NHL 2012 free agency analysis (part 1)

July 9, 2012, by

Last offseason, Coyotes GM Don Maloney prognosticated that some GM’s may “go berserk” at free agency and “the people who have money may just blow their brains out.” Maloney wasn’t too far off in that regard. With the exception of the Parise/Suter signings, this year’s free agency hasn’t been as crazy. Though, several high priced talent (i.e. Semin, Doan, Selanne) remain unsigned.

Anyway, we are going to break this analysis into two posts. Today’s post will focus on some of the “bigger names” and pricier contracts that have been handed out, while tomorrow’s post will focus more on the role players.

Zach Parise (F) to the Minnesota Wild for 13 years, $7.539 million cap hit

Parise will likely never play out this contract, so the term is irrelevant to me, but $7.5 million could be a significant cap dent if the new CBA ushers in a lower cap ceiling. All Wild fans can hope for now is that Parise meshes with Mikko Koivu, who is signed for another six years ($6.750m cap hit) and also sports a no-movement clause.

Ryan Suter (D) to the Minnesota Wild for 13 years, $7.539 million

Likewise with Parise, this is a significant dent to have on your cap, especially for a defensemen. The good thing is there are no other defensemen under contract for the Wild beyond 2014. Hopefully the Wild’s coaching staff can get all of these guys on the same page. I’d also expect the Wild to ditch their passive 1-2-2 forecheck now that they have an incredible arsenal of talent.

Matt Carle (D) to the Tampa Bay Lightning for 6 years, $5.5 million cap hit

Some feel Carle was kind of like the blueline version of Jordan Staal for the Flyers, buried on the depth chart behind bigger name players. Others feel the Lightning overpaid for someone who hasn’t cracked 6 goals since his rookie year (06-07). Either way, Carle was a 40 point defensemen on the market and those guys always get paid. A Carle/Hedman combo could prove to be lethal for the Lightning.

Dennis Wideman (D) to the Calgary Flames for 5 years, $5.250 million cap hit

You could make the same arguments for Wideman as you could Carle. Was Wideman’s production being stifled playing behind Chara in Boston and Green in Washington? It’s hard to know. Wideman has put up 30 point seasons and 50 point seasons in the past few of years. He could continue the same inconsistency in Calgary where the Flames are just identity-less and always on the verge of roster upheaval.

Jason Garrison (D) to the Vancouver Canucks for 6 years, $4.6 million cap hit

This is in an interesting contract. Garrison scored 16 goals and 33 points from the blueline last season for the Panthers, but it was only his second full season in the league and he’s already 27 years old. If he comes crashing back to earth, this is going to be one bad contract to have on the books, especially since he has a full no-trade clause.

Although many think he’ll be able to maintain those numbers playing with the uber-offensive Canucks, people forget there are four other capable defensemen on that roster who want their minutes with the Sedins and company. Keeping his blueline happy is probably not an easy task for head coach Alain Vigneault.

Jaromir Jagr (F) to the Dallas Stars for 1 year, $4.55 million cap hit

Last season Jagr scored 19 goals and 54 points for the Flyers. More importantly, he was universally praised in Philadelphia for his work ethic and being a mentor for young stars such as Claude Giroux. Obviously Dallas gave Jagr a substantial raise over last year’s ($3.3 million) contract in hopes he will do the same for their guns Loui Eriksson and Jamie Benn.

From a numbers perspective, it is hard to predict what kind of output Jagr will have at age 40. Last season his production slipped after the All-Star Game and he was a non-factor against the Devils in the playoffs when the Flyers finally ran into a real goalie. Still, if Jagr puts up around the same points and can help Loui become one of the best talents in the game, this signing will be a win.

Ray Whitney (F) to the Dallas Stars for 2 years, $4.5 million cap hit

The 40-year-old undersized Whitney proved to everybody last season he still has it. Whitney scored 24 goals and 77 pts for the more defensive oriented Coyotes, which was his highest output in three years. With a top 6 featuring Jagr, Benn, Eriksson, Roy, and Ryder, Whitney should be able to maintain a 60 point production despite being one of the oldest players in the NHL.

PA Parenteau (F) to the Colorado Avalanche for 4 years, $4 million cap hit

The 29 year old finally got his due after years of shuttling back and forth between the Show and the minors. After the Rangers let him walk two years ago, Parenteau went to the Islanders and tore it up with John Tavares. He scored 20 goals and 53 points in 2010-11 and 18 goals and 67 points this past season. It’s nice to see one of these pint size (his 6’0 200 lb listing is incredibly generous) AHL goal scorers finally transition to the NHL successfully.

Jiri Hudler (F) to the Calgary Flames for 4 years, $4 million cap hit

It’s hard to know whether Calgary got a 25 goal scorer or a 10 goal scorer. Over the next four years they’ll likely have both.

*Also, here’s my analysis of last offseason’s top free agent signings. It’s always fun to look back and see which players lived up to their contracts and which players did not.


  1. Seahorse says:

    P.A. was not worth 4mil a year. its easy to score with Tavares whos a fantastic player on a horrendous team

    • The Suit says:

      Disagree. Think he’s more talented then people are giving him credit for, plus he’ll be playing with Matthew Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog and Paul Stastny

  2. Walt says:

    Of all the above players mentioned, Suter will prove out to be worth the money spent. Parise will wear down in due time, and will not be worth the cap hit within the next four years!

    The above list shows how grossly over paid these free agents are! None of these players are worth the contracts signed.

    • The Suit says:

      Ultimately I think it depends on where the cap ceiling comes in after the new CBA is banged out. A 20 goal scorer has a different worth with a $58 million cap vs. a $70 million cap.

  3. SalMerc says:

    As of today, who would you rather have on the NYR, Brad Richards (at his cap hit) or Parise at his cap hit?

    • Jackson says:

      I’d say Richards. Our moderate depth at center goes right out the window without him.

    • Walt says:

      Until Parise wins a cup, and play-off MVP, you can keep him. Richards is proving to be a leader on, and off the ice, as well as a mentor. Parise wanted as much as Kovy, and was pissed when the Devils signed him to that contract.

      • The Suit says:

        Definitely an interesting choice by the Devils, but they’ll survive without Parise just like they’ve survived without every other free agent who has walked away from that franchise.

        • Scully says:

          Seriously. Lou L. has been running the best ship in the eastern conference since 1993. 3 Cups, 5 Finals appearances and have only missed the playoffs twice.