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Nathan MacKinnon, David Pastrnak Highlight Potential Top 5 NHL Free Agents for Summer of 2023

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BOSTON, MA - MAY 08: David Pastrnak #88 of the Boston Bruins react safer scoring in the third period against the Carolina Hurricanes in Game Four of the First Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on May 8, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. Adam Glanzman/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Adam Glanzman / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

As the summer of 2022 winds down, most of the big-ticket free agents in the National Hockey League have signed, with Nazem Kadri the notable exception.

Looking ahead to next summer, here are five players (plus some honorable mentions) that could be among the top unrestricted free agents next summer.

Because this is super early to look at next summer’s free agents, a lot can change in the meantime, the most obvious being that contract extensions can be signed. Players could be traded, injured, or have a brilliant or awful season in 2022-2023 – any of these things could affect the player’s value when they are seeking a free agent contract in 2023.

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Here is a very early look at the Top 5 potential NHL unrestricted free agents for the summer of 2023.

Nathan MacKinnon, C, Colorado

It seems unfathomable that the Avalanche would do anything other than sign MacKinnon to a long-term contract extension after he finally won his first Stanley Cup in 2022. In the past five seasons, only Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl have accrued more points than MacKinnon, a 26-year-old force of nature on the ice who has 442 points in 338 games in those five seasons.

David Pastrnak, RW, Boston

Coming off the second 40-goal season of his career, 26-year-old “Pasta” is a game-breaking talent who has thrived in Boston, but his skill would play anywhere. In the past four seasons, Pastrnak has tallied 146 goals in 256 games, his 0.57 goals per game ranks fourth in that time, behind Auston Matthews, Alex Ovechkin, and Leon Draisaitl.

Jonathan Huberdeau, LW, Calgary

Recently traded to Calgary in a deal for Matthew Tkachuk, the 29-year-old left winger is coming off a season in which he scored a career-high 115 points; only Connor McDavid had more points in the NHL last season. The Flames might be inclined to sign Huberdeau to an extension but if that does not happen, Huberdeau will be a sought-after playmaker if he reaches the open market.

J.T. Miller, C, Vancouver

A 29-year-old who is coming off the best season of his career, during which he led the Vancouver Canucks with 99 points in 80 games, Miller moved back to the middle of the ice, finished ninth in league scoring and recorded 172 hits, more than any forward who put up at least 70 points. Earlier in the offseason, the Canucks were rumored to be shopping Miller but may still try to work out a long-term deal.

Patrick Kane, RW, Chicago

He is going to turn 34 in November and seems likely to be traded by a rebuilding Chicago squad, but Kane is an incredible point producer who has put up 352 points in 285 games across the past four seasons, his 1.24 points per game is effectively tied with Auston Matthews and Brad Marchand for the sixth-highest point per game rate in the league over that time.

Honorable Mentions: C Dylan Larkin, Detroit; C Ryan O’Reilly, St. Louis; RW Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis; D MacKenzie Weegar, Calgary; G Tristan Jarry, Pittsburgh; C Bo Horvat, Vancouver; LW Tyler Bertuzzi, Detroit; D John Klingberg, Anaheim; RW Joe Pavelski, Dallas; LW Michael Bunting, Toronto.

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