With free agent hunting season opening up in just four short days, the posturing and speculation from the big spenders and wanna-bes has reached a near fever pitch. Once thought to be the favorites to snatch both of the premier free agents, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, the Detroit Red Wings have sine been replaced by the Pittsburgh Penguins as the potential high rollers July 1st.
Puzzling to me is the prospect that the Penguins, who sit $15 million under the salary cap are suddenly the favorites. Their trade of Jordan Staal to Carolina is now being looked at as a cap clearing stroke of genius by Penguins GM Ray Shero. While the Pens have a long term deal in the works for captain Sidney Crosby, they can still reel at least one of the big fish to the Steel City.
Detroit meanwhile , is probably happy to let Pittsburgh grab the headlines. Red Wings GM Ken Holland has done some of his best work behind the scenes and under the radar. Detroit will refuse to be outbid for both of the free agent prizes. It’s a Hockeytown dream to procure both All-Star’s services, but the reality is Detroit will br happy with one and still make some free agent moves to bolster their roster for next season.
Plenty of teams will still be looking for a goalie, and Roberto Luongo is looking for someplace to forward his mail. Rick Nash doesn’t want to hang around for another rebuilding year in Columbus, and there’s plenty of interest in his services too. Word on the street is that neither All-Star will be moved until the market value is determined by the signings of the next week.
So now I’ll attempt to figure out where the top ten free agents are headed. By the top ten free agents I mean unrestricted free agents free to negotiate with any team in the NHL. I have determined the following to be the top 10 in descending order with their projected team next to their name.
10. Jiri Hudler-Los Angeles
9. Olli Jokinen-Calgary(resigns)
8. Matt Carle-Philadelphia(resigns)
7. Shane Doan- Phoenix(resigns)
6. Jason Garrison-Florida(resigns)
5. Jaromir Jagr-Anaheim
4. Alexander Semin- Detroit Red Wings
3. P.A. Parenteau-New York Islanders(resigns)
2. Ryan Suter-Detroit Red Wings
1. Zach Parise- Pittsburgh Penguins
With my “guess-timate” of where each player will land there is certain criteria that need to be met. For example, my projection of JAromir Jagr to Anaheim is based on the following: Anaheim will be vastly improved over last year and will contend in the West, Bobby Ryan will have his ego stroked to keep him in SoCal and Jagr will be a signing that will help convince him that the franchise wants to win now, the Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau has an up tempo offensive style of play that favors skill players like Jagr, Jagr loves the ladies and there’s no better place to find ladies as an old rich guy than in Anaheim, Teemu Selanne will keep Jagr from being the oldest dude on the team.
So July 1st can’t come soon enough for hockey fans. Some people will have new players to cheer for and new players to hate. Teams will be lobbying to land the top talent, and project themselves into the mix as next years’ Stanley Cup favorites. We’ll keep you tuned in to all the action, stay tuned!
Rob Kirk is an avid sports enthusiast and gentleman of leisure who enjoys the finer things in life, such as moustaches, hockey and the musical stylings of Michael Bolton. You can check out his writing on Bleacherreport.com and ThePuckDoctors.com. Follow him on @Rob_Kirko and tell him how much you disagree with his work!