NHL Free Agency: Updates on Parise, Suter and the 6 Biggest Free Agents

Nicholas GossCorrespondent IJune 4, 2012

NHL Free Agency: Updates on Parise, Suter and the 6 Biggest Free Agents

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    With the start of free agency less than one month away, NHL teams are currently assessing their roster's needs and which free agents they will target to address those weaknesses.

    With just a few elite free agents likely to hit the market this summer, we could see several teams chase just two or three marquee stars. This will make the first week or so of free agency very interesting.

    Let's look at some updates on the free-agent status of the top-tier players available this summer.

    Note: Big-time free agents with no recent updates were omitted from this list.

Ryan Suter

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    According to ESPN's Pierre LeBrun, the talks between Suter and the Nashville Predators have gone well thus far.

    "I think there’s good progress, we talked about some of the same things, also some new things," [Predators GM David] Poile told ESPN.com on Friday. "He’s not saying anything that makes me feel that he doesn’t want to play in Nashville. I think we’re all on the same page. But he has to make a decision. He wants to talk to his family and to Neil Sheehy some more. The process will just continue."

    The Predators are a good team, but are they legitimate Stanley Cup contenders going forward, even with Shea Weber and Suter on the team?

    That's a question Suter will have to ponder while making his decision.

Zach Parise

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    There haven't been many updates on New Jersey Devils captain Zach Parise's future since his team is currently in the Stanley Cup Final, and he doesn't want to address free agency when it would become a distraction for his team.

    However, I still think Parise will sign with a top contender that can pay him a ton of money.

Ray Whitney

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    Ray Whitney will be one of the most sought after veteran free agents on the market, even at age 40. NESN's Douglas Flynn thinks Whitney would be a good forward for Boston to target.

    Whitney could be a perfect addition for the Bruins, and there was interest in him before the trade deadline but obviously he never became available as Phoenix stayed in playoff position and eventually won the Pacific Division.

    Even though Nathan Horton's concussion comeback is doing well, the Bruins still need to be aggressive in free agency or the trade market to get another scorer.

Tomas Vokoun

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    UPDATE: Monday, June 4 at 1:03 p.m. ET by Nicholas Goss

    The Capitals have traded Vokoun to the Penguins, according to TSN.

    The Pittsburgh Penguins acquired goalie Tomas Vokoun from the Washington Capitals on Monday for a seventh-round draft pick and then signed the veteran to a two-year, $4 million contract.

    END OF UPDATE

     

    Could Tomas Vokoun be the man to correct the Toronto Maple Leafs' goaltending issues? According to Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun, the Leafs are targeting him in free agency.

    Vokoun is among the goaltenders the Leafs have targeted as they head towards the NHL draft and looming free agency. And while it may not seem like the most ambitious of pursuits by the Leafs, it represents a nice, and relatively inexpensive Plan B, should the Leafs determine they can't or won't go after the very available Roberto Luongo.

    Since going after a younger goalie, especially a restricted free agent, would be expensive and cost assets, it makes sense that a few veterans would be targets of Toronto.

Justin Schultz

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    Unless he signs a new contract with the Anaheim Ducks, Justin Schultz will be an unrestricted free agent later this month and could be a target of all the teams who don't sign Ryan Suter.

    Per TSN's Bob McKenzie:

    Every NHL team will want this guy when he becomes an unrestricted free agent, which is likely to happen before July 1 but I can see the Vancouver Canucks, Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers among others being extremely interested.

    I would be shocked if Schultz doesn't hit free agency and have the rare opportunity to be an unrestricted free agent at just 21 years old.

Tuukka Rask

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    Since Tim Thomas is going to take a year off from hockey, Tuukka Rask is the clear No. 1 goalie in Boston, but as a restricted free agent, he has just been given a huge amount of leverage in contract negotiations thanks to Thomas's departure.

    Since he's the Bruins' only No. 1 goalie with Thomas gone, Rask can demand anything, and the Bruins could be in trouble.

    I don't foresee the Bruins having any major difficulties in re-signing him, but it will be an interesting situation to watch unfold.