NHL Free Agents 2012: Zach Parise and Best UFAs on the Market

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistJuly 1, 2012

NEWARK, NJ - MAY 21:  Zach Parise #9 of the New Jersey Devils speaks to the media after they defeated the New York Rangers 4 to 1 Game Four of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Prudential Center on May 21, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

With the 2012 NHL unrestricted free agency period kicking off today, it’s time to break down the hottest names on the UFA market.

There are two crown jewels of this year’s class—Zach Parise and Ryan Suter—and the majority of teams will make their first offer to one or both of those players. Other stars like veteran Jaromir Jagr will be looking for a role on a Stanley Cup contender.

All of the fowling players will make some serious cash during the free agency period—no matter where they end up hanging their helmet in the 2012-2013 season.

Zach Parise

The New Jersey Devils were at the doorstep of a championship this season, but they may have to watch two of their biggest stars walk away. For as big of a loss as Martin Brodeur is, captain Zach Parise is even worse.

Parise is one of the best two-way forwards of the free agents, but that’s not why teams are going to break the bank for him. With 60-plus points in five of his last six seasons and a career high of 94 points in 2009, teams are looking at Parise as the ultimate weapon.

There is little doubt that the Devils will go all-in on the captain, but they may be tied by the possibility of having two players make up the majority of their payroll. It would be as bad, if not worse, than the situation in Tampa Bay with Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier.

Ryan Suter

GLENDALE, AZ - MAY 07:  Ryan Suter #20 of the Nashville Predators skates with the puck in Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Phoenix Coyotes during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Jobing.com Arena on May 7, 2012 in Glendale, A
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

There are tiers to the defenders in this free-agency class, but Nashville Predators star Ryan Suter is in a whole level of his own. Suter is the biggest prize on the defensive market and arguably just as valuable as Parise.

Not only can Suter jump up into the offensive play occasionally, he can be used as a point man on the power play. On the other hand, the Predators defender is also one of the best penalty killers in the league and one of the few pure shut-down defenders.

With the ability to take the oppositions star almost completely out of a game with his physical play and his hockey I.Q., signing a star the caliber of Suter can take a franchise in Stanley Cup contention and make them favorites.

Jaromir Jagr

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 08: Jaromir Jagr #68 of the Philadelphia Flyers gets ready to play against the New Jersey Devils in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center on May 8, 2012 in Phil
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

While the Philadelphia Flyers would love nothing more than to get veteran winger Jaromir Jagr back in the orange and black next season, it won’t be before the star tests the free agency waters first.

Despite the fact that he was returning to a league he hadn’t played in since 2008 and a team he was unfamiliar with, Jagr managed 54 points in 73 games in what was a solid season. If he has another year like that in him, the veteran could be a great addition to a Stanley Cup contender.

All of the teams that were interested in the star’s service last year around this time will find their way back again, but the feeling around the league is that Philadelphia is the leader out of the gate (h/t ESPN).

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