NHL's top 20 free agents for 2023 offseason: Early list has big names, big questions

The NHL's 2023 free agency class has some big names and even bigger questions.

Three-time Stanley Cup winners Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are available, but Kane had hip-resurfacing surgery in June and Toews has had his own health issues.

Vladimir Tarasenko had a down season, Max Pacioretty was limited to five games by injury and John Klingberg didn't impress on his prove-it, one-year deal.

Last year's free agent class included 115-point scorer Jonathan Gaudreau, 87-point Stanley Cup winner Nazem Kadri and seven-time All-Star Claude Giroux (65 points). This year's top free agent scorer had 64 points.

NHL free agency opens July 1 at noon ET. Here's an early look at the top free agents for the 2023 offseason:

Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Alex Killorn set personal bests in goals and points this season.
Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Alex Killorn set personal bests in goals and points this season.

1. Forward Alex Killorn, Tampa Bay Lightning

He's the 64-point scorer. But more important, he won two Stanley Cups with the Lightning and also went to the Final two other times. Killorn's versatility and championship experience will be a draw if the Lightning can't fit him under the salary cap.

2. Defenseman Dmitry Orlov, Boston Bruins

Orlov is prized for his physical play, but he showed more of an offensive side after his trade from the Washington Capitals to the Bruins. He had 17 points in 23 games plus eight in seven games in the playoffs.

3. Forward Tyler Bertuzzi, Boston Bruins

He has three 20-goal seasons, including a 30-goal one, plus is a gritty player. He had a rough final season with Detroit, missing games on two occasions after blocking shots. But he took off after his trade to Boston and was impressive in the playoffs.

4. Forward Ryan O'Reilly, Toronto Maple Leafs

He's a former Selke Trophy winner and a former playoff MVP. He put up good numbers in Toronto after arriving in a trade.

5. Goaltender Adin Hill, Vegas Golden Knights

His championship playoff run couldn't have been better timed as he heads into free agency. The career backup played a career-best 27 games in the regular season, but he showed in the postseason he can handle being a starting goalie for long stretches.

6. Forward Ivan Barbashev, Golden Knights

He provides physical play (182 hits this regular season) and scoring. He was impressive in the playoffs in a top-six role.

7. Forward Vladimir Tarasenko, New York Rangers

He rebounded from two injury-filled seasons to score 34 goals in 2021-22. Last season, he dropped to 18. But teams will be intrigued by the production from his heyday.

8. Forward Patrick Kane, Rangers

The hip surgery will keep him out four to six months, so a team will have him in the lineup at some point in the season. How effective will he be, though? If he's vintage Kane, that's a good risk to take.

9. Forward Jason Zucker, Pittsburgh Penguins

He bounced back from two down seasons to score 27 goals. He's had five 20-goal seasons and one 30-goal season. He was a good fit on Evgeni Malkin's line.

10. Forward Michael Bunting, Maple Leafs

The top-six forward averaged 23 goals and 56 points in his two seasons in Toronto. He was suspended three games for a hit in the playoffs.

11. Goalie Frederik Andersen, Carolina Hurricanes

Andersen has won the Williams Jennings Trophy (lowest team goals-against average) twice in his career. He has five 30-win seasons but also has his share of injuries.

12. Forward J.T. Compher, Colorado Avalanche

He scored a career-best 52 points while filling the No. 2 center role in the absence of Kadri. He wasn't a factor in the playoffs.

13. Forward Max Pacioretty, Hurricanes

He recovered from a torn Achilles tendon, only to tear it again five games later. He's a 30-goal scorer when healthy.

14. Forward Max Domi, Dallas Stars

He had a strong season on the stripped-down Chicago Blackhawks and a good playoff run with the Stars (13 points in 19 games). The gritty forechecker should be able to turn that into more than last year's one-year, $3 million contract. His defense is an issue.

15. Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, Hurricanes

His 13 goals rank first among free agent defensemen and his 41 points rank second.

16. Defenseman Luke Schenn, Maple Leafs

He led the league with 318 hits and tied his career high with 22 points.

17. Defenseman Radko Gudas, Florida Panthers

He was right behind Schenn with 312 hits and plays a solid defensive game. "He makes the highlight films because he’s such a physical guy, but the quality of his play is very, very high," coach Paul Maurice said.

18. Goaltender Tristan Jarry, Penguins

He's a two-time All-Star and has a career .914 save percentage, but his injury issues could give teams pause.

19. Forward Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks

The Blackhawks said they're moving on from their longtime captain, who has missed time with chronic immune response syndrome and long COVID. Toews said his health is the biggest factor deciding whether he returns for another season.

20. Forward Evan Rodrigues, Avalanche

He provides secondary scoring and can move up a line if needed, as he did with Pittsburgh two seasons ago when he filled in for injured Malkin.

Notes: Boston's Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci would be high on this list, but they're expected to either re-sign with the Bruins or retire. ... Klingberg's 10 goals were second among free agent defensemen, but he's a combined -53 the past two seasons.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NHL free agents 2023: Early top 20 ranking for this offseason