Training camps will open overseas very soon. First, these will be training camps for beginners, and then – the main fees for everyone who is on contracts. By the end of the first week of September, quite a lot of well-known hockey players had not been able to conclude new agreements in the NHL clubs. Perhaps some of them will end their careers, someone will risk moving to Europe, but someone will wait until the last in North America.
v. Tuukka Rusk
The 34-year-old Finnish goalkeeper has already announced that he is not chasing money and wants to play only in Boston, where he spent most of his overseas career. Everyone remembers his decision to leave the bubble early during the pandemic playoffs 2020, which was received with hostility by many fans. Now Rusk wants to return, but there is no contract, and there are a lot of health problems.
In July, he underwent surgery on a sore hip – he will not be able to play until January. Boston have already radically renewed the goalie line, releasing Yaroslav Galak (Vancouver) and Dan Vladar (Calgary), while the Bruins’ goal will be defended by the younger Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Sveiman. The situation with Rusk will clearly be on the periphery of the attention of Boston’s management, and he may not wait for a new contract.
h. Jason Demers
The 33-year-old couch defender is still available in the market, although most of the right-handed defencists have long been snapped up. Last season, he only averaged 4 points for assists with Arizona, but spent more than 17 minutes on average per game and was useful in his zone. The previous contract in the amount of $ 4.5 million is no longer possible, but sooner or later Demers must sign – wedges were knocked out by Edmonton, which was trying to offer a trial contract.
n. Nikita Gusev
The 29-year-old Russian played in the NHL for two years, and if the first season was excellent (13 goals and 44 points in 66 games), then the last championship was disappointing. Changing from New Jersey to Florida, the hero of Pyeongchang never caught the right rhythm in the lineup. Nikita is only 29 years old, and there must be some interest in him, but would anyone in the NHL want to give him another chance? Tinkering with the Russians, who do not quite correspond to the overseas nuances of the game, is now not accepted, but in the KHL they are waiting for him with open arms.
n. Travis Zaydzak
The 36-year-old veteran could return to the minimum contract and center position of the bottom two tiers. His best asset is still playing on face-offs (53.8%), but there is no point to wait for the points scored – last season Travis scored 21 points in 46 matches.
h. Sami Vatanen
The 30-year-old Finn is plagued with injuries and his stock has plummeted since he was a young Anaheim player. Vatanen’s attacking potential remained, and in the third pair of defense it is quite adequate, but in the last four seasons this defender has not taken root anywhere, replacing Anaheim, Carolina, New Jersey and Dallas. If Vatanen can resurrect himself, he will celebrate his 500th NHL game this coming season. The Islanders and Edmonton were named the most likely contenders, but there seemed to be no substantive interest so far.
h. Zdeno Hara
The Slovak giant hasn’t retired yet. The 44-year-old Hara may pursue a career, but it is not known if Boston will offer him a one-year contract so that Zdeno can finish his performances in the team where he won the Stanley Cup. So far, Big Z is spending time in Slovakia and is actively training.
Last season, he signed a one-year deal with Washington DC one week before training camp. According to rumors, Haray may be interested in St. Louis, and in addition, the Slovak may be invited by the Rangers.
n. Ryan Donato
Rarely does a 25-year-old striker, capable of both center and flank, hang out without work until mid-September. But San Jose, which bought Donato in 2020, didn’t consider him worthy of a qualifying offer – that’s why he’s here. The Boston native has averaged 20 points each in short-term championships for two consecutive seasons, and he can find work in the bottom six forwards. A new short-term deal could refresh his career and help clubs looking for more depth in their midfield squad.
n. Alex Galchenyuk
At Toronto, he seemed to be doing well, clearly feeling that his career in the NHL was in jeopardy. Maple Leaves did not publicly close the door for Galchenyuk’s return, and they even say that Montreal, which once drafted the striker, may show interest in him. His most recent contract was just over $ 1 million. Will he be able to accept it again?
n. Tyler Bozak
A master of the face-off game, he is the highest scoring (average points per career match) unrestricted free agent at the beginning of September. Bozak was considered a reliable third-tier center, but somehow he was rapidly aging, and he will have to lose a lot in salary (the previous contract was $ 5 million per season).
If St. Louis has an option to exchange Vladimir Tarasenko, then Bozak may well conclude a new contract with the “musicians”, especially since he still skates with the team.
n. Artem Anisimov
Assumptions that Artem will return to Lokomotiv Yaroslavl after the end of his contract with Ottawa have not yet been confirmed. As Andrei Skabelka said, Anisimov is waiting for offers from the NHL, and he should get in touch with Yaroslavl in mid-September.
He has chances to stay overseas, since Anisimov is an experienced, versatile and well-known hockey player for NHL managers. Yes, recent seasons have not been entirely successful, but he may well receive a minimum contract of about $ 1 million. True, it is possible that you will have to wait until the end of October or mid-November, when the regular season will already begin, and someone will need to plug holes due to injuries.