NHL Free Agency: 2012 Wrap up

zach-pariseWhile calling it a “frenzy” might be a bit inaccurate, the first two weeks of NHL Free Agency have been eventful. Here are a few thoughts about the signings and lack thereof.

1) The Minnesota Heat

The two biggest prizes of the free agent class both headed North in the hopes of revitalizing a hotbed of American hockey. On the 4th of July, both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter signed identical 13 year contracts with Minnesota Wild totalling $98 million (and a $7.5 million cap hit). The move instantly makes the hockey crazed state of Minnesota relevant again as both players are young difference makers and strong leaders in the locker room. The moves though do not make the Wild Cup favorites. Offensively, the Wild can put together a great top line of Parise-Mikko Koviu-Dany Heatley, but after that there are questions as the rest of the offense is full of youth and depth players. Suter will also anchor a very young defensive corp. So the Wild will eventually be good, but do not expect a Stanley Cup run next year.

The other interesting story here is how these deals got done and the parellels to the 2010 NBA off-season. Reportedly, Parise and Suter were in communication during the negotiations and work together to get deals done, à la Lebron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwayne Wade. It was reported other teams made stronger offers to each player, but both chose to go to the same spot, which happens to be Parise’s hometown. Much like Bosh and James going where James wanted to go, with friend Wade. It will be interesting to see whether this is an isolated situation or a new trend in the NHL.

2) What About Semin?

We are officially two weeks into the free agent period and arguably the most talented player avaliable is still without a home. Alex Semin, formerly of the Washington Capitals, is a former 40 goal scorer and is thought by many to have the talent to be a Top 5 player in the NHL. So why is he unsigned? Semin is reportedly seeking a multiyear deal and teams are unwilling to give the enigmatic Semin term. Despite improved 2 way play under Hunter, Semin has a reputation for being lazy, only playing when he wants to, taking bad penalties, and disappearing when the games matter the most. He was also famously ripped by the TSN Canada panel as a “coach killer” and “complete loser”. There is also the KHL question, where he reportedly has a $10 million per year offer.

So when and where does he go? Semin will land somewhere, but if he wants term it will be in the KHL or for a lower tier NHL franchise, like the Islanders or Blue Jackets (although the idea of Semin with Taveres could work). Look for Pittsburgh, who reportedly offered a deal, to be in the mix for a 1 year deal after missing out on Parise and the always offense starved Rangers to make a bid. And do not count out Detroit, where Datsyuk could provide an example and leadership for the Russian star.

3) Who Improved the Most?

The easy, and likely correct, answer here is the Minnesota Wild. But besides the Wild, the Colorado Avalanche had a nice yet not flashy FA haul. Their big signing was former Islander PA Parenteau, who will add upwards of 40 assists and 20 goals to the Avalanche attack. Some will argue they overpaid, but the Avs were in the playoff race early last season and were willing to pay to improve their staying power ths year. The Avs also added former Ranger depth forward John Mitchell, who played important minutes in the playoffs last year and can add some goals here and there. Mitchell is a very good under the radar signing for a team looking to make the playoffs. On the back-end, Colorado resigned young defenseman Erik Johnson and added veteran stay a home defender depth in Greg Zanon. Again, not flashy, but solid moves.

Other “A” signings included:

– Mikael Samuelsson back to Detroit: Maybe the steal of FA. If he’s healthy, he scores 20 easy.

– Joe Corvo back to Carolina: Corvo has always had success in his previous runs with the Canes and will now QB a powerplay with Staal, Staal, Skinner, and Cole. Not too bad.- –

-Jason Garrison to Vancouver: The Canucks continue to bolster their defense corp year after year and Garrison will work the powerplay point well with Edler. And kudos to Garrison taking less (although still a lot) of money to play in his hometown for a contender.

– Wojtek Wolski to DC: The shootout specialist has had 2 straight down years, but the Caps signed him for 1 year just north of the leage minimum. Even a 10 goal year and this is a steal with little risk.

4) “Knock, Knock, Anyone Home?”

With the Wild landing the 2 biggest names, there are a lot of teams usually near the top in terms of salary that are over $10 million under the cap, including the Red Wings, Penguins, Capitals, and Rangers. We know the Pens are low after being shut out of the Parise sweepstakes, but the others are surprising considering all had needs that could have been met. The Capitals need a Top 6 forward, and Wolski does not count yet (and with Green and Carlson as RFA, their salary will grow). The Rangers need an offensive boost as usual, and even the Wings need help on the backend after the retirement of Nick Lidstrom. This inaction coupled with cap space could mean some big in season trades for these perennial contenders.

5) What are the Stars doing?

When the Dallas Stars sent center Mike Riberio to the Capitals on draft day, it signaled to many that the Stars were beginning a rebuild. Less than a week later, they added the 2 oldest forwards on the market in Ray Whitney and Jaromir Jagr. Not quite the standard rebuild model. These deals would seem to say the Stars think they can compete this year, despite trading away their top playmaker in Riberio. Others have suggested the Jagr was a “name grab”, as attendance was low last season. Still, very curious moves in Big D.

NHL free agent preview and predictions of the 2012 off season

Zach PariseMuch has been made of the 2012 Free Agent class being a very thin group, but that will not stop teams from spending big money on July 1st. The overpayments have already begun, headlined by the insane $5.25 million per year given to Denis Wideman. One cannot talk player movement without mentioning the very cap friendly 12 year deal given to Sidney Crosby, who was still a year away from the open market. This sets the stage for a wild free agent frenzy. Here is a look at where some of the top free agents could land.

Elite Group

1. Zach Parise- Resigns with New Jersey Devils

Parise is the prize of this year’s free agent class. He will be the target of teams such as the Rangers, Kings, and his current team the Devils and he will get money and term. Parise is a gifted goal scorer, hard worker, and great leader. What everyone wants. When push comes to shove, look for him to stay put and finish what they started.

2. Ryan Suter- Signs with the Pittsburgh Penguins

While overshadowed by partner Shea Weber, Suter is one of the top defenseman in the NHL and looking to get paid and win. The Penguins cleared a lot of money over the weekend and will outbid the Red Wings. And the 12 year Crosby deal will only makes this deal more likely.

3. Alex Semin- Signs with the Detroit Red Wings

Semin is the enigma of the NHL. All the talent in the world, but he does not the work ethic to maximize the talent. The Wings seem to get the most out of players and Semin meshed well with Datsyuk at the World Championships.

No Surprises Here

1. Temmu Selanne- Resigns with the Anahiem Ducks

No shocker here. The Finnish Flash will either resign or hang em up. He can still score with the best of them and likely loves playing in the uptempo Boudreau offense.

2. Olli Joikien- Resigns with Calgary Flames

Joikien could get paid big this offseason as maybe the top center avaliable. But, the has often struggled outside of Calgary and always seems to come back to the Saddledome. He enjoyed a resurgence last year and will stay where he is comfortable.

3. Shane Doan- Resigns with the Phoenix Coyotes

This one will be interesting, as it was announced that Doan would test the market and possibly could leave the only organization he has ever known. Doan can still score and his experience and leadership is what every team needs and he will get offers. In the end though, the Captain stays put.

Welcome to the Penthouse

1. PA Parenteau- Signs with the New York Rangers

Parenteau is a crafty winger who would look good in  just about anyones top 6. And he put the numbers up on Long Island, which means he might do better on a better team. PA has 25-40 potential and will cash in on the thin market. And the Rangers will foot the bill to add some more offense to their impressive lineup. Watch also for the Blues and Senators who could use some offensive punch.

2. Jason Garrison- Signs with the Detroit Red Wings

The Wings will target Suter but settle for Garrison. Garrison exploded onto the scene last season with the Panthers, scoring 16 goals (3rd after Karlsson and Weber), 9 of which were on the power play (2nd to Weber). While he is nowhere near the defender Lidstrom is (and who is really) but he can help replace his point production as he comes into his own.

Goal Scoring Help in the Top six.

1. Ray Whitney- Signs with the Detroit Red Wings

Another Wing signing. Detroit has the cap space and will pick up another veteran looking for a home. The difference is Whitney can still play and is a power play wizard hungry for another Cup late in his career. The Blackhawks, Penguins, and Capitals could also be interested, as well as the Coyotes.

2. Dustin Penner- Resigns with the Los Angeles Kings

Penner had a rough start to his career and has never really lived up to his lofty expectations. But he seems to have found a home in LA and really stepped up in the playoffs.

3. Mikael Samuelson- Signs with the Washington Capitals

With Semin gone, the Capitals will need a new winger for newly acquired Riberio. Samuelson has had durability issues, but when healthy he can score and could thrive with a skilled center, whether its Riberio or Nick Backstrom. McPhee is a fan of short deals for FA if possible, and with the injury history Samuelsson provides the best opportunity for that with a good chance of top 6 production.

4. Jiri Hudler- Signs with the St Louis Blues

Hudler had an incredibly successful return to the NHL in Detroit with 25 goals and 25 assist last year. He is an excellent option for a team needing offense and the Blues fit that bill.

5. Andre Kostitsyn- Resigns with the Nashville Predators

The Kostitsyn’s have been more of a headache than a help over their career, but Andre is a 20 goal guy who will play better with his brother now in town (Sergei is restricted). As long as they stay out of the organized crime scene in Nashville, two Kostitsyn’s are always better than one on the ice.

6. Jaromir Jagr- Signs with the Edmonton Oilers

This one is a shot in the dark. Edmonton is poised to finally become relevant this year with an extremely talented core of Hall, Eberle, Nugent Hopkins, and the newly drafted Nail Yakpov. Jagr wants top 6 minutes and cannot be guaranteed that in Philly. Jagr could provide offense and an example for the young stars in Edmonton. Mike Knuble could be another excellent fit in Edmonton.

Blueline Help

1. Matt Carle- Resigns with the Philadelphia Flyers

The Flyers always look for help on the backline and Carle has been a steady balanced defenseman since his arrival from San Jose. The two sides have already started talking, so expect a deal to get done.

2. Bryan Allen- Signs with the Nashville Predators

Bryan Allen is one of the more underrated defenders in hockey. He does not provide a lot on offense, but is a solid defender. With the impending departure of Suter, the Predators will be quick to get a replacement. Allen will not provide the offense, but could be a good candidate to play with Weber.

3. Joe Corvo- Signs with the Florida Panthers

Arter losing Jason Garrison to a mega deal, the Panthers will need a shooter to replace him on the Power Play. Corvo is a defensive liability, but has one of the hardest shots in the league from the point. The Panthers success last year was dependent on the man advantage and Corvo will help offset the loss of Garrison a bit.

4. Sheldon Souray- Signs with the Washington Capitals

This one makes a lot of sense at the right price. Souray saw a rebirth last year as a viable defenseman in Dallas and is still a powerplay threat. The Capitals could use a replacement for Wideman, but this deal makes sense because of Dimitri Orlov. Souray was in Hershey when Orlov began his professional career and was vital to his early development. Reuniting them, in Orlov’s first year as a full time player, could really solidify the blueline in DC.

5. Bryce Salvador- Sign with the Anahiem Ducks

The Ducks are thin on the blueline and Salvador should cash in somewhat on his strong postseason. While not an offensive defenseman, he does have good offensive instincts, which is needed in Boudreau’s system. Rosival, Kuba, and Kubina are also options for the Ducks.


This Free Agent class is absurdly thin in goaltending. In fact, one can argue that with the top available being Dwayne Roloson, Dan Ellis, and Antero Nittymaki that there are little to no starter quality goalies on the market. As a result, most teams have addressed their needs through trades, with Tomas Vokoun, Andres Lindback, and Sergei Bobrovsky being moved in recent days. Look for the last big trade to be Roberto Luongo, who will end up in Florida or Toronto.

And news broke Friday morning that Martin Broudeur is going to go to free agency if no deal is in place by Sunday. Most did not even consider him available, yet the chances he leaves New Jersey is slim to none.


The thin class has made trading a bigger possibility this offseason than normal with the likes of Jordan Staal, Mike Riberio, and the goalies already being dealt. Look for Rick Nash, Luongo, and possibly Bobby Ryan to be dealt over the next week or so.

NHL offseason: CBA, coaching, free agency, Crosby and predictions

While the Kings continue to celebrate their organizations 1st Stanley Cup, the rest of the NHL is set to begin what is sure to be an interesting off season. As hockey enters the dog days of summer, here are some storylines to keep an eye on and stay tuned for updated storylines throughout the summer months:

1) The CBA

September 15, 2012. That is the deadline for the NHL to get a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) in place before the old agreement expires. For the lay fan, the CBA is a fancy way of saying the contract between the owners (NHL) and players (NHLPA). Historically, the NHL has not handled reaching these agreements very well. The 1995 renewal resulted in a shortened campaign and everyone is well aware of the cancelled 2004-2005 season. This time around, the NHL faces more uncertainty than in the past. The NHL has had issues with viewership as a result of the last lockout, but has been recovering over the last few seasons (despite the low ratings for the 2012 Finals). One has to question whether the league could bounce back from another lockout this year. And the issues are not easy this time around. In addition to needing to establish a new cap agreement, there are issues such as contract length, suspensions, and escrow agreements to consider. Look for the Olympics in Sochi to be a topic as well. The good news this time around though is that they do not need to discuss the need for a salary cap, which was the major stumbling block last time. The latest news is the NHLPA is trying to move the void date of the current agreement up to June 30 to help facilitate a quicker deal and avoid a lockout.

2) Coaching Search

The part of the offseason that interests fans the most are personnel moves, and the first moves to happen will be for the Edmonton Oilers and Washington Capitals to name their new head coaches. While there are only two openings and many available coaches, neither team is likely to compete with each other for their head man. The Oilers are looking for a teaching coach, one that can mold their talented young core into a competitive team, while the Capitals are in search of a coach who can take their talented roster to the next level. Some the names that will likely be flying around over the next few weeks are some old faces such as Brent Sutter and Marc Crawford while new names such as Assistant Coaches Adam Oates (NJ), John Stevens (LA), and Mike Sullivan (NYR) will likely get calls. Look also for Norfolk Admirals Head Coach Jon Cooper and Canadian Junior League Coach Patrick Roy to be popular interviews. If I had to guess, I would say the Oilers take a flyer of Cooper or Sullivan while the Capitals take Oates or Crawford (also, do not sleep on current Assistant Dean Evason in DC).

3) Free Agent Frenzy

Assuming a deal is signed, there is sure to be a fierce battle for the top names in a thin free agent class. The three prizes of the class are Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, and Alex Semin. Each will be seeking a long term deal for big money. Look for Parise to stay in Newark to finish what they started this season. And do not be surprised if Suter and Semin both end up in Detroit of they can make the numbers work. Suter is the logical replacement for Lidstrom and Semin had a good deal of chemistry with Datsyuk at the World Championships. If not Detroit, look for Semin to get offers from LA, the Rangers, and the KHL. The thin FA class also means an increase in trades is likely, so keep an eye on the ever evolving Rick Nash saga.

4) The Decision NHL Style in 2013?

While still a year away, four big name free agents are set to hit the market in 2014, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry from the Ducks and Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal from the Penguins. In the case of Crosby and Perry, look for the Ducks and Penguins respectively to lock up their stars this offseason as soon as the new deal is in place. That means 2 big name centers will likely be available next year in Getzlaf and Staal, which might affect how money is spent by teams this offseason. Rumor has it that Crosby is looking for 9 million and term in his new deal. I would suspect both will get a deal done, but if Crosby is unsigned by the All Star break, look for some teams to start unloading contracts to make room for the Kid. And if he hits the open market, look for a Lebron James like frenzy to woo the superstar from Pittsburgh. Although do not expect a cable special to announce his decision from the reserved Crosby.

5) Predictions, Predictions, Predictions

A favorite past time of experts, fans, and bloggers alike is to use the offseason to make bold predictions for the upcoming season. Here are a few:

1) Claude Giroux will lead the NHL in scoring for the 2012-2013 season. This might not seem too bold, but it would mean he out produces the likes of Ovechkin, Malkin, Crosby, Stamkos, and the Sedins. Look out for the crafty Giroux.

2) Alex Ovechkin returns to form and wins the goal scoring title– One has to assume that any interview for the Capitals job will center on getting the most out of the talents of the falling star. Trust McPhee to make a hire to bring that star back to life.

3) Tuukka Rask wins the Vezina– With Tim Thomas taking the year off; it is time for the much hyped Rask to shine. He has a great team in front of him and will make the Bruins forget about the suddenly troublesome Thomas.

4) The Edmonton Oilers win the Northwest Division– Armed with the likes of Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent Hopkins, and the most likely newly drafted Nail Yakapov, the Edmonton Oilers will finally return to the postseason as the 3rd seed in the West.

5) Down falls the hammer- In light of the carnage that was the 2012 NHL Postseason, look for supplemental discipline to be a big factor next season. In all likelihood, some formalization of suspension rules is likely. Formalization could be bad news for stars who have sometime been given light suspension, so look for a big name to be hit hard by Shanahan next season.

Matt Ragghianti is an NHL writer for The Sports Blitz Network and can be contacted at MRagghianti@TheSportsBlitz.com