NHL Free Agency: Pittsburgh Penguins and Teams to Watch This Offseason

Mike ShiekmanFeatured ColumnistJune 24, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - MARCH 14: Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates with the puck against Zach Parise #9 of the New Jersey Devil during their game on March 14, 2007 at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey.   (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

NHL free agency is underway following the NHL draft, with the fates of Zach Parise, Roberto Luongo and others now hanging in the balance. Many of league’s top teams look to stay in the elite tier with big moves this offseason.

Here are the teams to keep an eye on in the upcoming months.


Pittsburgh Penguins

After a busy Friday, the Penguins have become darlings of the NHL offseason.

Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero cleared out cap room for his team to become major players in free agency, but he had to let go of some of his main cogs to do it. He shipped star center Jordan Staal to Carolina, followed by dealing defenseman Zbynek Michalek to Phoenix.

Last week, names like Parise and Ryan Sutter weren’t even in the Penguins' stratosphere. Now Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin could be playing with both come October.

After a busy Friday, the Penguins have become darlings of the NHL offseason.

Shero would need to make one more deal for the Parise-Sutter combo to be in range (perhaps Paul Martin and his $5 million) but if they do, the allure of playing with Crosby and Malkin should swing one of the two guys to ink with Pittsburgh. 

The NHL could have their version of the Miami Heat by free agency's end. Stay tuned.


New Jersey Devils 

The Devils were two wins away from the Stanley Cup, but this team is far from contending if they lose the faces of their franchise this offseason.

As noted earlier, Parise is on the market and high in demand. Parise has said he would love to stay in New Jersey, but suitors are coming out of the woodwork and may give him an offer from a Godfather movie (see Pittsburgh). Losing Parise would be a huge blow to a New Jersey offense that was known for its grind-it-out style.

Also, Martin Brodeur’s future remains in question. The Devils need to address a backup plan at goaltender, even if the 40-year-old ironman decides to give it another go. New Jersey could go after a young backup for cheap, similar to how they found Brodeur 20 years ago. Josh Harding and Chad Johnson, in particular, could be worth taking a chance on.


Vancouver Canucks 

Following a superb regular season campaign from the Canucks, Vancouver self destructed along with Roberto Luongo’s confidence in the first round of the playoffs.

Now the Canucks are shopping their star goaltender, even after being unable to pull the trigger on a deal at the NHL draft.

If Vancouver ships off Luongo, who has received interest from Florida and Toronto, then this Canuck team’s future will certainly be in flux. They have backup Cory Schneider who shared duties with Luongo behind the pipes last season, but it does not seem they have confidence in Schneider to be a full-time starter.

The upcoming weeks will certainly be a telling one for Vancouver and their GM, Mike Gillis.