2012 NHL Free Agents: Who's in the Running to Sign Both Parise and Suter?
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Four days into the NHL free-agent frenzy and it has been anything but, mainly because high-profile names Zach Parise and Ryan Suter have yet to decide where they're playing in 2012-13 and beyond.
It's put a serious hold around the league, with GMs waiting for both players to sign before transactions begin to heat up.
When free agency started on July 1, there were separate talks regarding both top free agents about their rumored destinations. The Pittsburgh Penguins seemed to be the front-runners for Parise, while most around the league felt Detroit would win the Suter sweepstakes as the quintessential replacement for Nicklas Lidstrom following his retirement.
So far, both players remain undecided. But, is it because of the minor details of their respective deals or is it because both have a desire to play with each other and are attempting to figure out a way to make it possible?
SportsNet's Nick Kypreos tweeted about the situation and offered his thoughts:
Listen to Parise in exc' interview with @JoshRimerHockey. U now get strong sense that unexpected delay may be he/Suter wanting play 2gether— Nick Kypreos (@RealKyper) July 4, 2012
Signing both players would be a monumental task for any team when you consider the amount of money both players are rumored to want while maintaining cap flexibility for future moves all while keeping in mind the current CBA expires in September and, assuming the 2012-13 stays intact, could see a different, lower salary cap number.
Yet, there are some teams who have enough space, and wherewithal, to sign both Suter and Parise to instantly change their fortunes.
Let's take a look at who those teams would be.
Detroit Red Wings
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Red Wings GM Ken Holland has crafted his team throughout his tenure since 1997 through savvy drafting and key free-agent signings. Under his leadership as GM, the Red Wings have won the Central Division eight times, the Presidents' Trophy four times and the Stanley Cup three times.
Not bad. In fact, one of the best executive jobs in all of professional sports.
Holland likes to maintain cap flexibility and, coming into this offseason, Detroit has nearly $17 million in cap space, with a portion eventually going to restricted free agents Justin Abdelkater and Kyle Quincey.
If both Parise and Suter are willing to go to Hockeytown, the Red Wings are one of the few teams that can accommodate both. Suter would become Detroit's No. 1 defenseman for the next decade while Parise would find playing with all-world talent Pavel Datsyuk as a blessing.
Detroit would become feared if both players signed. It hasn't been in the news much since July 1 and that may be intentional.
Don't count out the Red Wings as big players.
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Could a team that finished 12th in the Western Conference last season be labeled as Cup contenders? If that team signs both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, it's a resounding yes on paper.
Parise and Suter would complement Mikko Koivu, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Dany Heatly and Devin Setoguchi quite well along with the goalie tandem of Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding.
GM Chuck Fletcher is no stranger to the blockbuster move (he added Dany Healtly and Devin Setoguchi and let Brent Burns and Marty Havlat go last offseason) and, combined with Minnesota's $15.6 million in cap space, may feel he has a great chance at turning his team's fortunes around.
The Wild may have a distinct advantage over other teams because Parise is from Minneapolis and may want a chance at playing for his hometown team. Suter played one season with the Wisconsin Badgers and spent time with the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL before making his way to Nashville.
Could geography be the deciding factor? It all depends on what Parise and Suter's desires are. If they're set on reviving hockey in Minnesota and playing for the chance to bring home a Stanley Cup in a gracious yet raucous hockey community, then the Wild are huge favorites.
NHL agent Brian Lawton may have dropped a bombshell late last night (although unverified) according to his Twitter account:
Sorry about late night ...... Just back in town. Not sure yet on Parise but word is Ryan Suter will be playing for the MN Wild next season!— Brian Lawton (@brianlawton9) July 4, 2012
Time will tell.
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The Pittsburgh Penguins have been very active this offseason and may not be done making moves to improve upon their 108-point season.
GM Ray Shero shrewdly traded away star two-way center Jordan Staal to Carolina for a considerable return, signed franchise face Sidney Crosby to a 12-year, $104.4 million extension, traded for and signed backup goalie Tomas Vokoun and has been linked to both Ryan Suter and Zach Parise.
It's safe to say Shero has been a busy man. Can his team afford to take on two more mega contracts while also working on an extension for Evgeni Malkin down the road?
At the moment, Pittsburgh has roughly $10.5 in cap space and may have a trading partner for Paul Martin for cap relief in the Nashville Predators should they sign Suter. However, there's no guarantee Nashville would take on Martin's $5 million cap hit through 2015-16 and his past concussion issues.
One advantage Pittsburgh has is its extremely talented team just four seasons removed from a Stanley Cup as well as the Crosby/Parise Shattuck-St. Mary connection.
Unless Shero can find a way to move more salary around, it looks unlikely he would be able to sign both Parise and Suter. However, based on his body of work, you cannot rule them out until the signatures appear on the bottom line.