Parise-Suter sweepstakes under way

Parise-Suter sweepstakes under way

Published Jun. 13, 2012 1:27 p.m. ET

Now that the NHL season has officially ended, prepare for the onslaught of rumors, innuendo and speculation that always make the NHL offseason a treasure trove of mostly useless information.

Until they re-sign with their current teams or move on, soon-to-be unrestricted free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter will be linked together, apart, with every team in the NHL and maybe even a KHL team or two.

Ever since the Los Angeles Kings were crowned Stanley Cup champions, New Jersey Devils captain Parise has dominated hockey headlines, tweets and columns. Peter King of Sports Illustrated has Detroit as Parise's No. 1 probable destination, while the Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons says the Kings have targeted Parise as their top priority this summer.

Simmons also writes, “While Parise has yet to speak openly about his future, the word that has filtered down to NHL general managers is that his No. 1 consideration in choosing a location next year is finding a team that just won’t challenge for the Stanley Cup next year, but will challenge every year.”

Although that might have some Red Wings fans salivating with anticipation, the Kings could be in great shape because they’re young, just won the Cup and are $16 million under the salary cap.  

But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. We’re only into Day 2 of conjecture during this current edition of free-agent frenzy.

This much we know: The Red Wings intend to be aggressive in their pursuit of Parise and Nashville Predators defenseman Suter. But their best shot might be to trade for their rights if New Jersey and Nashville each come to the realization that each star player is on the outs by July 1, when free agency begins.

The NHL Draft will be held on June 22-23 in Pittsburgh on the heels of the NHL Awards, which will be presented two days earlier in Las Vegas. Everybody in the league will be in the same location for nearly a week. This is when we’ll probably get a clearer picture of where Parise and Suter are heading.   
If their rights are traded, conventional wisdom says that the deal will be done sometime during the draft. Even though they don't have a first-round pick, this year’s draft could profoundly shape the Red Wings for the next dozen years.

Devils GM Lou Lamoriello doesn't have a history of trading players' rights before they become unrestricted free agents. His counterpoint in Nashville, David Poile, does.

Both are excellent executives, in really difficult situations. Letting their star players walk away for nothing would be an extremely tough sell to their fans.

For the Wings, the best-case scenario would be to acquire — maybe for a high-round draft pick and a mid-level prospect — either Parise’s or Suter’s rights (preferably Suter) and have them signed, sealed and delivered to Motown well before July 1.

Reports have been circulating that Parise and Suter could be a package deal. If this information is accurate, having one in the fold would certainly enhance the Wings' chances of nabbing both of them.

For certain, the Wings won't make any significant moves until Parise and Suter are off the board. They are paralyzed, have several plans but aren't really in control.

At this point, I’m leaning toward them getting Suter, then taking a deep breath — along with saying a silent prayer — and taking a risk on signing Washington Capitals forward Alexander Semin, hoping that Pavel Datsyuk can reel in his enigmatic fellow countryman.

Don’t hold me to this, though, because it’s only the beginning.

Everything could change in the next minute or two.