NHL 22 Franchise Mode: Best Free Agents to Sign

Want to upgrade your Franchise Mode team’s lines without moving any assets? These are the best free agents to sign in NHL 22.

The next NHL season isn’t set to take place until next January, at the earliest, leaving several players without a contract and in a kind of limbo.

For Franchise Mode players on NHL 22, this means that the market has several top free agents to sign, from highly-rated veterans to younger players with high ceilings.

Using the first roster update following the launch of the game (October 16 Online Roster), we’ve compiled all of the highest-rated and highest potential free agents found on the first day of a new Franchise Mode on NHL 22.

How to sign free agents in Franchise Mode

To find where to sign free agents in NHL 22’s Franchise Mode, from the Hub screen, navigate to the Team Management screen (to the right) and then the Manage Contracts column.

There, you’ll see the option of ‘Free Agents,’ which shows all of the RFA and UFA players available.

To sign the true free agents, listed as UFAs, you just have to press X/A on the player that you want and then select the option to offer them a contract. From the next screen, you can adjust the terms of the contract offer.

After making an offer to a free agent in NHL 22, you’ll get a response as to whether or not your offer has been accepted or declined in the next few days.

Tuukka Rask, Elite Goalie

Overall: 90
Age: 34
Position (Type): Goaltender (Hybrid)
Initial Contract Demands: $3.45 million, 1 Year, 1-Way

Right at the top of the list of the best free agents to sign in Franchise Mode is one of NHL 22’s best goaltenders, Tuukka Rask. With a 90 overall rating, any team in need of a goalie to transform them into Stanley Cup challengers should compete for the Finn.

Rask being 34-years-old isn’t a major problem as he’s a netminder, but to reassure you, he comes in with 88 durability, 90 endurance, and 90 speed, on top of 89 to 91 ratings for all reflexes attributes. However, to land the X-Factor goaltender, you’ll need to come in with more than $3.45 million on a one-year deal.

For the first time since 2007/08, Tuukka Rask won’t commence the season on the Boston Bruins’ books. He allowed his contract to expire, is still recovering from hip surgery, and has reportedly said that he’d rather retire than move to somewhere else to play for another NHL team.

Eric Staal, 3rd Scoring Line Forward

Overall: 82
Age: 36
Position (Type): Center (Two-Way)
Initial Contract Demands: $1.025 million, 1 Year, 1-Way

He may be 36-years-old, but Eric Staal is an excellent pick to plug a gap in your bottom-six, either in a defensive set or as the pivot to a line of younger wingers. His 82 overall won’t last for more than one season, so just one year for $1.025 million suits both parties well.

As a top free agent in NHL 22, it’s Staal’s defensive attributes that shine, with his 87 stick checking, 85 body checking, 87 strength, 85 poise, and 85 passing all being very serviceable down the forward lines. Furthermore, the center has decent enough quickness, with 85 acceleration, 84 agility, and 85 speed.

After spending last season with the Buffalo Sabres and Montréal Canadiens, playing a total of 53 games for 13 points, Staal remained a free agent at the opening of this campaign, but doesn’t intend to retire, per reports.

Sami Vatanen, Top 4 Defenseman

Overall: 82
Age: 30
Position (Type): Defenseman (Offensive)
Initial Contract Demands: $2.3 million, 1 Year, 1-Way

A solid top-six skater to add to your lines, $2.3 million for an 82-rated right-shot defenseman is a rather good deal. While he’s listed as an offensive defenseman, the Jyväskylä-native’s 86 defensive awareness, 86 shot blocking, 85 body checking, and 87 stick checking make him solid without the puck as well.

Most importantly, Vatanen boasts 88 acceleration, 88 agility, 91 endurance, and 88 speed, so he can regularly push the offence forward when there’s an opening up the ice. While his 87 passing and 87 puck control lend him as an offensive threat, his lacking shooting accuracy ratings limit his potency in the offensive zone.

Having made a name for himself as a reliable, but increasingly injured, blueliner with the Anaheim Ducks, New Jersey Devils, and Dallas Stars, Vatanen has since moved back to Europe. He commenced the 2021/22 campaign in Switzerland’s National League, scoring ten points in his first seven games for Genève-Servette HC.

Zdeno Chára, Top 4 Defenseman

Overall: 82
Age: 44
Position (Type): Defenseman (Defensive)
Initial Contract Demands: $2.175 million, 1 Year, 1-Way

Still rated at 82 overall and demanding relatively low wages, Zdeno Chára is still a viable option for your defensive lines in NHL 22’s Franchise Mode. He might not be the most mobile, but the Slovakian’s colossal frame still makes him a real force in the game, and one of the best free agents to sign.

Standing 206cm and 113kg, you can easily make use of Chára’s 88 shot blacking, 90 stick checking, 92 body checking, 94 strength, and 90 fighting skill. As long as you pick the easy passes and give him plenty of space to utilise the mighty 90 slap shot power, you’ll find the defenseman to be a solid addition.

After becoming a legend in Beantown, Chara went to play for the Washington Capitals last season, proving that he can still compete in the NHL by playing 55 games and holding a +5 plus-minus. Just as this season commenced, he signed with the team that drafted him, the New York Islanders.

Michael Dal Colle, Depth Forward

Overall: 78
Age: 25
Position (Type): Left Wing (Sniper)
Initial Contract Demands: $0.750 million, 1 Year, 2-Way

Michael Dal Colle has been an underrated gem in the NHL game series for a few years, alongside his former New York Islanders teammate below. At 25-years-old and with Top 9 low potential, you can draw a good amount of value from this low-demands free agent in Franchise Mode.

If you sign the 78-overall sniper and play him in your top three lines, you’ll see his overall creep up and you can utilise his 87 speed, 87 acceleration, 85 strength, 88 slap shot power, and 84 wrist shot accuracy. Better still, you can give him a three-year deal for just $0.900 million – giving him even more trade value if you play him.

Drafted fifth overall in 2014, Dal Colle didn’t manage to put up the numbers expected of him in the NHL. Over the last six seasons, he’s played between the NHL and AHL, getting four points in 26 games for the Islanders last season. This season, he’s started in the AHL with the Bridgeport Islanders.

Josh Ho-Sang, Depth Forward

Overall: 78
Age: 25
Position (Type): Right Wing / Center (Playmaker)
Initial Contract Demands: $0.750 million, 1 Year, 2-Way

To an even greater extent than Dal Colle above, fellow former Islander Josh Ho-Sang is a great free agent to sign in NHL 22. He has a superior potential of Top 6 med and has several more favourable ratings. The 78-overall winger’s best attributes are his 88 acceleration, 88 speed, 87 deking, and 85 wrist shot accuracy.

Also like Dal Colle, you can offer Ho-Sang three years for $0.900 million, which will further enhance his trade value even within the first season. If you play him on one of your top-three lines, which he can certainly handle, his overall rating will grow, and other teams will come in with strong trade offers.

The former 28th overall selection of the 2014 draft went to the SHL last season. He played a few times for Örebro HK and Linköping HC, but has signed for the Toronto Marlies of the AHL for 2021/22, having departed the New York Islanders organisation.

Julius Honka, Depth Defenseman

Overall: 77
Age: 25
Position (Type): Defenseman (Two-Way)
Initial Contract Demands: $0.750 million, 1 Year, 2-Way

Still only 25-years-old and with Top 4 med potential, Julius Honka can prove to be a strong value add if you’re willing to give him ice time in your top two defensive sets. The right-shot, right defenseman is a bit lacking in some key areas from the get-go, but his quickness makes up for this a bit.

Honka’s 89 acceleration, 89 agility, and 88 speed make him a sound choice, even against top-six wingers. While not one for physical plays, the Finnish defenseman does have 88 deking, 85 passing, 84 stick checking, and 84 shot blocking to make him quite user-friendly in NHL 22.

In the 2017/18 campaign, Honka looked to have broken into the Dallas Stars lines, playing 42 games in the NHL. However, over the ensuing seasons, the former 14th overall pick of the 2014 draft struggled to get a run at the American Airlines Center. Now, he’s in the SHL with Luleå HF, with six points in his first ten games.

All of the best free agents to sign in NHL 22 Franchise Mode

Below, you’ll find all of the top free agents to sign in Franchise Mode on NHL 22, sorted by their overall ratings, with those who have lower overall ratings being included for their high potential.

Free Agent Overall Potential Age Position Type
Tuukka Rask 90 Elite exact 34 Goaltender Hybrid
Bobby Ryan 82 Top 6 exact 34 RW / LW Sniper
Eric Staal 82 Top 6 exact 36 Center Two-Way Forward
Sami Vatanen 82 Top 4 exact 30 LD / RD Offensive Defenseman
Erik Gustafsson 82 Top 4 exact 29 LD / RD Offensive Defenseman
Zdeno Chára 82 Top 4 exact 44 Left Defenseman Defensive Defenseman
Jason Demers 81 Top 4 exact 33 Right Defenseman Defensive Defenseman
Nikita Gusev 81 Top 6 exact 29 Left Wing Playmaker
Travis Zajac 80 Top 9 exact 36 Center Two-Way Forward
Dominik Kahun 80 Top 9 med 26 LW / RW Playmaker
Michael Grabner 80 Top 9 exact 33 RW / LW Sniper
Patrick Marleau 80 Top 9 exact 42 LW / C Two-Way Forward
Brandon Pirri 79 Top 9 exact 30 LW / RW Sniper
Brian Boyle 79 Top 9 exact 36 C / LW Power Forward
Alex Galchenyuk 79 Top 9 exact 27 C / LW Playmaker
Michael Dal Colle 78 Top 9 low 25 Left Wing Sniper
Josh Ho-Sang 78 Top 6 med 25 RW / C Playmaker
James Neal 78 Top 9 exact 34 RW / LW Power Forward
Dmytro Timashov 78 Top 6 med 24 LW / RW Playmaker
Julius Honka 77 Top 4 med 25 Right Defenseman Two-Way Defenseman
Veini Vehviläinen 76 Starter high 24 Goaltender Hybrid

If you need to bolster your lines with a decent skater or want to add a high-potential younger skater to your roster, sign one of the best NHL 22 free agents listed above.

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