NHL Free Agents 2022: PK Subban Buzz, Nazem Kadri Rumors and Jesper Bratt Predictions
The 2022 edition of NHL free agency kicked off on July 13. At the three-week mark, most of the top free agents are already off the market. However, a few notable names still remain.
Defenseman P.K. Subban, for example, is a player even causal hockey fans may recognize. A 13-year veteran and the 2021-22 King Clancy Memorial Trophy-winner, Subban would be a solid addition for several teams. Yet he remains unsigned.
Also available is center Nazem Kadri, who fans last saw hoisting the Stanley Cup as a member of the Colorado Avalanche. The 31-year-old is arguably the top player still on the market, though he may not be available for long.
What's the latest on NHL free agency? Let's dive into the latest buzz, rumors and predictions.
Subban Wants to Play and Is Drawing Interest
After 13 NHL seasons, Subban isn't the superstar he once was. However, he is still a strong defender and is generating inquiries on the open market.
Subban has largely been overshadowed by players like Johnny Gaudreau and John Klingberg this offseason, but his agent, Don Meehan, told Stu Cowan of the Montreal Gazette that teams have shown interest:
"P.K. just came back from vacation and I talked to him today about the free-agency marketplace and I’ve indicated to him that we’ve had expressions of interest. I've told him that there are teams moving money—assessing what kind of cap space they have, analyzing their depth scenarios to determine just exactly what they can do."
Meehan also noted that Subban "wants to play," which at 33 years old, might not be a given.
Subban is likely to command a short-term deal at this point in his career, but that doesn't mean he'll accept a budget contract. Money, as Meehan noted, will be part of the equation and likely eliminates a return to the Montreal Canadiens—where Subban began his career—from the conversation.
Montreal has less than $1 million in cap space.
A return to the New Jersey Devils, where Subban spent the last three seasons, could work financially, but the acquisition of John Morino makes it unlikely. Cap-comfortable teams like the Dallas Stars and Buffalo Sabres could show interest in adding Subban as a locker-room leader.
One interesting possibility to consider is a return to the Nashville Predators. Subban spent three good seasons there and could partner with former teammate Mattias Ekholm and newcomer Ryan McDonough to give the Preds a playoff-caliber defense.
Nashville still has $4.1 million in cap space and should be eager to end a four-year streak of now getting past the opening playoff round.
Prediction: Subban signs with Nashville
Nazem Kadri Could Land with Islanders Soon
While it's unclear which teams are interested in Subban, one team appears to be the front-runner for Kadri—the New York Islanders.
According to former NHL scout and Barrie Colts (OHL) director of player personnel Mark Seidel, a deal between Kadri and the Islanders is close to being finalized.
"Just got off the phone with a guy that knows & I think that Nazem Kadri is done to NY Islanders," Seidel tweeted. "They have to clear out some cap room & then it'll be announced. I'm FAR from an Insider but I'm very confident that it's done."
This meshes with a recent report from David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period.
"Isles fans, multiple transactions are looking close," Pagnotta tweeted. "In addition to all the Nazem Kadri chatter, which I believe is valid, some internal house cleaning is also being taken care of. When will all the dominoes fall? That’s up to you-know-who."
Pagnotta didn't go into specifics about what other transactions could be coming, but they may include a move at center. With Brock Nelson, Mathew Barzal and J.G. Pageau at the position, New York is already deep there.
Cap space should be less of an issue for the Islanders, who have $11.2 million available. Of course, this doesn't mean that general manager Lou Lamoriello is eager to overspend at any one spot.
Barzal could be a player to watch, as the 25-year-old is set to be a restricted free agent next offseason. Regardless, it certainly sounds like Kadri is headed to New York.
Prediction: Islanders announce Kadri signing by week's end
Jesper Bratt, Devils Still Not Settled on New Contract
While the Devils may consider bringing back Subban, they're focused on trying to work out a deal with 24-year-old winger Jesper Bratt.
Bratt, who appeared in 76 games and notched 73 points (26 goals) last season, is a restricted free agent. The Devils and Bratt have been unable to come to an agreement, and according to Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff, an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
Theoretically, the two sides could reach an agreement before the hearing and avoid arbitration entirely. That feels unlikely, however, as Ryan Novozinsky of NJ.com reported that the two sides aren't particularly close.
"I'm told the NJ Devils are trying to find a 'reasonable middle for both parties.' Their filing was $4.15 million, Bratt’s was $6.5 million," Novozinsky tweeted.
This means that Bratt and the Devils are more than $2 million apart. That's far from an uncrossable divide, but with $8.7 million in cap space, New Jersey won't simply concede.
If the arbitrator rules on the high salary end, the Devils could also reject the contract and allow Bratt to become a free agent. He wouldn't last long on the open market, though, Bratt is young, appears to be a rising star, and there is no shortage of contenders and cap-rich teams that would love to have him.
Regardless of where the arbitrator lands on Bratt's 2022-23 salary, the Devils will most likely agree to it.
Prediction: Bratt remains in New Jersey following arbitration