NHL Free Agency: 10 Players Guaranteed to Succeed with Their New Teams

Brad KurtzbergContributor IAugust 29, 2012

NHL Free Agency: 10 Players Guaranteed to Succeed with Their New Teams

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    Free agency in the NHL is a crapshoot: teams often pay out big bucks to players in the hope that they will help upgrade their on-ice product next season.

    Sometimes the GM's gamble pays off, sometimes it does not. For every Zdeno Chara or Brett Hull that helps lead teams to Stanley Cup titles, there is a Scott Gomez or a Jeff Finger who under-produce.

    Here is a look at 10 players who are guaranteed to be successful with their new club.  

P.A. Parenteau, Colorado Avalanche

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    Parenteau played on the first line for most of the past two seasons along with John Tavares and Matt Moulson, which certainly helped his numbers.

    His primary value is as a set-up man, making good passes to help teammates put the puck in the net. On the Avs, Parenteau will be surrounded by plenty of good young talent like Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog and Paul Stastny, who can all convert Parenteau's pretty passes into goals.

    Expect Parenteau to settle on the second forward line and the first power-play unit. Also expect him to be very effective when the Avs have the man advantage and there's a little extra room for him to maneuver.

Jason Garrison, Vancouver Canucks

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    Garrison got off to a very hot start last year before cooling off after the All-Star Game.

    The big plus for Garrison is that the Canucks have a lot more talent than his former team, the Florida Panthers.

    Having Garrison on the power play along with the Sedin Twins or Alex Burrows will definitely be a plus.

    Also, with Dan Hamhuis, Alex Edler and Kevin Bieksa already on the Vancouver blue line, there won't be as much pressure on Garrison to put up huge numbers as some other UFAs will face.

    Expect Garrison, a White Rock, BC native, to do well and be very comfortable in Vancouver.

Jiri Hudler, Calgary Flames

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    Moving from the Red Wings to the Flames is a good news/bad news situation for veteran forward Jiri Hudler.

    The good news is Hudler will probably see increased playing time and may even get some chances on the power play. The bad news is that the Flames don't have the depth or talent level that the Red Wings have had in recent years.

    Hudler won't be without weapons to work with, however, and at 28, should be entering the prime of his career. With increased ice time and a fresh beginning, expect good things from Hudler in the coming seasons.

Matt Carle, Tampa Bay Lightning

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    The Lightning did their best this offseason to address their weaknesses, primarily goaltending and defensemen.

    On defense, they brought in Matt Carle and Sami Salo, which should give them more consistency and potentially some more scoring prowess from the blue line.

    Carle should be a first pair defenseman and play major minutes for Tampa Bay, most likely aside big and talented Victor Hedman.

    Carle will get plenty of ice and power-play time, and working with talented forwards like Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos and Ryan Malone can only help his production.

    While his numbers may not spike significantly over what he did on a talented Flyers team, another 35-45 point season from Carle would be just fine for the Bolts.

Olli Jokinen, Winnipeg Jets

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    Maybe I'll take some slack for this one, and I'm not saying Jokinen is any kind of superstar, but I feel he will be productive this year when he joins the Winnipeg Jets after spending last year in Calgary.

    Jokinen is not an ideal first-line center, but in Winnipeg, he will get plenty of ice time and have talented linemates like Evander Kane and Blake Wheeler.

    Jokinen should fit in well in Winnipeg and continue his 60-plus point level per season.

Ray Whitney, Dallas Stars

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    When is Ray Whitney going to slow down? When will he show his age? That question has been asked for years now but the answer has always been "not yet."

    Whitney has not scored fewer than 57 points in any of the last six seasons. While he may not match last year's 77 points in 82 games, he will get enough chances in Dallas to continue to be productive.

    Whitney's biggest asset is his hockey smarts. He sees the ice very well and knows how to create space and then take advantage of it.

    Expect more steady production from Whitney this year, especially on the power play.

Jaromir Jagr, Dallas Stars

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    The days of Jaromir Jagr being one of the best players in the world are behind him, but that doesn't mean he still can't be a productive NHL player, as he proved last year in Philadelphia.

    Jagr is smart and he still knows how to use his large backside to create room for himself on the ice. He may only do in spurts now rather than all the time, but he's still dangerous and an asset, especially on the power play.

    Expect Jagr to put up similar numbers to what he did a year ago (if he stays healthy) and provide some good leadership for some of Dallas' younger players.

Alexander Semin, Carolina Hurricanes

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    Alexander Semin is always a question mark. He has frustrated coaches, teammates and fans with his uneven production throughout his NHL career. Semin is one of the most naturally talented players in the league, but his production hasn't always matched his ability.

    That being said, the Hurricanes signed him to a one-year deal, which puts Semin in a good position to be successful. He knows he needs to produce to get another big contract and to stay in the NHL. He will also be surrounded by good players like Jordan and Eric Staal, Jeff Skinner and Jussi Jokinen.

    The tools are all there for Semin to succeed. Now it's up to him. He should improve his statistics from last year; I would expect 30 goals and 65 points from the Russian sniper this season. If he hits those numbers, there's a good chance the Hurricanes try to sign him long term.

Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild

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    Ryan Suter was half of the biggest haul of UFAs in the league this summer with both he and Zach Parise signing identical long-term deals to join the Minnesota Wild.

    Suter is one of the better defensemen in the league and there is little reason to think he will suddenly tail off now that he's earned his big payday.

    The Madison, Wisconsin, native will be playing (relatively) close to home and will be on the Wild's top defensive pairing.

    He has scored between 33 and 39 points in each of the past four seasons on a defensive-oriented Predators teams. Expect him to at least match those numbers with the Wild.

Zach Parise, Minnesota Wild

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    Zach Parise has always been Mr. Consistency for the New Jersey Devils, and while this list is not in any particular order, Parise is the player I am most confident in when it comes to success in a new home.

    The last five seasons he has been healthy, Parise has scored at least 31 goals and 62 points for the Devils. There is no reason he shouldn't at least match those numbers in Minnesota.

    Parise is returning to his home state and playing in the same market his dad, J.P. Parise, played in back in the early 1970s.

    He is a mature player and a natural leader. If there is anybody who won't lose his intensity and desire because he signed a big contract, it's Zach Parise.

    He will also be surrounded by plenty of offensive talent in the Twin Cities like Ryan Suter, the underrated Mikko Koivu, Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi. Add rookie Michael Granlund and you can see why opposing defenses won't just be able to key on Parise this year.