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Top UFAs staying put as deadline nears?

Tuesday, 01.31.2012 / 1:44 PM

By Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer / NHL.com Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog

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NHL.com Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog
Top UFAs staying put as deadline nears?
The NHL trade deadline is less than a month away, but with the All-Star Break now in the past, the media attention will shifts toward a day that has become something of a holiday for fans of the sport and the League.

It may still be 28 days away, but some big names are already garnering headlines – although it is because of they may not be available at the Feb. 27 deadline, which falls at 3 p.m. ET. Two of the biggest names in the unrestricted free agent class of 2012 – the list everyone looks to for potential trade targets – are New Jersey forward Zach Parise and Nashville defenseman Ryan Suter.

Both guys are star players – the type of addition that could drastically improve a team’s chances of claiming the Stanley Cup. Both might also not be available in the next four weeks.

Marc Everson of the New York Post reported Tuesday that sources from around the League do not expect Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello to trade Parise before the deadline.

“Sources say inquiring general managers are getting the word Devils GM Lou Lamoriello is not dealing unrestricted free agent-to-be Zach Parise before the NHL’s Feb. 27 trade deadline,” Everson wrote. “Instead, it is thought if the Devils do not want to re-sign Parise in June, they’ll trade his rights to a team that wants an advance shot at negotiations before he becomes free July 1.”

Parise would likely be the top forward available – either in the coming weeks or in July. He would be a cornerstone player for any franchise, and those players don’t become available often. He is making $6 million this season and would likely receive a substantial raise on the open market.

New Jersey is currently in eighth place in the Eastern Conference and the Devils’ chances of making the Stanley Cup Playoffs, let along advancing deep into the postseason, would take a huge hit if Parise went elsewhere. Keeping him beyond this season could be tricky because of the more than $38 million in salary cap space already committed to only 12 players for next season (and that doesn’t include a goaltender Martin Brodeur, who is also a UFA).

If Parise would likely be the top forward available then Suter would almost certainly be the No. 1 defenseman on the market. He forms the best defense duo in the League with Shea Weber and would be the no-doubt No. 1 defenseman on at least 20 other clubs.

Like Parise, Suter may also not be available. He told NHL.com on Sunday he wants to help Nashville try to make a run in Stanley Cup Playoffs.

“I want to focus on playing for Nashville,” Suter said. “We've got a good team and if we can add a couple of pieces here and there I think we have a legitimate chance of going to win the Stanley Cup.

"If we keep winning, we keep playing well, with the guys we have on the team and if we can add a couple of pieces, I think we can go far," Suter said. "It's (Poile's) call. It's his team and he can do what he wants with it, but I'd like to win this year."

Frank Seravelli of the Philadelphia Daily News reported Monday that League executives are thinking Suter will remain with the Predators in the coming weeks.

“The consensus among us is that Nashville will be hanging onto him, even if they know the odds are not in their favor of re-signing him,” one Eastern Conference general manager told Seravelli on condition of anonymity. “If he does decide to trade him, [Nashville general manager David] Poile has the market cornered. There are very few defensemen of Suter’s caliber in the League and Nashville has two of them.”


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