Three big names still available in NHL free agency.
Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA Today Sports  

Three big names still available in NHL free agency.

There are some very notable names still unsigned this summer, will they get another contract?

Jonathan Larivee

The offseason is rapidly winding down and although we are still a few weeks away from the start of training camps in the National Hockey League, we could see players starting to report back as early as next week with captain skates set to begin around the league.

With that in mind it is somewhat surprising to see a number of big names still unsigned, including players that have been considered star level talents over the years. Today I will be looking at arguably the top 3 players still unsigned, at least in terms of name value, who may not necessarily be in line for another NHL contract.

#1 Phil Kessel.

Perhaps the biggest mystery on this list is enigmatic NHL forward Phil Kessel. Kessel has always been something of an odd ball at the NHL level and although he has always had incredible goal scoring talent his work ethic has been questioned throughout his career.

Most recently, Kessel rode the bench for the Vegas Golden Knights as a healthy scratch throughout the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs but he was a good producer for them during the regular season with 14 goals and 22 assists for a total of 36 points over 82 games.

Kessel would likely need to find a similar role on a contending team if he hopes to secure an NHL contract this season, and may even have to take a pay cut from the $1.55 million he made on his 1 year deal with the Golden Knights.

#2 Jaroslav Halak.

In spite of his age it is somewhat surprising to see the 38 year old veteran NHL goaltender still unsigned at this stage of the offseason. Halak has bounced around the NHL quite a bit during his career but he has always delivered a solid performance between the pipes and did so once again last season in a backup role for the New York Rangers.

Halak is coming off a season that saw him make 25 appaerances for the Rangers on his way to a 2.72 goals against average and a .903 sve percentage, certainly respectable numbers for a backup goaltender.

In spite of his success on nearly every team he has played for Halak remains unsigned and you now have to begin to wonder if that will extend into training camp. Should that be the case, Halak may have to settle for a professional tryout offer at some point, but I do expect that he will earn an NHL contract at some point this season, even if it is in a depth role in net.

#3 Patrick Kane.

Of all the players on this list I believe that Patrick Kane is the closest to being a sure thing. Although it sounds like Kane won't be taking contract offers until later into the season, with December being rumored as the target, there will no doubt be a number of contenders interested in adding the dynamic forward to their lineup.

After a relatively slow start with the New York Rangers last season, following a trade out of Chicago, Kane would end up recording 5 goals and 7 assists for 12 points over 19 regular season games and would add 1 goal and 5 assists for a total of 6 points in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Kane showed that he can clearly still go and, barring any major issues with his recovery from the hip resurfacing procedure he underwent this summer, it seems very likely that we will see him in the NHL again sooner rather than later.