Losing Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart might be the start of one of the best offseasons in Detroit Red Wings history. The top two NHL free agents this summer, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, are the target of a rumor suggesting both players might call Hockeytown their home next season.
Parise, a left-winger, is the current captain of the New Jersey Devils and averages more than 60 points per season. “(Parise) has a fourth-line work mentality with first-line skill,” said fellow American and Los Angeles Kings captain Dustin Brown at the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals media day (via ESPN). Suter, an All-Star defenseman, contributes more than 40 points per season while also being effective defensively.
The two look to be interested in signing with the same NHL team this summer, that team likely being the Red Wings, according to Gregg Krupa of The Detroit News.
Parise’s salary this season was $6 million, Suter’s $3.5 million. On the open market, Parise could likely draw a contract worth between $6.5 million and 7.5 million per season. Suter could go from $4.5 million to 6.5 million per season. The combined annual salary cap hit for these players if they push the market to its limits could be above $14 million per season.
CapGeek.com has Detroit’s cap payroll listed at roughly $44 million for next season. The website lists next season’s expected salary cap at $70.3 million, based on a formula described in an article from The Globe and Mail.
Free agents include (with 2011-12 salary) forwards Jiri Hudler ($3 million), Tomas Holmstrom ($1.5 million), Darren Helm ($1 million), Justin Abdelkader ($825k) and defenseman Kyle Quincy ($3.25 million). Their combined cap hit is $9.5 million, and even giving all of those players a 25 percent raise would still leave the $14 million in cap space necessary for Parise and Suter.
However, for the opportunity to be part of a new era of Red Wings hockey, the two stars might agree to sign for less than their respective market values. Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne did this in 2003 with the Colorado Avalanche. Parise might go for a $7 million average salary ($1 million more than this season) as Suter takes a $5.5 million average salary (still a 36 percent raise for him).
Take a look at what the Red Wings lineup could look like if the team re-signs their current players (with 25 percent salary increases) while adding the two big names:
Valtteri Filppula ($3 million) / Henrik Zetterberg ($6.08 million) / Jiri Hudler ($3.75 million)
Zach Parise ($7 million) / Pavel Datsyuk ($6.7 million) / Johan Franzen ($3.95 million)
Todd Bertuzzi ($2.07 million) / Justin Abdelkader ($1.03 million) / Danny Cleary ($2.80 million)
Tomas Holmstrom ($1.87 million) / Darren Helm ($1.25 million) / Drew Miller ($838k)
[Scratches: Patrick Eaves ($1.20 million) / Gustav Nyquist ($875k)]
Ryan Suter ($5.50 million) / Jonathan Ericsson ($3.25 million)
Niklas Kronwall ($4.75 million) / Ian White ($2.87 million)
Kyle Quincey ($4 million) / Jakub Kindl ($883k)
[Scratched: Brendan Smith ($875k)]
Jimmy Howard ($2.25 million)
Joey MacDonald ($550k)
Salary Cap: $70.3 million Cap Payroll: $67,363,712 Bonuses: $37,500
Cap Space (23-man roster): $2,936,288
Not only is it highly possible for the Red Wings to add both Parise and Suter, it is possible for them to do so without demolishing their roster. In fact, the Red Wings could still re-sign all of their free agents to higher salaries and still have cap space left after signing everyone.
While many rumors are shot-in-the-dark ramblings with little potential of coming true (see: Steven Stamkos trade rumors, 2011 offseason), the possibility of Detroit adding the two biggest names available this summer is quite realistic.
Jason Sapunka covers a variety of NHL topics and is available on Twitter for day-to-day updates, commentary and analysis.
Roster generation and salary cap information courtesy of CapGeek.