NHL Free Agency 2011: The 6 Rumors Most Likely to Happen

Matthew FairburnCorrespondent IJune 28, 2011

NHL Free Agency 2011: The 6 Rumors Most Likely to Happen

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    July 1 is a great day for a few reasons. Summer weather is in full force, Independence Day is on the horizon, and NHL Free Agent rumors become reality as unrestricted free agents pick a destination ending all of the speculation.

    Anyone who follows the NHL closely has likely encountered dozens of trade rumors ranging from highly likely to completely far-fetched. On Friday the rumors will slowly start to turn themselves in for the much more enlightening breaking news.

    Here are the seven rumors most likely to happen heading into free agency.

Brad Richards Signs with the New York Rangers

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    Having ruled out a return to Dallas, Brad Richards is set to hit the open market and become a very wealthy man. So the multi-million-dollar question is where Richards will sign.

    Well, the New York Post is just the latest to report the New York Rangers are interested in the top free agent on the market, and Richards is interested in them as well.

    Out of all of the teams interested in signing Richards, the Rangers make the most sense. They have the money to compete with any offer thrown at him and a situation that has piqued his interest.

    My money is on the Rangers in the Richards sweepstakes.

Big Name RFAs Won't Go Anywhere

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    One set of rumors that can be put to rest is any that have Steven Stamkos, Shea Weber, Drew Doughty, or Zach Parise playing in a different uniform next season.

    In addition to shelling out huge money, a team would have to provide at least two first-round picks as compensation in order to sign one of these players. Not to mention, the team that currently owns each of these player's rights would be out of its mind not to lock these guys up, and they are well aware of that. 

The Detroit Red Wings Will Sign a Defenseman

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    It may be tough to tell exactly which defenseman the Red Wings will sign, but there is little doubt that Detroit will break out the checkbook to address the blue line this weekend. The Fourth Period has reported just that with near certainty.

    Brian Rafalski's retirement has forced Detroit's hand on this issue, and with Nicklas Lidstrom not getting any younger, acquiring another top-four defenseman would not be a bad idea.

The Florida Panthers Will Be Big Spenders

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    Anytime a rumor comes straight from the horse's mouth, it has some merit. In an interview with the Florida Sun-Sentinel, Panthers GM Dave Tallon has stressed the importance of the upcoming offseason for his team.

    Considering the Panthers have to spend to hit the cap floor, even with the addition of Brian Campbell, it should come as no surprise that they are going to be big spenders in free agency. Florida has no other choice.

Semyon Varlamov Will Not Re-Sign in Washington

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    According to a twitter report, Semyon Varlamov is unlikely to re-sign with the Washington Capitals.

    However, without a ton of interest in the NHL Free Agent market, there is a decent chance the young goaltender takes his talents to the KHL.

    Either way, don't expect Varlamov back in the nation's capital next season.

Jaromir Jagr Will Sign with the Detroit Red Wings

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    It's almost certainty at this point that Jaromir Jagr will sign with an NHL team, but it's still up in the air as to which club the Czech forward will sign with this offseason.

    However, according to the Detroit Free Press Jagr is very close to inking a deal, the frontrunners being the Penguins and the Red Wings.

    Both teams are a solid fit for the aging goal-scorer, but the Red Wings makes the most sense and that's where I'm thinking he'll wind up.