NHL free agency is highly anticipated every summer during the offseason. When does 2023 NHL free agency start?
NHL free agency is set to begin on July 1, 2023, at noon ET. Teams will eagerly seek free agents who fit into their organization’s puzzle. Pending unrestricted free agents can sign new contracts with their current teams before July 1. An unrestricted free agent is a player who has not signed a contract extension prior to free agency officially opening. UFAs are free to sign with any team without restrictions.
A restricted free agent is a player who is no longer entry-level but does not yet qualify for unrestricted free agency based on age or years of experience. Restricted free agents receive a qualifying offer from their current team. If an RFA does not receive a qualifying offer, they become a UFA on July 1.
Every offseason, there are noteworthy unrestricted free agents on the open market. 2023 has notable names among the group of pending UFAs. Some of these names include Patrick Kane (wing), Dmitry Orlov (defenseman), Ryan O’Reilly (center), Alex Killorn (wing), Patrice Bergeron (center), Vladimir Tarasenko (wing), Matt Dumba (defenseman), Tristan Jarry (goaltender), Tyler Bertuzzi (wing), Damon Severson (defenseman), and John Klingberg (defenseman).
When does 2023 NHL free agency start?
While 2023 doesn’t have a very deep pool of pending UFAs, some of the notable players on the market will command big contracts. Others will seek big contracts and might be disappointed. Some players will look for short contracts that will still be worth a lot. Older UFAs like Patrice Bergeron may wonder if they’ve played in their last NHL game. Many teams are dealing with salary cap issues, which can always affect the deals that players on the market will receive.
Dmitry Orlov is expected to receive the biggest deal among the group of pending UFA defensemen. Orlov is coming off a six-year $30.6 million contract. Many were surprised when the long-time Washington Capital was traded to the Boston Bruins at the 2023 trade deadline so that the Capitals could gain draft picks. The 31-year-old two-way defenseman is likely good for one more big contract. There’s a chance Orlov returns to the Capitals for a discount, but he’s likely looking at a five-year deal regardless of where he goes.
Patrick Kane is an interesting free agent due to age and injury. He’s 34 years old and recently underwent hip surgery. Kane is expected to be out for four to six months. It remains to be seen how this will affect his free agency. Kane is a future Hall of Famer, but the team that signs him must be willing to take a risk at this stage of his career.
John Klingberg could be disappointed again this offseason. He settled for a one-year deal last offseason. He’s likely looking for a longer deal this time around, but it’s questionable if he did enough during the 2022-23 season for a team to make a big offer. The offensive defenseman did not have the best season and there are worries about his play declining.
NHL free agency is always full of surprises as teams seek to fill their rosters. The action will unfold beginning July 1.