The 2012-13 NHL free agent class is pretty thin on elite talent. Guys like Teemu Selanne, Jaromir Jagr, and Martin Brodeur will all be faced with that question, and these future Hall of Famers
can make a big difference whether they choose to return or whether they choose
As for the rest of this year’s crop, it looks like some
players will be getting overpaid. Per usual, teams with cash that need help
will be spending but they might be better off waiting it out unless they get
one of the top two guys.
Parise is the only real elite forward available. While
Lou Lamoriello and the New Jersey Devils would love to re-sign him, the reality
is that because talent is so scarce, somebody is likely to overpay Parise and
price him out of the frugal Devils' market.
Many suitors will be lining up with Carolina, Toronto,
Dallas, and San Jose already being rumored. My guess is that he jumps across the
river to sign with the New York Rangers. They love to spend money, they have a
big need for his talent and what better way to strengthen your team than to
weaken a divisional opponent?
Suter will be the lone elite defenseman on the market, and
he could easily become the highest paid blue liner in the NHL. If Christian
Ehrhoff got a 10-year contract last season and the Columbus Blue Jackets dumped
a Brinks’ truck full of money on James Wisniewski’s front lawn, then what will
The Preds are also frugal and likely will be priced out
of the market. Look for the Detroit Red Wings, Minnesota Wild, Carolina
Hurricanes and Philadelphia Flyers to be in play.
Semin fits the exact mold of the Russian NHL'er
stereotype: has plenty of talent, can amaze with ease but, more often than not,
is maddeningly frustrating. Sure, he can score 40 goals for you just as he did
for Washington in 2010. He can also dip down to 54 points, just as he has in
the last two seasons. His effort, moxie and will to win is always in question,
but the talent is there.
So, what does all that add up to? A team overpaying him in
free agency; I’d be shocked if that’s not the case. This has all the makings of
a Blue Jackets signing, but if it’s not them, Carolina and Colorado could be
Whitney just keeps on ticking as the 40-year-old is
coming off a phenomenal 77-point season. Even so, he’ll have a number of teams
knocking on his door despite his age; he hasn’t slowed down.
Smart money suggests that the Phoenix Coyotes find a way
to keep him, but maybe a Stanley Cup contender is willing to spend some money on
a one-year flier. He would be a real asset to a team trying to make a run in
Doan is in a similar boat as Whitney in the sense that
he’ll likely end up back with Phoenix. For the Coyotes, Doan is priority No. 1.
The Desert Dogs Captain has been the face of the
franchise for years and, after leading them into the second round of the
playoffs, they’ll do everything it takes to keep him around. It would be
shocking if he signed elsewhere.
What do you make of P.A. Parenteau? The 29-year-old has
had back-to-back 50+ point seasons, but how much of that was because he played
alongside John Tavares? Can he really thrive on his own somewhere else?
He’s a cheaper option that some cash-strapped team is
likely to take – maybe a team like Winnipeg, who could use an offensive boost
– but he’s really a 50/50 shot to be as productive as he was last year (67
points) unless he’s alongside more talented players.
Jokinen could very well be the most accomplished scoring
center on the market, which means he should find himself a long term contract
worth some surprisingly decent change.
He’s 33-years-old (which is probably younger than you
thought he was) which means someone can realistically give him a four-year
deal. What might surprise you even more is that he’s coming off his best season
since 2007-08; he has 61 and 54 points in each of the last two seasons.
My contract offer to him would probably be in the
neighborhood of $3 million per year – that’s what I would want to pay – but
he’s likely to get much more than that.
Hudler falls in the same category as Jones, but do you really want to be signing a player that Detroit is willing to
let go of? Did he overachieve there and now underachieve elsewhere?
He’s coming off a career-year with 25 goals scored – 23
at even strength – but had a cap hit of $2.875 M last year. Teams like Winnipeg
and Ottawa will give him a look.
Gaustad commanded a first-round pick from the Nashville
Predators at the trade deadline, so he’ll likely be quite sought after in free
agency. He’s a tough, gritty checking center who can be the centerpiece on a
third line for a Cup contending team.
There’s a shortage of guys like him, so look for him to
get a serious contract from a team lacking toughness. Vancouver?
It’s worth noting that the defensive crop is filled with
a slew of quality veteran blue liners, so there is value here. But after Suter
comes off the board, Carle will definitely be among the next to get a look.
He’s coming off a four-year stint in Philadelphia, where
he developed into a solid all-around blue liner. He’s very durable and likely
to garner around $5M per year on the open market – if not more.
Wideman will be heavily sought after as well in the open
market because puck-moving defensemen are a hot commodity in the NHL. He’ll
gladly chew up plenty of minutes, doesn’t do anything stupid with the puck and
can also lead a power play.
I wouldn’t be surprised if he re-signed in Washington, but
he’ll likely want a contract in the $4-$5M neighborhood, and that’s likely too
rich for their blood.
Jason Garrison had a cap hit of just $675,000 last year,
so expect him to see a massive pay raise this year. He’s fresh off a
career-year, setting new highs for goals (16), assists (17) and points (33). He
has an absolute rocket from the blue line, which means he’s going to be an
asset to any team’s power play.
The Canucks could be a suitor as he’s from B.C. but don’t
be surprised if Garrison gets one of the biggest contracts for a defenseman
this offseason (after Suter, of course).