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Signings of Parise, Suter should heat up FA market

Monday, 07.09.2012 / 12:43 AM / NHL Free Agency 2012

By John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

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Signings of Parise, Suter should heat up FA market
The two big names in this year's free-agent class have found new homes. But there are still plenty of possibilities left for the teams that didn't land Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.
The free-agent market largely was on hold for the first few days after the market opened while teams waited to see where Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, the two biggest names available this summer, would end up.

That decision was made on July 4, when the two opted to sign identical 13-year contracts with the Minnesota Wild -- making it an Independence Day that hockey fans never will forget. But there's still a whole summer in front of us, and the teams that didn't land Suter and Parise still are looking for help and have money to spend.

With the Parise/Suter signings done, here's a look at where the market is now:

FREE AGENCY 2012

Parise, Suter headed to Minnesota

By Dan Rosen and Corey Masisak
The Minnesota Wild landed the top two players in the free agent Class of 2012, agreeing to 13-year contracts with both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. READ MORE ›

Defensemen -- Just hours after Suter came off the market, he was followed by the next-best blueliner when Matt Carle, who had 38 points for the Flyers this past season, signed a six-year deal with Tampa Bay. The Alaska native spent the past four seasons in Philadelphia and reportedly enjoyed his time with the Flyers. But GM Paul Holmgren did not get him under contract before the Suter sweepstakes began, and the Lightning wasted little time swooping in after Suter opted to sign with the Wild.

It's a return to Tampa Bay for Carle, who started the 2007-08 season with the Lightning after being acquired in an offseason deal with San Jose -- only to be dealt to Philadelphia 12 games into the season.

With Suter and Carle off the market, teams looking for a puck-moving defenseman are left with riskier choices such as Carlo Colaiacovo, who had two goals and 19 points in 64 games with St. Louis last season, down from 26 points in 2010-11. He's 29 and has missed 50 games with injuries during the past three seasons, but could be a solid second-pair player if he stays healthy.

The best of the rest of the field includes some 30-plus stay-at-home veterans (Michal Rozsival and Scott Hannan), some 20-somethings still looking for a breakout year (Matt Gilroy) and third-pair guys (Steve Eminger, Kurtis Foster, Milan Jurcina).

Forwards -- With Parise gone, the best free-agent forward easily is Teemu Selanne -- but he comes with an asterisk. The future Hall of Famer hasn't decided if he'll play in 2012-13; if he does, it will be with the Anaheim Ducks.

Parise's departure opens the market for Alexander Semin and Shane Doan, among others. Semin, who has spent his career with the Washington Capitals, is coming off a disappointing 21-goal, 54-point season that is well below his capabilities. His talent ensures that he'll receive interest from teams that missed on Parise -- he's the only generally available forward capable of being a 40-goal scorer.

Doan, the longtime captain of the Phoenix Coyotes, has put off a decision while waiting to see what happens with a potential sale of the franchise. If the 35-year-old opts for a change of scenery, the line of teams for him to choose from will be long. The Coyotes are doing everything they can to persuade him to stay.

Beyond that, there are lots of veteran role players who can be valuable contributors if put into the right circumstances -- but not a lot who can make a difference.

Trade market -- Parise's signing should trigger some phone calls to Columbus general manager Scott Howson as the teams that didn't get Parise take another look at Jackets captain Rick Nash, who has asked to be traded. Howson has been looking for a big return if he trades the best player in franchise history, but has yet to be offered a package he finds acceptable and could keep his star player if he doesn't get what he wants.

Complicating the issue is the fact that Nash owns a no-trade clause that effectively lets him dictate where he'll wind up.

The New York Rangers, who reportedly are on Nash's list, made a push for Nash at the trade deadline but couldn't reach a deal with Columbus. Don't be surprised if they try again -- New York will be without 40-goal scorer Marian Gaborik for the first few weeks of the season as he recovers from shoulder surgery. The Rangers would not give up the young talent Howson wanted back in February; it remains to be seen whether a team that's desperate for offense will change its mind in order to land a seven-time 30-goal scorer.

Rick Nash
Rick Nash
Right Wing - CBJ
GOALS: 30 | ASST: 29 | PTS: 59
SOG: 306 | +/-: -19
Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and San Jose also are on the list of teams to which Nash will accept a trade, according to the Columbus Dispatch. There also have been hints he could expand the list to include Carolina. The ideal scenario for Howson is to create a bidding war among two or more of the teams on Nash's list to drive up the price.

Nash has six seasons remaining on his contract at a cap hit of $7.8 million per season, according to CapGeek.com.

The other player who could be highly sought-after in a trade is Anaheim forward Bobby Ryan, who has scored at least 30 goals in each of the past four seasons but appears to have had a falling out with the Ducks -- he said late last month that he'd like to be dealt. The 25-year-old -- the second player taken in the 2005 NHL Draft, behind only Sidney Crosby -- has the blend of size, strength and speed that coaches dream about and figures to be just entering his prime. He's also less costly than Nash ($5.1 million cap hit, according to CapGeek) and his contract runs out after the 2014-15 season.

Rumors have highlighted the Flyers as a possible trade partner, partly because Ryan grew up in the Philadelphia area. But the Ducks are likely to have plenty of other offers if they decide to deal Ryan. As with the Blue Jackets and Nash, Anaheim GM Bob Murray will not let Ryan go cheaply -- figure the price will include young talent, prospects and high draft picks.

Another big-name player who could be on the move is Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo. He reportedly asked for a trade after being benched the final three games of Vancouver's first-round series loss to the Los Angeles Kings, and went on a Vancouver radio station Friday and talked about his time with the team in the past tense.

"At the end of the day, I think it's time to move on. And I'm OK with that," Luongo said on the Jeff O'Neill Show on 99.3 The Fox in Vancouver. "I had a great six years in Vancouver. It's a really wonderful city. I really enjoyed my time there. Unfortunately, I was not able to bring a Stanley Cup there. Probably my biggest regret. But it'll be remembered for six great years."

Luongo has a no-trade clause, with the Chicago Blackhawks and Florida Panthers among his top choices.

Luongo said Florida "is definitely one of the spots I'd be willing to go to." With Chicago, he said, "I think there's a lot of cities that are great to play in, and Chicago's definitely one of them," he said. "But you have to realize that it works both ways. There's not only me involved in this decision. It's also a question if the Blackhawks would be interested, if the team would be interested in trading me there, and if I wanted to go there."
Quote of the Day

There's no discouragement in that room. There's no issues there at all to be honest with you. It's more about, 'Hey, it's opportunities for players.' And if we become that bad of a team because of one player, it's not a real good sign for our hockey club. So this is part of sports. It's part of hockey.

— Bruins coach Claude Julien on the loss of Zdeno Chara to injury
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