There was a strong argument to be made that before Friday, the top two potential talents in the unrestricted free agent Class of 2013 were members of the Anaheim Ducks.
Now it is just the top potential UFA in July who plies his trade for the Ducks after center Ryan Getzlaf agreed to an eight-year, $66 million contract Friday, and the future of his friend and linemate Corey Perry becomes one of the most interesting storylines in the NHL.
To be clear, the Ducks are one of the great stories of the 2012-13 season, as coach Bruce Boudreau has Anaheim in first place in the Pacific Division and second only to the juggernaut Chicago Blackhawks in the NHL standings. The chances of anything happening with any pending UFA on the Ducks, let alone a franchise-type player like Perry, are extremely remote because Anaheim clearly is a Stanley Cup contender until proven otherwise.
Still, there will be plenty of attention focused on Perry, and any discussions about a contract extension for the 2011 Hart Trophy winner and speculation about a new destination for him won't completely subside until he signs a new deal or does find a new home.
Both Getzlaf and Perry signed nearly identical five-year, $26.625 million extensions in November 2007 and July 2008, respectively. During the duration of their deals, both players have provided extraordinary value, but most talent evaluators probably would put Perry a tick ahead of Getzlaf, especially after Getzlaf's disappointing 2011-12 season.
Let's be clear -- Perry almost certainly can get more than $8.25 million per season on the open market. Zach Parise and Ryan Suter have the largest cap hits of any players who signed with new teams as free agents at $7.538 million each, but both of those deals were 13 years long and that reduced the annual average value of the contracts.
Perry can sign for seven years with a new team per the parameters of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Would he be willing to take less and stay with Anaheim, similar to what Evgeni Malkin did in Pittsburgh after Sidney Crosby inked his original deal worth $8.7 million per season?
If Perry and the Ducks can't come to terms, would general manager Bob Murray consider trading his prized player, even with the team having such a great season? Bobby Ryan, the third member of Anaheim's former "Big Three" (they don't play together very often any more) has been the subject of trade rumors in the past and also voiced his displeasure about it.
Ryan is signed for two more seasons with a cap hit of $5.1 million. If the Ducks commit mega-dollars to Perry, will there be enough left in the budget for a new deal for Ryan?
The short-term concern in a big contract for Perry might not be much of an issue for the Ducks. According to capgeek.com, Anaheim still has about $20 million in projected cap space for next season (with the cap at $64.3 million). The team's trio of aging Finns -- Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu and Toni Lydman -- all could retire or all could return.
If they all want to come back and Anaheim wants them back -- and a new deal for Perry -- the question will be about how close to the cap will Murray be allowed to go to retain them all. Should the salary cap return to its typical annual increase after the 2013-14 season, the Ducks then can make room to give Ryan a raise, as well. It is also worth pointing out that Ryan, not Perry, likely has the most trade value before the deadline because he is both cheaper and under control for two more years.
Some of the team's key young prospects, like Emerson Etem, Hampus Lindholm and Nick Bonino, would be counted on to develop into cheap, reliable replacements for players like Selanne, Koivu and Lydman, but it still can work in Anaheim for Getzlaf, Perry and Ryan.
Should Murray decide to allocate financial resources elsewhere, expect speculation about trades involving Perry or Ryan to be frequent -- whether it is during the rest of this season or into the next one.
Follow Corey Masisak on Twitter @cmasisak22
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