The free agent marketplace will open shortly.
Potential unrestricted free agents Zach Parise, Ryan Suter and Martin Brodeur are the headliners, along with Blue Jackets winger Rick Nash – a widely coveted power forward that could finally move on.
Suter is open to returning to Nashville, but he’ll need to get paid. He scored a career-best 46 points (seven goals, 39 assists) during the walk year of his contract and he knows the supply of All-Star defensemen in the market does not meet the demand for this commodity. The Dennis Wideman contract in Calgary spoke to this fact.
Similarly, Parise is open to returning to New Jersey. But as the top impact scorer in the market, he knows that teams are ready to commit staggering sums for his services. The Devils made one last push to sign him before the market opened.
But Parise's demands for a heavily front-loaded contract could be a deal-breaker for the Devils.
Brodeur has been a Devils fixture in goal, but he is at least curious about what other contenders teams might pay him for a short-term deal. If New Jersey’s financial problems lead to a payroll cutback, Brodeur could move along.
Among the other UFAs, power forward Shane Doan (headed for Dallas or Pittsburgh?), center Olli Jokinen (Islanders or Canadiens?), winger P.A. Parenteau, defenseman Matt Carle (great fit for the Blues) and scoring winger Alexander Semin (Blackhawks or Red Wings?) are creating a buzz.
Doan has settled happily in the Valley of the Sun, so he is in no rush to leave. It sounds like he will give the Coyotes every chance to keep him. But he needs convincing that the franchise is staying put.
The lack of depth in this market could allow reliable veteran Ray Whitney and comeback case Steve Sullivan to get paid as well. Defenseman Bryce Salvador could cash in after a strong postseason showing.
Among the trade targets, goaltender Roberto Luongo, power forward Bobby Ryan, offensive defenseman Keith Yandle and goaltender Jonathan Bernier are the subject of much scuttlebutt.
Restricted free agents rarely draw hostile offer sheets, but Blues fans are still sweating out the T.J. Oshie and David Perron scenarios. The Blues also want to keep UFA Jamie Langenbrunner, but he might be willing to take the dollars elsewhere.
Here is what we already know:
- The Oilers got a head start Saturday, agreeing to terms with free agent defenseman Justin Schultz. Edmonton has already had the NHL’s best offseason, adding two elite offensive talents -- Nail Yakupov and Schultz – without subtracting anything.
- Nashville needs to marshal all its resources while trying to secure restricted free agent Shea Weber and UFA Suter for the long haul. So it was a bid odd to see the Predators commit $13 million over four years to No. 3 center Paul Gaustad, a rangy faceoff specialist with limited offensive potential.
- Goaltender Jonas "The Monster" Gustavsson opted not to sign with Winnipeg. Are the Red Wings interested in singing him as Jimmy Howard's back-up? Or are his best options in Europe?