and after the playoffs, it was revealed he was playing on a fractured foot. It shouldn’t be a surprise then that reports have an extension all but done between the club and Nichushkin. Should it not, he’ll still see a nice raise after an impressive playoff performance.
The Colorado Avalanche and Valeri Nichushkin are closing in on an extension. Still some work to get down before deal is completed. ##GoAvsGo
— Andy Strickland (@andystrickland) July 8, 2022
Written Back in May: He is 6-foot-4 and the Red Wings want to add some size. He’s 27 and his game is just coming together. Intriguing roll of the dice. He had 25 goals and 89 hits last season. You may not have to break the bank to land him. He’s coming off a $2.5 million contract.
Left or right wing Andre Burakovsky, Colorado Avalanche
The latest: Burakovsky was hobbled by injury during the latter stage of the Stanley Cup Final but it didn’t put a damper on his performance in the playoffs. 12 games with eight points (3-5) may seem on the lighter side, but the goals he scored were massive. The 27-year-old had the game winner in the first game of the Stanley Cup Final, and then it’s revealed after the postseason he played through a broken thumb and a broken ankle. He’ll see an uptick from his $4.9M AAV. Whether it’s with the Avalanche or not is coming down to the wire.
Jared Bednar said Andre Burakovsky broke his foot blocking that shot in the Edmonton series.
Burakovsky broke his thumb on the shot block in Game 2 of the Cup Final.
— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) June 27, 2022
Written in May: He just turned 27 three months ago and averaged 20 goals per season in his last three seasons with Colorado. He’s 6-3 and boasted 61 points this season.
Right wing Ilya Mikheyev, Toronto Maple Leafs
The latest: The Leafs only lasted a round but Mikheyev scored four points with two goals. But with TSN’s Pierre LeBrun saying that the Leafs were shopping his rights, it seems likely that the forward finds a new home on July 13. Mikheyev is seeking a raise so with other names out there, will another team be willing to offer the substantial increase?
The Leafs have informed teams they're open to trading the rights to pending UFA Ilya Mikheyev.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) June 30, 2022
Written in May: The 27-year-old former undrafted former KHL standout keeps improving. He scored 21 goals this season for the Maple Leafs, who may not have the cap space to keep him. The 6-2 forward got his 21 goals average 15 minutes per game. Likes to hit.
Three New Names As Potential Free Agents
Center Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins
There’s still time to get a deal done, but the two sides are reportedly not close to a deal. Even though Malkin is 34, GM Steve Yzerman might be tempted because Malkin is playing at a high level. He could significantly raise this team’s ability to compete.
Probably won’t consider the Red Wings because they are not a contender. But he does respect the team’s history. We are guessing he respects Yzerman.
Center Dylan Strome, Chicago Blackhawks
This is premature because the Blackhawks could still make him a qualifying offer. But all indications are they won’t qualify him, meaning he will be an unrestricted free agent on July 13. Update: The Blackhawks will not be qualifying Strome.
Dylan Strome will not receive a qualifying offer from the Blackhawks, per source. The former No. 3 pick will be a UFA.
Strome averaged nearly a point a game over the second half of the season as the No. 1 center between DeBrincat and Kane. His QO would have been $3.6 million.
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) July 11, 2022
The 25-year-old Strome would fill a need. He’s younger, big (6-foot-3, 205 pounds) and can produce. Last season, he netted 22 goals and posted 48 points in 69 games.
Left Wing Dominek Kubalik, Chicago Blackhawks
Another expected Chicago castoff. The Blackhawks are not going to qualify him, meaning he becomes an UFA. He had a poor season and still managed 15 goals last season.
The lure is he netted 30 goals in 2019-20. Two years ago, he netted 17 in 56 games. That projects to 25 goals over an 82-goal season. The age is right again. He’s 26.