The 2012 NHL Draft saw a lot of movement around the league with teams making trades and drafting players they hope can impact the team in the immediate future. Because of all this change, we now have a clearer picture of what free agency will bring this year.
This free agency features two superstars in Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, as well as many second-tier talents like Matt Carle and Ray Whitney. As always, free agency promises to have a major impact on the upcoming season.
One of the major changes was the Pittsburgh Penguins clearing a ton of cap space by trading away Jordan Staal and Zbynek Michalek. They now have the cap space to pursue the top free agents of this year's class.
Something that didn't change, but was expected to, were the teams that owned superstars like Rick Nash and Bobby Ryan. These players were expected to be moved, and the fact that they haven't means teams like the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers intend to make a strong pitch for the top of the free-agent class before committing to a trade.
That should all combine to drive up the price for the top free agents, which has a trickle-down effect on all other free agents as teams that missed on the major players will look to fill their holes with the next available options.
The Capitals added a talented forward in the draft in Filip Forsberg, as well as trading for center Mike Ribeiro. This all but guarantees the already anticipated divorce between the Caps and forward Alex Semin.
Semin should still attract a good amount of interest in free agency despite his occasional lack of effort.
Finally, a ton of teams drafted defensemen in the first round. Thirteen to be exact. This might lead to a price drop for defensemen on the free-agent market, as teams might shy away from paying low level veterans when they can just give the ice time to a developing prospect.
The NHL offseason happens in steps, and the first major step has come and gone. The NHL Draft has set the stage for a very interesting free-agent year that could prove to be a major shakeup for the NHL.