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NHL Free Agency: The Top 25 Free Agents and the Teams That Should Sign Them

Jeff LangridgeCorrespondent IIIApril 2, 2012

NHL Free Agency: The Top 25 Free Agents and the Teams That Should Sign Them

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    With the 2011-12 winding down, the time when general managers are going to have to make some tough decisions is getting closer and closer.

    Every July 1, GMs have to decide which players they want to let go and which players they should go after. Every team would like to go after the big names, but cap constrictions and a player's list of teams he'd want to go to can force a team to look elsewhere.

    This is a slideshow where I will list the players and the teams that would benefit the most from signing them. It's not a list of teams the player would want to sign with.

    That being said, here are the top 25 free agents this year and the teams that should sign them.

Ryan Suter

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    Team: Detroit Red Wings

    The Detroit Red Wings are probably going to lose Nick Lidstrom to retirement this summer. They are never going to be able to replace a player of his talents, but Ryan Suter could be as good as a replacement as you can get.

    If the Nashville Predators don't succeed in the playoffs like they want to, Suter might be the first to abandon ship.

Zach Parise

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    Team: Minnesota Wild

    In much the same case as Suter, Zach Parise could depart if the New Jersey Devils don't make it far in the playoffs. The other obstacle is the Ilya Kovalchuk contract. With Kovalchuk getting as much as he's getting, Parise is going to want the same, if not more.

    The Minnesota Wild surprised a lot of people when they succeeded in the early part of the season, but it didn't last long. They are now in the bottom 10 of the league and have shown they still have room to improve. Adding Parise would go a long way in achieving that.

Alex Semin

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    Team: Los Angeles Kings

    The Los Angeles Kings will likely be one of the teams going after Zach Parise, but acquiring Jeff Carter might take away their chances at acquiring the current New Jersey Devil.

    Alex Semin might be an inconsistent player at times, but when he is on his game, there are not many better than him. It might be worth the risk for L.A. to take a shot at him in hoping that he can help them with their goal-scoring problem.

Nick Grossman

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    Team: Chicago Blackhawks

    With the acquisition of Johnny Oduya at the trade deadline, the Chicago Blackhawks gave themselves additional depth on the blue line for the playoff run. If Oduya doesn't return in the offseason, the Blackhawks should go after Nicklas Grossman.

    One of the more underrated defenseman in the league, Grossman would make an already strong defensive corps even stronger.

Jiri Hudler

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    Team: Washington Capitals

    The Washington Capitals are one of the more disappointing teams in the NHL this season. Even though it looks like they will be able to make the playoffs, eighth place is not where they envisioned themselves finishing.

    Jiri Hudler has the experience of playing with the powerhouse Detroit Red Wings, and Washington should be looking for those types of players.

Matt Carle

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    Team: Philadelphia Flyers

    In the first case of a team retaining a player, Matt Carle should stay with the Philadelphia Flyers. He was Chris Pronger's defensive partner before Pronger was hurt, and he would more than likely keep that job when Pronger returns.

    Playing with Chris Pronger should be a good enough lure for him to stay.

Josh Harding

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    Team: Toronto Maple Leafs

    If the Toronto Maple Leafs are unable to land a bona fide starting goalie, they at least need to get a capable backup that can fill a starting role when needed.

    Josh Harding has proved he can do that in Minnesota, backing up the injury-prone Nicklas Backstrom.

Shane Doan

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    Team: Winnipeg Jets

    Not only would Shane Doan be returning to the city in which he started his career, he would provide valuable leadership to a team that desperately needs it. With the Winnipeg Jets looking like a team of average joes at times, they need an identity, and Doan would provide them with one.

Dennis Wideman

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    Team: Edmonton Oilers

    Dennis Wideman has bounced around the NHL more than the average player with his talents normally would. If he is not retained by the Washington Capitals, he will be on his way to his fifth NHL team in eight seasons.

    The Edmonton Oilers desperately need a top of the-line defenseman, and while Wideman is not the best defenseman in the league, he would definitely fill the need for the Oilers until some of there young defensive prospects make it to the NHL.

Brad Stuart

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    Team: Washington Capitals

    OK, so here's the new plan in Washington: just sign as many former ex-Red Wings as possible.

P.A. Parenteau

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    Team: Los Angeles Kings

    P.A. Parenteau has come out of his shell playing alongside John Tavares. While the New York Islanders are trying to re-sign him, other teams will be going after him once July 1 hits.

    Los Angeles could go after him as well if they fail to get Semin.

Ray Whitney

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    Team: Pittsburgh Penguins

    Ray Whitney is getting up there in age and probably only has a season or two left. He will most likely go to a team where he has a chance to win the Stanley Cup.

    In Pittsburgh, he could give the Penguins additional depth on the wing and would give them even more playoff experience.

David Jones

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    Team: Tampa Bay Lightning

    The Tampa Bay Lightning are heading for a rebuild only one season after making it to the Eastern Conference Finals. The Lightning are strong down the middle with Steven Stamkos and Vinny Lecavalier, and they have Martin St. Louis and Ryan Malone on the wings.

    David Jones would give them additional scoring depth and would give Lecavalier a more offensive winger to play with.

Johnny Oduya

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    Team: Montreal Canadiens

    The Montreal Canadiens have had one of their worst seasons ever, that much is certain. Now with no general manager, the Habs are going to need to find a new one before they can go after any free agents. Once they do, they are going to need to start a rebuild.

    Johnny Oduya would be a nice piece to help the defense get back to where it was.

Olli Jokinen

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    Team: Montreal Canadiens

    While Olli Jokinen is only 33 years old, he's starting to lose his offensive production he had early in his career. He will have to settle for less money.

    Montreal might be a team willing to take a chance on him.

Paul Gaustad

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    Team: Toronto Maple Leafs

    If you believe anything Brian Burke and Randy Carlyle say, it's that they want a tough team that's hard to play against. Paul Gaustad could be a target for them this offseason, as he would make the Leafs both of those things.

Bryan Allen

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    Team: Dallas Stars

    Dallas seems to be in a much better position with a new owner in place. With the Stars contending for the Pacific Division, they might want to add even more in the offseason to strengthen their chances next year.

    Bryan isn't a spectacular defenseman, but he does his job well and could provide depth in Dallas.

Andrei Kostitsyn

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    Team: Nashville Predators

    I just can't see Andrei Kostitsyn leaving his brother in Nashville.

Jaromir Jagr

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    Team: Pittsburgh Penguins

    It has to be the Pittsburgh Penguins. I can't see Jaromir Jagr ending his career with any other team. It just wouldn't be right.

Tomas Vokoun

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    Team: Columbus Blue Jackets

    The Columbus Blue Jackets desperately need a starting goaltender and they might be willing to overpay to get Tomas Vokoun. I'm sure he'll have no problem with that.

Milan Hejduk

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    Team: Detroit Red Wings

    If Milan Hejduk doesn't retire, which I think he will, he's going to a team that has a real shot of winning the Stanley Cup. It might be wrong for an Avalanche captain to play in Detroit, but it could happen.

Pavel Kubina

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    Team: Tampa Bay Lightning

    Doesn't he always find his way back there?

Ryan Smyth

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    Team: Edmonton Oilers

    Ryan Smyth is going to be an Edmonton Oiler for the rest of his career. If he was going to leave, he would have left at the deadline.

Sheldon Souray

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    Team: Carolina Hurricanes

    Sheldon Souray has earned another chance to stay in the NHL. If he is not retained in Dallas, he deserves a shot with another team.

    Carolina is going to be losing some veterans to free agency, and Souray could replace that while giving them some secondary scoring.

Dustin Penner

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    Team: Toronto Maple Leafs

    I think it's all but a sure thing that Dustin Penner will be a Toronto Maple Leaf next season. With the season that Penner has had, he will be cheaper than expected, and Brian Burke and Randy Carlyle were his general manager and coach when he was with Anaheim.

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