2012 NHL Free Agency: Zach Parise, Ryan Suter or Bust for the Detroit Red Wings
The 2012 free agency season is about to open. Most of the Detroit Red Wings faithful already have Zach Parise and Ryan Suter as locks to sign with the team.
While there is surely interest by all parties, there is no lock.
What happens if neither Suter nor Parise come to town? Will that make the offseason a bust? They are obviously the two most sought-after free agents and rightly so. The Red Wings will have stiff competition from other teams in their pursuit.
This is a team that can already score, so while they would love to add a player like Parise, it is not a do or die deal. With the retirement of Nicklas Lidstrom and the trade of Brad Stuart, the defense has two large holes that will need to be filled. This makes Suter or another defender an even higher priority.
While they are the dream targets, there are more players out there that could help this team.
The big name right now is Justin Schultz. He was drafted by Anaheim but failed to sign an entry-level contract, so he is now a free agent. Due to his status, teams can only offer him a minimal contract of $875,000. Because of this, pretty much every team in the league is interested in the highly touted defender.
Many believe that he is ready to step into a top-four defender role right away. With the Red Wings, there are two such spots open. Having that opportunity on a top-level team might entice him to come to Detroit.
Shane Doan is a surprise entry to the list. Although he is a free agent, it was assumed by most that he would re-sign with Phoenix. That changed when it was reported by Adrian Dater that he plans to test the free agent market. While not as young as Parise, he would bring a toughness and physicality to the offense that they seem to lack.
Keith Yandle has been rumored to be available for trade, according to Daren Millard of Sportsnet. The seemingly always cash-strapped Coyotes look worried about paying his $5.25 million salary. The Wings could easily take on that contract; the issue would be what they would have to give up. Is Yandle worth giving up Brendan Smith, who Phoenix would likely ask for in return along with other players?
Alexander Semin is a high-scoring player whose two-way game has improved. He has the ability to be a 50-goal scorer but did not fit well into Washington’s new system. He played next to Pavel Datsyuk in the World Championship and sparks flew. It is easy to see them teaming up and giving opponents nightmares next season.
Jason Garrison may not be a known name. The last two seasons he has been a regular player for Florida. He has shown the ability to score with 16 goals this season as well as the ability to play strong in his own zone. He will likely draw interest from several teams because he is young and has progressed well in his few seasons.
The pressure is not quite as high as some believe on the team. While Stuart and Lidstrom are gone, and will be difficult to replace, they already have someone waiting in the wings. They should be adding Brendan Smith to the team next season, which helps fill one of those positions. He proved himself to be ready in his stint with the team this year.
These are just a few of the names available. While Parise and Suter top everyone’s dream list, failing to get them will not doom the team. They will still be strong on offense and, depending on who they sign, can still be a solid defensive unit.
The Red Wings have a history of finding gems late in the draft and helping to resurrect players' careers. Even if they do not sign Parise or Suter, they have earned the benefit of the doubt in whatever players they do decide to add to the team.
PJ Sapienza is a featured columnist covering the Detroit Red Wings as well as many other sports.
You can follow him on Twitter.
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