2022 NHL Free Agency Day 1 saw a flurry of signings and plenty of top hockey players changing teams. As we enter Day 2, most of the top NHL free agents have found new homes as you prepare for fantasy hockey drafts this upcoming season. We also saw a few blockbuster trades go down that will affect fantasy hockey lineups in 2022. The Columbus Blue Jackets signed Johnny Gaudreau, the New Jersey Devils added Ondrej Palat, and the Ottawa Senators grabbed Claude Giroux to headline the fantasy hockey news. The Detroit Red Wings also made a ton of moves on Wednesday. How will these NHL free agency signings impact fantasy hockey rankings or NHL projections? Let's look at the biggest signings from Day 1 of the 2022 NHL Free Agency and what these moves might mean for your fantasy hockey lineups next season.



2022 NHL Free Agency News



Johnny Gaudreau signing with the Columbus Blue Jackets was easily the biggest surprise in free agency, and really quite the head-scratcher. He reportedly turned down a longer contract worth more money from the Flames – who were the second-best team in the West during the regular season last year – to go to Columbus? I would have understood the Devils or the Flyers, as it had long since been known that Gaudreau wanted to come back to the East Coast to be closer to his family. Nonetheless, we shouldn’t expect a 100-point season from Gaudreau this year. If I was being optimistic, I would project him at around 80 points. If you told me that he would be closer to 60 points, I wouldn’t be surprised, as it will take him some time to get used to his new team.



The New Jersey Devils were in need of wingers, so the signing of Ondrej Palat makes sense. He will see top-six minutes with the Devils and likely the top power play as well. The ultimate question surrounding Palat early on is how productive can he be not playing with Nikita Kucherov. I will buy some stock of Palat if he is going to be playing most of his time with Jack Hughes but otherwise, he is a player I would avoid as he isn’t going to create much on his own. 



A month ago, I was skeptical that Claude Giroux would sign in Ottawa, but this move makes a lot more sense now. He moves into what appears to be one of the better top-six forward groups in the league. The biggest question with Giroux is going to be how much he plays for the Senators. There is reason to be optimistic, though, as he still played 18-plus minutes even after the move to the Panthers last year. His situation in Ottawa shouldn’t be much different.




I can only imagine that the Anaheim Ducks either offered the most money or the longest term, as this isn’t an ideal landing spot for Ryan Strome. Yes, he will continue to get top-six minutes, but it is hard to see him having the same fantasy production with the Ducks that he did with the Rangers.




I have often been a fan of David Perron, especially in the later rounds of fantasy hockey drafts. He is a sneaky 60-point player year in and year out and I don’t expect that to change with the Detroit Red Wings. Perron will continue to see top-six minutes and likely the top powerplay unit as well on a team that is rapidly improving.




Dominik Kubalik is another player who could be worthy of a late-round flier in drafts. He is just two years removed from his 30-goal rookie season. If Kubalik is put in the right position to succeed, there is no reason to believe that he couldn’t score 25-plus goals and be a very productive player for the Detroit Red Wings – his new team.




Intimidation is the finest form of flattery, they say, and this is yet another player who has moved from Colorado to the Seattle Kraken. The move should lead to an increase in minutes for Andre Burakovsky, but with that comes a significant decrease in the talent he is playing with. I would avoid him in drafts.





Mason Marchment could be interesting in Dallas. He broke out for the Panthers last season, with 18 goals and 47 points, and he should find himself playing 16-18 minutes per night with the Stars. That could lead to 50-plus points for him this season, especially if Dallas starts to play a more offensive style – which is very possible under their new head coach.




Last season was full of ups and downs for Darcy Kuemper. He struggled to start the season before settling in and becoming one of the better goalies in the league by the halfway point, at least from a numbers perspective. Kuemper has long since shown that he will stop a high percentage of pucks and if he can continue that trend, he could be a very valuable fantasy asset. The Washington Capitals, his new squad, will likely ensure he sees 30-plus shots more often than he doesn’t. You will just need to be patient as he could have another slow start.




The key for Andrew Copp will be how he's deployed with the Detroit Red Wings. I’m not certain that he is going to be on the top powerplay with Dylan Larkin still in town, but he will see top-six minutes. Copp can be valuable in leagues where there are more than 12 teams as he has a 50-point upside.




This is a good move for the New York Rangers. Ultimately, Vincent Trochek’s price didn’t come in much higher than Ryan Strome's, but Trochek is a significant upgrade. He should do well playing alongside Artemi Panarin and he could push for 60 points. 




Ilya Samsonov is a player to keep an eye on. Toronto has started to play better defense in the last year or so and with Samsonov sharing time with the oft-injured Matt Murray, he could see a lot of starts for the Maple Leafs.




We will find out just how good Jack Campbell really is this season. I am skeptical that this move will work out well for him, as there were many nights last season where the Edmonton Oilers didn’t play much defense. Campbell has been a goalie who can be streaky, which could make him a liability for weeks on end and isn’t what you are looking for on your fantasy team.




To my surprise, Evander Kane looked good in Edmonton last year. Provided he isn’t forced back to San Jose due to a legal dispute (that is too complicated for me to explain), he should be primed for another solid season where 30-plus goals are certainly on the table. At least he's playing alongside two of the best players in the league with the Oilers.





Call me pessimistic but I don’t see how this deal works out well for the Maple Leafs since Matt Murray has made 50 starts just once in his career. While Toronto played a lot more defense last year, I’m not sure I would be willing to have Murray on my fantasy roster as anything more than my third goalie.




This is likely a lateral move for Cam Talbot. He will get the opportunity to earn the majority of starts with the Senators, but I’m not sure Ottawa will ultimately win any more games than the Wild would have. While Ottawa has gotten much better during this offseason, they still have some gaps in the back end.




Players just have a way of thriving in Carolina. The Hurricanes' front office does a great job of bringing in players that fit their system. I would look for 30-plus goals for Max Pacioretty playing in this system, provided he is able to stay healthy. Keep him on your radar as he is a player who could slide in fantasy drafts.




Brent Burns was able to put up 50-plus points on a Sharks team that had nowhere near the talent that the Hurricanes have. We have seen the big seasons from offensive defensemen in Carolina, first with Dougie Hamilton and then Tony DeAngelo. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if Burns was able to crack the 60-point mark this season.




I’m not certain what the thought was here for Philadelphia. Tony DeAngelo is an offensive upgrade for the powerplay over Ivan Provorov, but the Flyers paid a hefty price for a player whom their division rival (Rangers) couldn’t get off their roster fast enough just a year ago. I wouldn’t expect another 50 points from DeAngelo this season and if your league is using plus/minus, I would take him off your draft list today. He certainly won’t have a player the caliber of Jaccob Slavin to prop him up this year.




This could be another interesting move for the Red Wings. Ville Husso was among the best goalies in the league for a good part of last season. Now, he will get an opportunity to get the majority of the starts in Detroit on a team that could push for a playoff spot in a very competitive division.




Getting out of Chicago is likely a boon for Kirby Dach, as he will get an opportunity to grow along with the rest of Montreal’s young core. Dach has a lot of upside if he can fill out and he could be a useful player if he sees time on the Canadiens' top powerplay unit as well.




Players who have scored more than 40 goals in multiple seasons don't just grow on trees, and Alex DeBrincat is just that. He will need some time to adjust to life in Ottawa and, more specifically, not playing with Patrick Kane. Still, the Senators have plenty of talent right now so I expect this to be a soft landing for DeBrincat. Expect him to score closer to 30 goals this season than 40, though.



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