Less than a month from today, the free agent frenzy will commence; it will be here before we know it! Where will Zach Parise land? With the lack of talent in free agency, will there be more trades? Here’s a quick look at the market for forwards this summer…
Teams potentially looking for a top-six forward:
Boston, Calgary, Carolina, Columbus, Detroit, Minnesota, Montreal, Nashville, New Jersey, NY Rangers, Ottawa, San Jose, Toronto, Washington
Unrestricted free agents to watch:
- Zach Parise, NJ… This upcoming off-season has primarily centered around the pending free agent statuses of Parise and Nashville’s Ryan Suter. Parise, a year removed from knee surgery, is easily the top forward available this summer. He’s an elite winger and will be paid like one this summer
Parise has proven time and time again that he is a bonafide top-line winger in this league. In his seven seasons he has reached the 30-goal plateau five times. He had seasons of 94 and 82 points before tearing up his knee last year. He’s been a big factor for the Devils this postseason. There really hasn’t been any other free agent forward like him, heading into his prime, other than Devils teammate Ilya Kovalchuk back in 2010.
- Alexander Semin, WSH… Semin is a true wild card. His talent is tangible. When he breaks out his wrist shot in the slot, no one’s is better – not Stamkos’s, not Ovechkin’s. Over the last six seasons, Semin has averaged 31 goals and 64 points a year. The problem is his inconsistency, questionable commitment and injury history. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a GM that is willing to give Semin a contract worth $7 million for any length of time. Will that result in Semin heading back home to Russia and the KHL?
- Jaromir Jagr, PHI… As Semin may go to the KHL, Jagr’s return from that league was a successful one. Under a one-year deal with the Flyers, Jagr collected 54 points in 73 games – not great, but better than the majority’s expectations. He also expressed a sincere desire to stay in the NHL next year. Will he stay in Philadelphia or take his 40-year-old talents elsewhere? He’ll be an intriguing name to keep an eye on this off-season.
Others to keep an eye on:
- Rick Nash, CBJ… The writing is on the wall: Nash, the captain of Columbus, will be traded this summer. It would take a lot for it not to happen, especially after he requested a trade out of Columbus this past season. Nash has scored 30-plus in seven of his nine NHL seasons, one of the big reasons why the power forward will be coveted by a limited list of teams (upon his request) as the draft approaches. The Rangers, Bruins and Maple Leafs are thought to be contenders to land the star winger.
- Jordan Staal, PIT… Another individual whose name is constantly found in the rumor mill is Jordan Staal’s. He has insisted that he wants to stay in Pittsburgh, and GM Ray Shero has echoed those sentiments in keeping him. But that won’t stop the rumors, and it certainly won’t stop teams from calling Shero. Center is a major weakness in this year’s free agent class, which only increases Staal’s value. The Penguins would be crazy not to at least listen to other teams’ offers for the 23-year-old center.
Teams to watch:
- New York Rangers… Marian Gaborik’s shoulder injury that will cause him to miss the start of the 2012-13 season throws a wrench into things for GM Glen Sather and company. There were already heavily involved in the Nash sweepstakes at the trade deadline and that probably won’t change now. Then came the recent report that the Rangers are interested in Nashville’s Alexander Radulov, an RFA this summer. Something is up in New York.
- Anaheim Ducks… Last December, it looked like Bobby Ryan was on his way out of Anaheim with the team struggling mightily. Ryan stuck around as the Ducks opted to make a coaching change instead, but that doesn’t mean he’s out of the woods. In fact, it will be interesting to see what GM Bob Murray does with Ryan and/or Ryan Getzlaf; both could be used as trade bait to become a deeper team. Teemu Selanne’s decision on his future will be a factor as well.
- San Jose Sharks… San Jose went away quietly in the first round, which means changes should be in store in the Bay Area. The question is: who’s coming and who’s going? At the trade deadline, Ryane Clowe and Joe Pavelski were supposedly the centerpiece of a trade to pry Nash out of Columbus. Patrick Marleau’s playoff performance suggests his days could be numbered in San Jose. The Sharks will look to shake things up, particularly offensively.
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