NHL Free Agency 2012: Jaromir Jagr Signs, Where & When Will Next Forwards Sign?
Yesterday, as reported by ESPN's Pierre LeBrun, Jaromir Jagr signed a one-year deal with the Dallas Stars for $4.5 million.
The Stars have now signed the 40-year-old Jagr to go along with the 40-year-old Ray Whitney, who Dallas signed on the first day of free agency to a two-year, $9 million deal.
While the Stars seem intent on acquiring veteran leadership and hoping that is enough to make a difference, there are plenty of teams out there also looking to make a difference in their own sort of way.
Jagr is just the latest in some high-profile forwards changing addresses via free agency.
Jiri Hudler signed a four-year, $16 million contract with the Flames.
Olli Jokinen signed a two-year, $9 million contract with the Jets.
P.A. Parenteau inked a four-year, $16 million contract with the Avalanche.
Still, several high-profile forwards remain unsigned, even though the rumor mills are churning.
Let's look at five of the top free-agent forwards still out there and try to project when, and more importantly where, they might sign.
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The prize of the 2012 free-agency class remains unsigned.
From the word go, Zach Parise indicated he had no real timetable for when and where he would sign.
Thus far, Parise has been a man of his word.
Of course, that does not mean the speculation sources have dried up. Far from it, in fact.
Parise has reportedly had offers from numerous teams, and the Devils, Red Wings, Penguins and Wild were all in the running, according to various reports.
Now, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports (h/t SB Nation) that the Flyers are considered one of the highest bidders out there for Parise.
All five of these teams present intriguing options for Parise. Many people want to see him go home and play for the Wild, which would certainly make for a great feel-good story.
But I think this is going to come down to the Flyers and Red Wings, although I would not completely count out the Pens.
I say this because I think Parise, having gotten to the Stanley Cup Final this past season, will want to complete the journey this coming season.
True, the Devils just made it to the Cup Final—and yes, the Penguins are likely going to be a major contender for the cup again this year.
But I have a feeling that with the Red Wings, having lost Hudler, and the Flyers, having now lost Jagr, will be the two highest bidders for Parise's services.
My gut instinct here says it will be the Red Wings who pull this off. The Flyers might be the more cup-ready team, but having spent his entire career in the Eastern Conference, I think Parise may want to switch to the Western Conference if just for the change of scenery.
Yes, I know that is not the most scientific analysis as to why Parise might sign with Detroit—but it is as good as some of the other reasons I have seen online.
I predict Parise will sign with Detroit by the end of the week.
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The future Hall of Famer has not officially declared that he will play next season, but most signs are pointing to his returning for another season with the Ducks.
Selanne may be 42, but he had a very productive 2011-2012 season with 26 goals, 40 assists and 66 points. He played in all 82 games last season.
Selanne remains one of the best-producing and most reliable players on a Ducks team that will likely need all the help it can get to compete for a playoff spot this season.
Look for Selanne to make this official by the end of July or sometime in early August.
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Alexander Semin is an enigma, and anyone who has spent years rooting for the Washington Capitals, such as yours truly, will attest to this.
He is incredibly talented and has one of the best shots in the game.
But he inexplicably vanishes once the playoffs roll around, whether due to a lack of heart or something else entirely. The crew of TSN absolutely eviscerated Semin the other day, just after free agency opened.
I have to admit, I have never heard analysts openly call a player of Semin's stature a "loser" and a "coach killer."
Still, there is no denying Semin's talent, and if he is on his game, he is a 40-goal scorer waiting to happen. There are many teams who could use that.
It is unlikely the Caps will be one of those teams. As far as is known, and as reported by Stephen Whyno of The Washington Times, there have been no negotiations between the Caps and Semin.
Early on, rumors linked the Russian to the Red Wings, but nothing more has happened with that as of late. When TSN's Marc Crawford was going off on Semin the other day, he thought Detroit would be a good fit for Semin so he could be paired with Pavel Datsyuk, his countryman.
Others have suggested the Avalanche as a potential landing spot for Semin.
Stephen Whyno's article indicated the Buffalo Sabres might be in the running for Semin.
So what is likely here?
If the Red Wings do not sign Parise, look for them to make a serious run at Semin.
However, though I do not necessarily agree with what TSN said about Semin—at least not completely—he has never proven himself to be a playoff producer or someone who has the clutch ability to lead a team to a Stanley Cup.
Sergei Fedorov and CSKA are likely going to throw a lot of money at Semin, who seems to play better in Russia anyway.
I think Semin will let free agency play out for a while just to see what happens after Parise signs.
In the end, however, he will sign with CSKA later on this month.
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Shane Doan is a player who, in my opinion, every NHL team should at least be thinking of.
The longtime captain of the Phoenix Coyotes, with his skill, intelligence and toughness, would make a tremendous addition to any team.
Last season, Doan scored 22 goals, had 28 assists and racked up a decent 50 points. He is one of the main reasons the Coyotes finally broke through, won a playoff series and made it to the Western Conference finals.
As a Caps fan, I would like to say that the Caps are in the running for Doan's services. They should be, but the rumor mill seems silent on that issue.
One would think the Coyotes would be the front-runner here, but Doan has indicated he wants to test the market, and all indications are that Doan won't begin negotiating with Phoenix until next Monday.
There are a couple of reasons why I am actually leaning against Doan returning to Glendale.
One big factor is all the uncertainty in Glendale. July 9 is when the signatures for a possible referendum on prospective owner Greg Jamison's lease agreement are due. Obviously, if the Coyotes are going to be leaving Glendale, or if that situation remains murky, that would lean against a Doan return to the desert.
You also have to figure that losing Ray Whitney did not sit too well with Doan. Are the Coyotes still a cup contender? That has to be something to take into consideration.
One team that has emerged as a potential landing spot for Doan is the New York Rangers. As reported by Larry Brooks of the New York Post, the Rangers would absolutely be interested in Doan if he decides to leave Phoenix.
Another team that has its sights set on Doan is the Red Wings. As reported by Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press (h/t SB Nation), if the Wings don't land Parise, then expect Detroit to make a hard run at Doan.
I say this comes down to the Rangers or the Coyotes. While Doan's heart will say Phoenix, his head will say Big Apple.
Doan would be a great fit for the Rangers. He is exactly the type of veteran leader who can carry the Rangers to the next level.
I think Doan signs with New York by the end of July.
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News on the Steve Sullivan front has been rather quiet.
That is a bit odd, as Sullivan was a solid producer as a role player for the Penguins last season with 17 goals, 31 assists and 48 points.
Those are not earth-stopping numbers, to be sure, but they are solid numbers that most teams in need of a productive forward would gladly take.
One has to figure the Pens are going to try to retain the services of Sullivan, but there is not much information or rumors to support this.
Obviously, if things do not go well for the Red Wings as far as Parise or Doan is concerned, then Sullivan would make a nice consolation prize. The Detroit Sports Site apparently agrees with this to a certain extent.
Perhaps Sullivan could go to Phoenix with Whitney leaving and Doan's future up in the air?
Or perhaps New Jersey if Parise decides to go elsewhere?
The Islanders obviously need to replace P.A. Parenteau, and they have been suggested as an option for Sullivan.
I have a feeling that Sullivan will go to New Jersey. No, I have nothing solid to base that on. It's just a hunch.
I predict that Sullivan will sign with the Devils by the end of July.