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NHL Free Agency 2012

Free-agent market this offseason has plenty to offer

Saturday, 06.30.2012 / 9:00 AM / NHL Free Agency 2012

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

The frenzy is about to begin, and this year it actually might live up to its name.

The NHL free-agent market is set to open at noon ET on July 1 and there are several big names who will be available unless they manage to strike an 11th-hour deal. The salary cap teams are working with this summer under the current collective bargaining agreement is $70.2 million. That CBA expires Sept. 15.

Headliners

New Jersey Devils captain Zach Parise and Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Suter top the list of players who appear ready to field offers Sunday, but a new high-profile name jumped into the mix Friday when it was revealed that Devils goalie Martin Brodeur has hired agent Pat Brisson to help him field offers if he makes it to unrestricted free agency.
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Brodeur would fit on these four teams

Friday, 06.29.2012 / 1:35 PM / NHL Free Agency 2012

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

With the news Friday that Martin Brodeur has hired Pat Brisson to be his agent, there is speculation the New Jersey Devils goaltender will test free agency starting July 1.

Brodeur has spent his entire 19-season NHL career with New Jersey, and previously has hinted he would like to finish his career with the Devils. However, the two sides have not come to terms on a new contract, and Brisson told The (Bergen) Record in an e-mail, "It looks like he might be testing free agency on Sunday if a deal isn't reached by Sunday with the Devils."

So where could the 40-year-old land should he leave the Devils as an unrestricted free agent? Here are some candidates:

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Free Agency preview: Northwest Division

Thursday, 06.28.2012 / 2:14 PM / NHL Free Agency 2012

Brian Hunter - NHL.com Staff Writer

The remainder of the Northwest Division has a lot of work to do in order to catch up with the Vancouver Canucks.

That was proven in 2011-12 when, for the second consecutive season, the Canucks were the only team out of the Northwest to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs -- and they didn't just get there, they dominated along the way, grabbing the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference as well as the Presidents' Trophy for the second year in a row. They finished 21 points clear of the second-place team in the division, the Calgary Flames.

But with free agency set to begin July 1, the Flames, Colorado Avalanche, Minnesota Wild and Edmonton Oilers have an opportunity to address some of their needs and add a few pieces that might help them close the gap -- if not catching the Canucks, at least jumping over the line that separates the top eight in the conference from the bottom seven at season's end.

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Top 10 Northwest Division free agents

Wednesday, 06.27.2012 / 5:52 PM / NHL Free Agency 2012

Brian Hunter - NHL.com Staff Writer

Among the items NHL general managers will be seeking when the market for free agents opens July 1 at 12 p.m. ET are goal-scoring prowess, veteran know-how, solid defensive forwards and reliable blueliners.

They'll find all of that is available by combing the rosters of the five Northwest Division teams.

While the UFAs coming out of the Northwest don't feature anywhere near as big a name as New Jersey forward Zach Parise or Nashville defenseman Ryan Suter, there will be some skilled playmakers, depth defensemen and bottom-six forwards seeking employment who can fill the needs of a team looking to add another piece to the puzzle.

Here are 10 notable players from Northwest teams who are set to test the free-agent waters come Sunday.

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Wideman signs five-year deal with Flames

Wednesday, 06.27.2012 / 3:14 PM / NHL Free Agency 2012

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

The Calgary Flames acquired the rights to defenseman Dennis Wideman from the Washington Capitals on Wednesday and signed him to a five-year contract worth $26.25 million.

The deal has an average annual value of $5.25 million.

The Flames gave up 26-year-old minor-league defenseman Jordan Henry and a fifth-round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft in exchange for the exclusive right to negotiate with and sign Wideman, who would have been an unrestricted free agent July 1.
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Top 10 Central Division free agents

Wednesday, 06.27.2012 / 1:23 PM / NHL Free Agency 2012

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The start of the free agency period is always an exciting time for the fans. But for general managers across the National Hockey League, it can make or break their careers.

The Central Division could see some major changes this summer, as several key players are about to test the market and ultimately learn if they will be staying put or changing their address.

With that in mind, NHL.com takes a look at the top 10 unrestricted free agents set to hit the open market on Sunday at noon Eastern time:

Ryan Suter, Nashville

Not only the best available defenseman in the division, but also the entire League. Just 27 years old, Suter and Predators captain Shea Weber form one of the top pairings in the NHL. But now, Nashville general manager David Poile needs to figure out if he can afford both. Weber, the team captain, is about to become a restricted free agent and is also due a hefty raise.

Suter, who could ultimately stay in Nashville but will test the market Sunday, put up 46 points during the regular season and led the club in ice time per game at 26 minutes and 30 seconds. Should Suter leave town, there's a chance he'll stay in the Central -- it is believed Detroit is one of the many teams that will be interested in his services.

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Top 10 Northeast Division free agents

Wednesday, 06.27.2012 / 10:36 AM / NHL Free Agency 2012

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

The start of free agency is not unlike Christmas morning. Fans will run downstairs July 1 while rubbing the sleep out of their eyes to see what toys Santa Claus -- or in this case, their team's general manager -- has bestowed upon them.

Zach Parise and Ryan Suter would be the luxury cars with the big red bows on them. Alexander Semin is the flashy jewelry that will take your breath away. Shane Doan can represent that complete tool set you've always craved.

But in the Northeast Division, there aren't any cars or diamonds or all-inclusive vacation packages among the top 10 free agents. Instead, the division has the little gifts you may not appreciate when you receive them, but will be extremely valuable as the year progresses.

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Free Agency preview: Northeast Division

Wednesday, 06.27.2012 / 9:45 AM / NHL Free Agency 2012

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

Only two teams reached the postseason from the Northeast Division last season, and neither of them won their first-round series. That leaves a lot of teams looking to re-tool in order to improve entering the 2012-13 season.

The Bruins won the division for the second straight year, but lost in seven games to the seventh-seeded Capitals. The Senators surprised everyone by claiming the eighth seed, but lost in seven games to the Rangers.

The Canadiens, Maple Leafs and Sabres all failed to make the postseason, leaving a lot of work for the GMs of those teams to do this summer.

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Free Agency preview: Pacific Division

Wednesday, 06.27.2012 / 9:00 AM / NHL Free Agency 2012

David Kalan - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Atlantic and Central divisions each sent four teams to the Stanley Cup Playoffs this spring, but it was hard to find a tighter race from top to bottom in the NHL than the one that came down to the wire in the Pacific Division.

The top three teams (Phoenix, San Jose, Los Angeles) were separated by two points, with all three cracking the top eight in the Western Conference. Fourth-place Dallas was in the hunt for a playoff berth and the division title until the final weeks of the season.

For an indication how close the Pacific is, look no further than the third-place Kings, who missed out on the division title but made amends by becoming the first eighth seed in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup -- doing so with one of the most dominant postseason runs in recent memory. In addition, the team that finished in last place, Anaheim, overcame an uncharacteristically poor first half to make an impressive push after the All-Star break.

Add the division champion Coyotes and the always-competitive Sharks, and the Pacific has no weak link, meaning personnel moves both minor and major that all five make this summer will have a significant impact on how tight the race will be -- and who will be in the best position to win it -- next season.

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Free Agency preview: Central Division

Wednesday, 06.27.2012 / 9:00 AM / NHL Free Agency 2012

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Four of the five teams in the Central Division recorded at least 100 points in 2011-12, as well as at least 45 victories. The Central also boasts the most coveted defenseman on the free agent market, with 27-year-old Ryan Suter set to receive a hefty raise after putting up 46 points and a plus-15 rating for the Nashville Predators this past season. Their division rivals, the Detroit Red Wings, are expected to be among many bidders for his services.

Though Nicklas Lidstrom has decided to hang up the blades after a Hall of Fame-caliber career in Detroit, the Central is expected to again feature fierce competition. And we won't have to wait until next season for things to intensify -- the five general managers will battle each other trying to shape their rosters when the free agent market opens.

Here is a cheat sheet for the Central Division teams as July 1 nears. The salary cap figures come from CapGeek and are based on the estimated $70.3 million salary cap NHL teams will be operating under:

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