Top 10 UFAs That Will See a Big Raise

Tom Collins

2022-06-27

Never be surprised by dumb decisions a GM will make. That goes for both the NHL and your fantasy league. 

NHL GMs love to overspend on the free-agent market in an effort to show their bosses and the fans that they are committed to improving the team. To do so, they’ll often overlook a player’s history and will instead focus on a much smaller sample size. More often than not, those deals don’t age well. 

The 2016 offseason is probably best known for this, when Kyle Okposo, Loui Eriksson, Milan Lucic, David Backes, Andrew Ladd and Frans Nielsen all signed at least six-year deals for at least $5.5 million per season. 

To make things more interesting, this summer will be the first time since 2019 that many NHL teams will be looking to spend and that the salary cap has increased. In 2020 and 2021, there was uncertainty about whether Covid would impact revenue and if fans would be allowed into the buildings for every game. Many teams looked to keep costs down and didn’t overspend on free agents (even though some GMs still couldn’t help themselves, see the Jesperi Kotkaniemi offer sheet). 

Any crazy free agent signings will impact anyone in fantasy cap leagues as last year’s bargain darling can quickly turn into next season’s overpriced bum. 

Of course, UFA contracts are hard to predict. Look at Claude Giroux as a great example. If he wants to chase a Stanley Cup, he will probably have to sign for less money than if he goes to a middling team. Does a desire for a cup weigh more than the desire for a big paycheck?

Below are 10 players who could see significant pay increases this offseason. 

10. Mason Marchment

Going into this season, Marchment had played 37 career games and had a total of two goals and 11 points. This year, he put up 47 points in 54 games, a 71-point pace. That’s an impressive later-career breakout season for someone who just turned 27 years old and made $800,000 this season. He’s never been much of a point-getter, so this season was a huge shock. He also put up 53 PIM and 114 hits. There could be a GM that will convince himself that Marchment’s season wasn’t an anomaly and offer him a multi-million-dollar deal. 

9. Nick Paul

In terms of fantasy, Paul hadn’t done much in his NHL career heading into this season, and his $1.35 million cap hit reflected that. His career high was 20 points when the puck dropped on this season, but then he put up 18 in 59 games with the Sens. A trade to the Lightning lit a fire under him, where he had 14 points in 21 games while getting some playing time on the top line. He had nine points in 23 postseason games this year, which isn’t a lot, but he has been scoring timely goals. He had two goals in a 2-1 Game 7 win over the Leafs in round one. A goal to pull the Lightning within one in Game 2 against the Rangers with three minutes left in the game. The first goal for Tampa in game one of the finals when the Lightning w