Sources: Suter intrigued by Pittsburgh
Zach Parise and Ryan Suter headline this years group of unrestricted free agents and both through their agents are going through preparations for what’s to come on July 1.
Parise and his agents Wade Arnott, Don Meehan of Newport Sports met on Monday to lay out what teams they expect to be in pursuit and teams they have interest in, in addition to their plan of attack regarding talks with the New Jersey Devils. Talks between the Devils, Parise have begun and indications are the Devils will propose an offer by Thursday at the latest. Parise for now continues to say all the right things.
“If that does happen {hit the open market}, my agents have done a really good job of doing the best they can to prepare me for it. But first and foremost, we want to try to get things worked out with New Jersey,” the 27-year-old left winger told The Star-Ledger. “If it does happen to get to Sunday {hit the open market}, that’s by no means saying I don’t want to go back to New Jersey. “I know the perception would be, ‘Oh, he wants out.’ But that’s not the case. I haven’t been lying. I’ve said all along how much I like playing in New Jersey. So that wouldn’t be me saying, ‘I don’t want to play there anymore.”
Despite Parise saying all the right things, expectations leaguewide remain that Parise is set to hit the open market and at least entertain offers. Questions about New Jersey being able to field a competitive team long-term due to their financial situation and soon to be 70 year old GM Lou Lamoriello likely not being around for the length of Parise’s contract are among the notable concerns Parise is said to have.
The Pittsburgh Penguins fully expected to chase Parise, has spooked teams around the league who feel the Crosby/Parise connection could make them the favorites, but there’s also some chatter going around in the past 48 hours that if Parise leaves New Jersey, he won’t sign with a division contender and prefers to sign with a Western Conference team due to the huge amount of respect he has for the Devils organization and Lamoriello. The Wild, Red Wings and Kings continue to be regarded as the favorites in the Western Conference to sign Parise.
For Ryan Suter, he is also going through similar preparations this week. Suter and his agent Neil Sheehy held meetings on Monday, and Tuesday laying out their plan of attack for July 1 and preparing for what teams they expect to chase the franchise defenseman. Suter is still considering the Nashville Predators but will test free agency where the Penguins, Red Wings, and Wild will be among the expected 8-10 teams to be in serious pursuit.
What is likely to be different between the two star players is their strategies on July 1. For premier free agents, Parise’s reps at Newport Sports in the past have hosted interested teams at their Newport Sports headquarters on July 1, meeting with a select group of teams who normally make video presentations and such, trying to sell the particular player on the team, city. They did it last season with Brad Richards, hosting the likes of the New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings, Toronto Maple Leafs and Calgary Flames. I’m told Suter and his reps have no plans to go that route in regards to hosting/meeting with teams on July 1.

Despite talk of only being interested of playing in the mid-west and staying in the Western Conference, Suter intends to take a patient approach on July 1 and weigh all options. Even prior to the Penguins opening up cap space at the draft, Suter’s camp has felt Pittsburgh could be a team to go after Suter as rumblings of GM Ray Shero looking to reshape his blueline have been out there for a few weeks now around the league.
Suter said to be seeking a 10-12 year deal, is intrigued about the situation in Pittsburgh I’m told. What will be an intriguing dynamic though is whether Pittsburgh’s “system” not money is eventually their downfall. I spoke with one agent on Monday who represents an established 30-something veteran defenseman set to be an UFA on July 1 who is slow footed, but brings excellent size to the table, in addition to the ability to block shots and clear the front of the net. I asked this agent if he feels Pittsburgh is a place his client could be interested in and the agent said “not likely” and that they don’t see Pittsburgh as a fit because of what the coaching staff demands out of their defensemen in the puck retriving game. With established veterans over the past couple years like Zbynek Michalek, Jordan Leopold, Jay McKee and Paul Martin struggling to adapt to the Penguins system, it’s something at least one agent of a pending UFA has taken notice of and I’m sure others have. While I get the sense Suter’s camp feels the 27 year old defenseman can fit into any system, it’s something they are likely to weigh.
Elliotte Freidman of CBC and Hockey Night in Canada is very well connected around the league and is an analyst who I regard as a reputable NHL insider. However, I’m not buying his continued chatter that the Penguins could chase Rick Nash via trade. Freidman mentioned it last week leading into the draft and again on Tuesday in a feature, writing “Have always believed Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson’s best opportunity to deal Rick Nash will be after Parise’s decision. Think some other teams hoped their first-round picks would really appeal to Columbus, but that wasn’t the case. My guess is that Nash and Bobby Ryan, if Anaheim wants to do it, get dealt after Parise signs. If Pittsburgh doesn’t get Parise, Nash makes sense — assuming it has what the Blue Jackets want.”
My Take: The Penguins I can confirm have not been involved in any trade discussions for Nash to this point and even if the asking price were to significantly come down, I just don’t see them going that route. A big reason why I’m told is the Penguins hate Nash’s cap hit of $7.8 million and some inside the organization are said to question Nash’s “drive”.
— 35 year old winger Shane Doan of the Phoenix Coyotes will test free agency as will Islanders winger PA Parenteau who had 18 goals, 67 points last season. I will have something up on both players in the morning. Contenders will be lining up to lure Doan to their city.
— The NHL and NHLPA will hold CBA talks on Friday. Craig Adams, Chris Kunitz are two of the 55 players scheduled to attend the meetings. Nothing will get done until September.
Hall of Fame: Joe Sakic, Adam Oates, Mats Sundin and Pavel Bure were voted in to the Hockey Hall of Fame on Tuesday by the 18-member selection committee. The players will be officially inducted into the Hall of Fame on Nov. 12 in Toronto. Sakic who had 625 goals and 1,016 assists in 1,378 NHL games, was a no brainer to be voted in on Tuesday as a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Sakic scored 50 goals twice and had six 100-point seasons. He won Stanley Cups in 1996, when he was playoff MVP, and in 2001. Sakic won the Hart Trophy and Lester Pearson awards in 2001 and was MVP of Canada’s gold medal team at the 2002 Winter Olympics. He also won world championship gold in 1994.
While Sakic was a lock to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, many felt the same for Brendan Shanahan who was one of the league’s premier power forwards, scoring 656 goals, 1354 points and won three Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings.
— What a day it was for Adam Oates on Tuesday who was first named head coach of the Washington Capitals and hours later inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Oates who was one of the premier playmakers in the game, had 341 goals and 1,079 assists in 19 seasons. Oates had four 100-point seasons, including 1992-93 with Boston when he had a career-high 45 goals and 142 points. He played 19 seasons with Detroit, Boston, Washington, Philadelphia, Anaheim and Edmonton.
The Russian Rocket Pavel Bure finally got the nod on Tuesday and was one of the most exciting goal scorers of all-time. Bure had 437 goals and 342 assists in 11 seasons and posted back-to-back 60-goal seasons in the early 1990s (92-93, 93-94) and had five seasons of 50-plus goals.
Although Mats Sundin had widely been regarded as a Hall of Famer, his induction as a first ballot Hall of Famer did catch some around the league by surprise. Sundin who had 564 goals and 785 assists in 1,346 games, never won a Stanley Cup, but was captain of Sweden’s 2006 Olympic gold medal squad.
Meanwhile, voters continue to look down on former Flyers head coach Fred Shero’s impact on the game as he was by-passed once again. Shero who evolved the Flyers into the Broad Street Bullies and won two Stanley Cups in the 1970’s with the Flyers and also took the Rangers to the finals, was Shero regarded as an innovator, being the first coach to employ systems, and he was widely known as one of the first Western coaches to study Soviet influences, and study film. Shero had a career record of 390-225-119 and 62-47 playoff record.