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NHL - US Sports: Best remaining free agents

NHL free agency opens on 13th July and even after Pittsburgh Penguins took Kris Letang and Nashville Predators Filip Forsberg off the market in recent days, there are still some huge names available.

We take a look at the top five names that may be attracting attention in the coming days and weeks.

Johnny Gaudreau (Calgary Flames)

While the Calgary Flames say they are optimistic about being able to extend Gaudreau's eight year stay with the franchise, the longer his signature remains off their huge contract offer, the more questions are being asked.

28-year-old Gaudreau led the Flames with 115 points (40 goals, 75 assists) last season which also ranked second in the league. In the playoffs, his red-hot form continued, registering 14 points (three goals, 11 assists) in 12 games.

Since the Flames were eliminated by the Edmonton Oilers at the second-round stage, Gaudreau is reported to have been sitting on a contract offer in the eight-year, $9.5-million-per-year range whilst pondering his future.

Born just outside of Philadelphia, the Flyers are said to be heavily in the mix for the talented forward whose homecoming would be a huge coup and the biggest free-agency signing of the off-season.

Nazem Kadri (Colorado Avalanche)

Stanley Cup Champions Colorado Avalanche may be forced to say goodbye to one of their playoff heroes this off-season as it appears impossible for them to fit forward Kadri's contract demands within their salary cap.

31-year-old Kadri enjoyed a career-season, scoring 87 points (28 goals, 59 assists) in 71 games before adding 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in the championship playoff winning run.

After returning from a thumb injury, Kadri scored the overtime winner in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The goal put the Avalanche 3-1 up in the best-of-seven series and was a pivotal moment in them winning their first championship for over 20 years.

Kadri will demand far higher than his previous $4.5m average annual salary, and while a return to the Avalanche hasn't been totally ruled out, it's far more likely that Kadri will move on following three seasons with the franchise.

Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh Penguins)

It may be the end of an era at the Pittsburgh Penguins as three-time Stanley Cup Champion Evgeni Malkin reviews his next contract options.

Now 35-years-old, Malkin has spent his entire 16-season NHL career with the Penguins. But, having been plagued by injury over the past two seasons, his stock has fallen with Pittsburgh reportedly playing hard ball on their contract offer.

The Russian has just come to the end of an eight-year deal which saw him make $9.5-million per year

Despite returning from injury to score 42 points (20 goals, 22 assists), Pittsburgh have reportedly offered a far lower salary leaving Malkin questioning his worth to the organisation that he has given so much to.

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Darcy Kuemper (Colorado Avalanche)

Kuemper lead the Avalanche to the Stanley Cup in his first season with the team but in a battle with the salary cap, General Manager Joe Sakic has been forced to seek a less expensive option between the pipes.

Alexandar Georgiev has been acquired from the New York Rangers with a $3.4 million cap hit, ending Kuemper's short stay with the franchise.

32-year-old Kuemper earned $4.5 million last season, and the champion goalie will expect a significant rise on a long-term deal, something the Avalanche can't afford to offer.

In 57 regular season games, Kuemper went 37-12-4 with a .921 save-percentage and 2.54 goals-against-average (GAA). He made 16 starts in the playoffs winning ten with a .902 save-percentage and 2.57 GAA.

Several teams are in desperate need of a goalie including the Toronto Maple Leafs who look set to allow Jack Campbell to explore free agency and the Edmonton Oilers.

The Washington Capitals are also thought to be extremely interested in Kumper after they traded Vitek Vanecek to the New Jersey Devils.

Evander Kane (Edmonton Oilers)

Signed mid-way through last season after a fallout with the San Jose Sharks, General Manager Ken Holland admitted that Kane is not close to signing a new contract with the Oilers.

After having his contract bought out by the Sharks, the Oilers took a chance on controversial Kane in January and he quickly proved his ability to still be one of the most effective forwards in the NHL.

In 43 regular season games, Kane amassed 39 points (22 goals, 17 assists) before he helped the Oilers reach the Western Conference Final by scoring a joint-best 13 goals in the playoffs. He also had four assists for 17 points in 15 games.

It may be some time before Kane's destination is known as his ongoing grievance with the Sharks continues past the opening of free agency, but many teams are expected to be interested after his impactful showing last season.

Other notable free agents include Claude Giroux (Florida Panthers), John Klingberg (Dallas Stars), Ondrej Palat (Tampa Pay Lightning), P.K. Subban (New Jersey Devils) and Phil Kessel (Arizona Coyotes).

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