NHL Notebook: Michael Bunting tops Daily Faceoff’s debut 2023 free agent rankings

Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
10 months ago
It’s Michael Bunting atop Daily Faceoff’s first rendition of the 2023 free agent ranking list.
With Bunting at the top of the list, it should be no surprise that this will be a weaker-than-normal crop of players. There are no real impact players in the class this year and featured more so a group of secondary players.
Here’s some of what Frank Seravalli, who curated the list, wrote, as well as the top 20 names from the list:
There is no sugarcoating this summer’s NHL free agent crop. There will be no hyperbole to drive ratings, or talk about a three-headed monster stalking the top of the list like we’ve had in years past. There will certainly be no Brinks trucks backing up to the house of one newly wealthy individual with $75 or $80 million inside.
Yes, 2023 will likely go down as one of the weakest overall free agent classes in more than a decade. But this class graduates to free agency at a fascinating juncture as the NHL’s salary cap could be increasing in a meaningful way for the first time since 2019.
Beauty will be in the eye of the beholder. Which is why the top available free agent is very much a debate. We’ve ranked Toronto Maple Leafs winger Michael Bunting in the No. 1 spot because he’s strung together two very productive seasons – totaling 44 goals and 109 points – on his first one-way NHL contract. There will be no shortage of teams interested after witnessing the success Zach Hyman has achieved in Edmonton upon departing Toronto. New Jersey’s Damon Severson will also be a hot commodity as a steady, right-shooting defenseman who can chew up minutes.
Alex Killorn and Vladimir Tarasenko, Stanley Cup winners in their own right, have been productive but there will be hesitancy trying to chart their course on the age curve. There are also question marks about the recent injury histories of Tyler Bertuzzi, Jason Zucker, Nick Foligno, Jonathan Drouin and Sean Monahan.
Just because there isn’t a big-name, big-money player leading the class doesn’t mean this summer won’t be interesting. There will be value buys to improve rosters. And a weaker free agent class will only turn up the temperature on the trade market, especially if teams have an influx of new cap space available.
1Michael BuntingLW2773212546TOR$950K
2Damon SeversonRD287362329NJD$4.17M
3Patrick KaneRW3466203353NYR$10.5M
4Ryan O’ReillyC324815924TOR$7.5M
5Dmitry OrlovLD315962632BOS$5.1M
6Alex KillornRW3375233356TBL$4.45M
7J.T. CompherC2873163248COL$3.5M
8Jordan StaalC3472171431CAR$6M
9Vladimir TarasenkoRW3161162844NYR$7.5M
10Tristan JarryG28402.98.908PIT$3.5M
11Max PaciorettyLW345303CAR$7M
12Tyler BertuzziLW284251520BOS$4.75M
13Semyon VarlamovG35222.71.913NYI$5M
14Vladislav GavrikovLD276441115LAK$2.8M
15Ryan GravesLD287161622NJD$3.17M
16Carson SoucyLD287021113SEA$2.75M
17Scott MayfieldRD307551621NYI$1.45M
18Ivan BarbashevLW2774142640VGK$2.25M
19Joonas KorpisaloG29342.92.914LAK$1.3M
20Matt DumbaRD28724913MIN$6M
There’s only one Edmonton Oilers player who made the list: Nick Bjugstad, who came in at number 42.

Chytil signs four-year extension

The New York Rangers have signed forward Filip Chytil to a four-year extension.
Here’s some of what Daily Faceoff’s Steven Ellis wrote about the deal:
Chytil is in the midst of a career year. The 23-year-old has 22 goals and 42 points in 66 games, far surpassing his previous best of 23 that he set during his first two seasons. He followed that up by a pair of 22-point campaigns, so he’s been consistent. Still, this year’s breakout is more like what the Rangers were hoping for after taking him 21st overall in 2017.
At 5-on-5, Chytil’s 17 goals sits one behind Artemi Panarin for the team lead. He’s also fourth in points with 32 and is second behind Panarin (2.55) with 2.34 points-per-game among full-season Rangers.
Born in Czechia, Chytil has represented his country at all major international levels outside of the Olympics. He won gold at the 2016 Hlinka-Gretzky Cup and has four goals and eight points in 20 games over three World Championships.
Currently in the final year of a $2.3 million AAV deal, Chytil is a big 6-foot-3 forward that uses his speed and strength to his advantage. In open space, the center can absolutely fly, and he’s strong enough to win puck battles consistently along the boards.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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