NHL Free Agency / Offseason Predictions: Parise, Suter, Nash, Ryan

NHL Free Agency Predictions, 2012 Offseason – Where Will Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Rick Nash, and Bobby Ryan Go? Future of Devils, Wild, Predators, Flyers, Penguins, Ducks, Blue Jackets at stake.

Zach Parise has captivated the hockey world with his delayed decision on where he’ll sign a long-term contract this offseason. It seems the rest of the big names are waiting on him. Ryan Suter, the other big NHL free agency name, is looking for a similar deal likely worth 100 million dollars as well. Once the dust settles, big names on the trade market will fall into place. Teams continue to ask about Rick Nash and Bobby Ryan, but the price is still too high. Once Suter and Parise latch onto a team, Ryan and Nash may seem more reasonably priced as franchises determine the future of their organizations. Ultimately, the coming weeks are tremendously important for the New Jersey Devils, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, Phildelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Anaheim Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets, and a number of teams looking to make a splash this offseason.

Parise is the biggest name on the market and he’ll likely be the first to move. Once Parise settles on a location, which could include defenseman Ryan Suter, the rest of the big-name forwards will have to fall in place. Most of the smaller contracts, like Ray Whitney and Jaromir Jagr’s 4.5 million-dollar deals, are settled. The free agency market is increasingly polarized by the talent gap between its elite and the scraps that remain.

Zach Parise has maintained all along that he wants to sign with the New Jersey Devils, but with a plethora of gargantuan offers on the table it appears Parise’s loyalties will be tested. Division rivals like the Penguins and Flyers are making strong pushes for arguably the best American forward in the NHL. Ultimately, I think this decision comes down to two teams. The Penguins are too risky, and both the Penguins and Flyers carry emotional conflicts due to intense divisional rivalries. The Red Wings and Blackhawks were also rumored to be in the mix but appear to have gone silent in recent days. The Devils are in constant contact with Parise and might be able to lure him back with a careful blend of guilt and familiarity, but do they have the finances to do so? If they can make a comparable offer, I expect Parise to stay with the New Jersey Devils. If not, he could be homeward bound to Minnesota where his family lives. The Wild might be able to land both Parise and Suter and suddenly become a contender. I think the delay favors New Jersey and, right now, they’re my pick to keep Parise. The Wild have too many questions.

If Parise settles in New Jersey, Suter has a plethora of options in addition to Minnesota. While the duo of free agents may certainly end up in Minnesota together, the Flyers are in the picture and need a top defenseman. In fact, they too could very well land both players. Returning to Nashville is an option for Ryan Suter, but finances are again a concern and Shea Weber has a contract to consider in the immediate future. Still, the best fit for Suter appears obvious. The Detroit Red Wings need to rebuild and need to replace Nicklas Lidstrom. Suter would be an adequate replacement for the hockey legend and it’s tough to find a better place to play than Hockeytown.

Once Suter and Parise find homes, the market shifts to players that have been made available despite still having contracts. If the Flyers miss out on both Parise and Suter, they have a number of needs to address. They certainly need some offensive depth, but most of the more reasonably priced players have already moved forward while Philadelphia waits on Parise and Suter. Ultimately, they may be relegated to a trade and have the prospects and picks to bring in a big name. I think that name will be Bobby Ryan, and if the Flyers can hold onto Sean Couturier and land either Ryan or Rick Nash it’s a big win for the franchise.

As for Rick Nash, I don’t think the Columbus Blue Jackets will be able to move him. The asking price is incredibly high and Nash seems to be tied to Ohio. Perhaps it’s the attainability of their women or the lack of pressure that comes from being the best player on a horrible team. With no expectations, Nash is happily mediocre. He’ll get his goals in blowouts, he’ll keep his big contract, and he’ll ride out another lazy year in the basement holding up rebuilding efforts in Columbus. Nash continues to turn down deals and it’s hard to see a team satisfying Nash and the Blue Jackets. I think he stays put.

Mark Donatiello
Follow me on Twitter:  @FasterHockey ...read more

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