With the first puck drop of the 2021/22 NHL season just a little over a month away, we check out some of the top restricted free agents available to teams in the market. Who knows, there could be a player without a team now who could end in the 2022 Stanley Cup finals.
34 year old Rask has had one hell of a career, he is a Vezina trophy winner and a Stanley Cup champion with the Boston Bruins back in 2011. So why has he still not been claimed by any teams yet? Well namely because he underwent surgery in late July for a torn hip labrum. There’s also the fact he has openly stated that he only wishes to return to the Boston Bruins and is prepared to take a wage cut if they wish to have him back.
The Finnish Goaltender won’t be available until at least January and by then he could be well out of Boston’s thoughts as they have two up and coming goaltenders in the crease this season. So it seems Rask will either return to the Bruins in January to play a very small backup role or else most likely retire. The Bruins are currently +1300 to lift the Stanley Cup this season.
Yes, you read that correctly, that is the 44 year old Chara who is still playing in the NHL, and because he is not retired, he is still officially the oldest man and tallest man in the NHL, standing at 6ft 7inches (2.06m).
Chara is currently in his home country of Slovakia spending time with family, his agent has stated that he is still working out and looking to leave his options open. Last season he was in a similar predicament and only signed for the Washington Capitals just before training camp. Word is there are a few teams interested in Chara, such as both New York teams (he previously played with the Islanders between 1997 and 2001. Another team said to be interested is the St Louis Blues. Right now this is all hearsay but we do think he will end up playing this year as he is still super fit for his age, an excellent penalty killer and a super veteran.
He might just play one more season in order to represent his country at next year’s Winter Olympics in Beijing.
Bozak is a pretty big name sitting on this free agents list, he 35 year old former St Louis Blues and Stanley Cup winner has yet to find a team this season, although we are almost certain he won’t go unsigned.
Of all the free agents left, Bozak averaged the most points last season and the only reason he hasn’t been resigned by the Blues is down to salary cap, the Blues need to free up some space if they wish to resign the American. According to reports, Bozak is still in St Louis skating with his former teammates. There has also been word that the Montreal Canadians are interested in a bottom six centre, watch this space.
Donato is already looking for his fouth NHL team in just a short amount of time as a “pro” hockey player, and this really is his last chance to make it in the NHL (should a team give him that chance). Donato was traded for by the Sharks last season and this year they haven’t offered him a qualifying offer. The issue here is the lowly Sharks don’t want you well then who else does?
Donato has come off back to back 20 point seasons and would be a perfect bottom six player for a young and upcoming team, he is still just 25 years old and with a salary cap hit of around 2 million, he might be worth a gamble for a few teams. Although at the time of writing there doesn’t seem to be many takers.
Other Notable Free Agents
- Zach Praise: Said to be joining the NY Islanders
- Eric Stall: No Rumours
- James Neal: Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh Rumours
- Artem Anisimov: No Rumours
- Brian Boyle: Try-out with Penguins, Potential contract
- Tyler Ennis: No Rumours, most likely will be signed by someone