NHL Free Agents 2012: Hottest Rumors Around the Biggest July 1 Targets

Donald Wood@@Donald_WoodFeatured ColumnistJune 30, 2012

NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 17:  Goaltender Martin Brodeur #30 of the New Jersey Devils speaks during a press conference after becoming the winningest goaltender in history with 552 wins after defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 at the Prudential Center on March 17, 2009 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

With the 2012 NHL free agency period kicking off July 1 at midnight, the excitement over what should be a Sunday feeding frenzy has hockey fans all over the world on the edge of their seats.

As teams prepare to make their best moves to improve their squads, stars like Zach Parise, Martin Brodeur and Ryan Suter are all about to become free agents. With players of that caliber on the market, this will undoubtedly be a much-anticipated event.

Free agency is a time for teams to improve and a time for players to find the contract they feel they so richly deserve. For the fans, this is when hopes and dreams are built and broken.


Zach Parise

The New Jersey Devils are in the toughest position of any organization this offseason. After losing in the Stanley Cup Finals, the team could be facing the departure of not only Hall of Fame goalie Martin Brodeur, but captain Zach Parise as well.

ESPN analyst John Buccigross is reporting on Twitter about the Pittsburgh Penguins’ reported attempt to clear salary space for a run at the Devils’ star:

Penguins gained 2 million cap space in Staal trade. They are in position to offer front loaded contract to Zach Parise and pair him with #87

— John Buccigross (@Buccigross) June 23, 2012

With Pittsburgh not being the only team clearing room for a blockbuster deal, the Devils may have their hands tied. If they re-sign Parise to a huge deal, their roster would resemble what the Tampa Bay Lightning have with Vincent Lecalvier and Martin St. Louis.

Except New Jersey doesn’t have a Steven Stamkos; they have Patrick Elias.


Martin Brodeur

The poor Devils can’t get any luck this offseason, as Parise’s possible departure could also be coming on the heels of the news that veteran goalie Martin Brodeur may be taking his talents elsewhere via free agency.

Devils beat writer for The Star-Ledger, Rich Chere, is reporting on the team’s financial restrictions and how it may cost them the best goalie in NHL history:

Devils' financial situation has prevented GM Lou Lamoriello from committing to re-sign Martin Brodeur so he will test market as UFA

— Rich Chere (@Ledger_NJDevils) June 29, 2012

This news comes as a shock to hockey fans because if there were one player in the NHL that was thought to never want to leave his team, it was Brodeur. If the 40-year-old indeed signs with another team, it could be the oddest thing we ever witness in the NHL.


Ryan Suter

There is no more coveted free-agent defender in this class than Nashville Predators star Ryan Suter.

While every team under the sun would like a crack and the young shut-down defenseman, there is a short list of teams he would suit up for.

Despite having the ability to go anywhere he wants, Josh Cooper of The Tennessean is reporting that the Predators remain the leader to re-sign Suter for a long-term deal:

[Predators General Manager David] Poile said he talked with pending unrestricted free agent defenseman Ryan Suter by phone this week and, through those discussions, believes the All-Star will circle back to Nashville after hearing offers from other teams.

“Ryan is going to have a look on July 1, and based from talking with him, I’m sure he’s going to come back to us” to talk, Poile said. “I’m not going to say if it’s July 1, or July 2, he’s going to come back to us. We’re going to talk about what’s out there and how that compares with the situation in Nashville.”

With Nashville being a quiet hockey town with little pressure or media distractions, they have been the best fit for the even quieter Suter. Add in the high pressure an expensive long-term contract can bring, and it’s the best bet for all parties for Suter to stay in Tennessee.


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