The market for wings is pretty thin outside of a few big names this NHL offseason. Most of the action lies in the restricted free agent market, which includes Calgary Flames wing Matthew Tkachuk, Dallas Stars wing Jason Robertson and New Jersey devils wing Jesper Bratt. In the unrestricted scene, there’s one big name above the rest and not as many franchise-altering players. Let’s take a look at who the top UFA wings are for this offseason.
2022 NHL Free Agency: Wing
Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames
2021-22 stats: 40 goals, 75 assists
Johnny Hockey is who everybody will be watching on Wednesday afternoon. Gaudreau will almost certainly command the largest contract in free agency this year. He’s coming off his best NHL season with 115 points to help the Flames secure 111 points and first place in the Pacific Division. Gaudreau will be 29 in August and is still very much in his prime. He’s also gone through most of his NHL career unscathed without major injuries.
It’s also looking more and more like Gaudreau will leave Calgary. The Flames have had plenty of time to talk Gaudreau into staying and likely have given the LW their best contract offer. He’ll likely mull over the decision a bit but it feels like Gaudreau could bolt to the East coast, where he grew up in NJ. Some of the rumored teams are the Philadelphia Flyers (his childhood team), New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders, all close proximity to where Gaudreau is from in Salem, N.J.
Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators
2021-22 stats: 42 goals, 42 assists
There’s already been reports Forsberg is staying in Nashville. If those are inaccurate, Forsberg has a lot of appeal to many teams in free agency. He’s coming off a career-high 84 points, including a career mark in goals with 42. The Preds were able to advance to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the eighth straight season, six under Peter Laviolette and twice with John Hynes. That sort of stability is clearly very appealing to Forsberg, who has played the past 10 years for Nashville.
Andre Burakovsky, Colorado Avalanche
2021-22 stats: 22 goals, 39 assists
Burakovsky is coming off his best NHL season with 61 points in 80 games for the Avs, who won the Cup. Only 11 of those points came with the man-advantage, though playing with Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar, Nazem Kadri, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog has its perks. Does that mean Burakovsky was more a product of the Avs? That could scare some teams away from giving Burakovsky too much money/term in a new deal. He’s been a very solid middle-six wing for most of his career with Colorado and Washington. At 27 years old, giving Burakovsky 5-6 years isn’t the worst thing in the world, plus there’s still some room for improvement. The Austrian forward was a first-round pick and touted prospect coming into the NHL. Burakovsky feels like a safe bet in free agency and a player who could make the deal look even better.
Other wings available: Valeri Nichushkin, Claude Giroux, Andrew Copp, David Perron, Phil Kessel