Wild Musings 6-29-2012 Free Agency is Upon Us...Almost
In just a day’s time, the questions about Zach Parise and Ryan Suter will finally at least have the opportunity to be answered. Free Agency officially begins on Sunday July 1st, and the dreams of fan bases around the league can either start rejoicing or start crying. Parise and Suter are unquestionably the best players available, but there are a number of other players available that could help out any number of teams, and the number of UFA’s available seems to be growing as we get closer to the deadline. Sunday, and the week that follows, should be very fun.
Zach Parise is going to be in high demand. The places I could see him signing are New Jersey, Minnesota, Detroit, Pittsburgh or Los Angeles. These teams have the cap space, young talent, and a number of exterior factors that could entice Parise to join their ranks. I am very curious to see how this all plays out for Parise not just in terms of destination (not counting for the fact that I am, of course, a Wild fan), but also in terms of salary. Sidney Crosby just got a big contract that gives him an 8.7 million dollar cap hit moving forward (8.7 for #87- get it?!). Will the Penguins, or anyone else for that matter, really offer Parise more than Crosby? Somebody may, especially teams like the Red Wings or the Wild that have lots of cap space and are looking to hit homeruns in free agency. This is going to play out a lot like Brad Richard’s free agency last season, and kind of like Justin Schultz “free agency” has been the past few days. Parise will be with his agents in Toronto fielding offers and presentations. The various reports and tweets that I’ve read have said Zach is going to take his time with this, so we may not see this end until Monday or Tuesday.
From what I’ve read, Ryan Suter will not be signing somewhere tomorrow, and won’t even field offers until Monday. He has to be happy that Justin Schultz just signed with Edmonton, and Calgary acquired and signed Denis Wideman, thinning the market for defensemen considerably. Wideman was a lot of team’s backup plan if they missed out on Suter (Jason Garrison and Matt Carle just smiled the kind of smile you get when you are about to make a lot of money…) and his signing has definitely upped the ante for some teams in the Suter sweepstakes. I see Suter landing in Detroit, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, or back in Nashville. These teams have the cap room to sign him, and can offer him the opportunity to be “the” guy on their blue line, with perhaps the exception of Nashville. Like Parise, Suter has been very coy about his intentions for free agency, and it doesn’t surprise me a ton if he returns not Nashville.
The rest of the free agent class drops off after Suter and Parise, but there are definitely some pieces that can help teams both offensively and defensively. The aforementioned Jason Garrison and Matt Carle will get offers after Suter signs. I think there is a real good chance Carle resigns with the Flyers, but I can’t see him doing it until after Suter signs. Martin Broduer has decided to test the free agent market, should the Devils not resign him before July 1st, which could be a great opportunity for a team like Chicago or Washington to apply a short term fix to their goalie questions (and could contribute to doomsday for the New Jersey faithful). In terms of offense, guys like Alexander Semin, P.A. Parenteau, Shane Doan, Dustin Penner, and Guillaume Latendresse will be available. There have always been questions about Semin’s effort and work ethic, but he could be an upgrade on the wing for a number of teams. Parenteau has been a good piece for the Islanders, and should garner some attention from teams looking to add forward depth, provided he doesn’t end up staying on Long Island. I find it hard to believe that Shane Doan is really going to leave Phoenix, but with the ownership issues and the constant state of flux for the Coyotes, Doan may look to latch on to a Chicago, a Detroit, or another contender in order to get that elusive Stanley Cup before he hangs it up. Dustin Penner has expressed his desire to return to the Los Angeles Kings, but that may not be in the cards unless he is willing to play for less money. If he isn’t he will be a good pick up for someone looking to add some scoring depth. Guillaume Latendresse is leaving Minnesota to get closer to his family in Montreal. This guy really found his game in Minnesota, and can be a big difference maker for a team, provided he can stay healthy. All of these players could have a huge impact on the right team.
My 10 Predictions (because predictions are fun to read and…. You know… what the hell! J)
1. Zach Parise- Minnesota Wild
2. Ryan Suter- Detroit Red Wings
3. Jason Garrison- Pittsburgh Penguins
4. Matt Carle- Philladlphia Flyers
5. Alexander Semin- Detroit Red Wings
6. Dustin Penner- Los Angeles Kings
7. Shane Doan- Chicago Blackhawks
8. P.A. Parenteau- New York Islanders
9. Guillaume Latendresse- Pittsburgh Penguins
10. Martin Brodeur- New Jersey Devils
Free agency is always a very exciting time in the NHL. This year will be no different. We have some players that could help to turn some teams looking for that guiding piece into contenders, and some players that could bolster a strong team and put them over the edge. Sunday should be exciting, so stay tuned.
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