Blue Jackets TV voice Jeff Rimer is one of the league's most "plugged-in" guys, and he has a pulse on what's cooking around the NHL as free agency opens today.
Rimer dropped by to update us on what he's hearing around the league, and what fans can expect on the Blue Jackets' front (as well as other big names in free agency) as the frenzy continues...
RIMER'S UPDATE: As far as the Blue Jackets are concerned, I expect them to look for ways to improve their depth at the forward position. They're not going to be in the hunt for Zach Parise, and I don't necessarily think that Parise will sign first, regardless. I think, more realistically, the Blue Jackets will make a move for a forward that can help complement the top two lines and possibly in the bottom six. I also believe they will add a goaltender to the mix, as well.
I think what you will see are one or two players signing early on. Unlike previous years, I don't expect that the premier free agents like Parise and Ryan Suter will go right away off the opening bell, and possibly, those guys might not even sign until later in the week. I think they're both going to sit back and analyze the possibilities. I was told this morning that Parise is looking for "up front" money in his new contract -- around $12 million in the first year, and it's going to be a long-term contract.
I understand the Minnesota Wild (his home state) is going to make a very substantial offer. The betting is that teams like Detroit and Pittsburgh will be the frontrunners for Parise, and potentially the New York Rangers kicking tires when the afternoon comes around.
Re: Suter, I believe the frontrunner for him (based on what I've heard) is the Detroit Red Wings. I don't expect either he or Parise to sign today, and I'd be surprised if they did.
As far as a "darkhorse" pick-up, I think Dustin Penner proved in the Stanley Cup playoffs that he can play at a high level. I think you'll find teams interested in signing him, but certainly not for the dollars he earned on his last contract.”