UFA Spotlight

Philadelphia Flyers v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game Five

UFA spotlight – Matt Carle

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All week leading up to Sunday, July 1, we’ll be profiling unrestricted free agents and speculating where they might end up.

Matt Carle (D)

Age: 27

2011-12 cap hit: $3.44 million

The skinny:

Perception regarding Matt Carle could very well range rapidly if he hits unrestricted free agency. Many view him as a turnover-prone defenseman with solid offensive ability who benefited greatly from Chris Pronger’s presence. Others go as far as to compare him to Ryan Suter (seriously).

The truth is probably somewhere in between, but either way, it would be surprising if the Philadelphia Flyers don’t end up re-signing him. To the surprise of some, GM Paul Holmgren said that bringing Carle back is a higher priority than gaining another year of Jaromir Jagr’s services. Nothing new seems to contradict that earlier report, either.

Still, there should be a solid market for Carle if Philly balks at his asking price. And considering what Dennis Wideman got from the Calgary Flames, that asking price might’ve just gone up.

Ansar Khan labels Carle a solid Plan B if the Detroit Red Wings can’t land Suter.

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UFA spotlight – Jason Arnott

Jason Arnott
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All week leading up to Sunday, July 1, we’ll be profiling unrestricted free agents and speculating where they might end up.

Jason Arnott (C)

Age: 37

2011-12 cap hit: $2.875 million

The skinny:

At his age – he’ll turn 38 by the time next season begins – Jason Arnott likely won’t have a ton of offers to sift through. In fact, he might just want to root for the St. Louis Blues to follow GM Doug Armstrong’s stated plan of making limited moves.

Even so, he could get squeezed out amid the team’s continuing youth movement. The playing time he received in 2011-12 was surely augmented by the rash of injuries that struck the Blues. He responded respectably but not spectacularly, scoring 17 goals and 34 points in 72 games before only generating a goal in seven postseason contests.

Age and limited productivity will hold him back, yet you can’t totally discount his size and shot. Also, the Washington Capitals raved about Arnott’s leadership qualities in 2010-11.

Not much has been made about his league-wide appeal, but if he doesn’t get a job based on familiarity (the New Jersey Devils already brought him back once to limited results), he’ll likely make the most sense as a cheap veteran on a contender. Arnott has a solid chance of landing with someone if he’s willing to accept another one-year deal – probably for quite a bit less cash.

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UFA spotlight — Hal Gill

Hal Gill
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All week leading up to Sunday, July 1, we’ll be profiling unrestricted free agents and speculating where they might end up.

Hal Gill (D)

Age: 37

2011-12 cap hit: $2.25 million

The skinny:

Acquiring Gill was part of Nashville’s “all in” approach at the trade deadline and, for the most part, those moves blew up in GM David Poile’s face. Gill wasn’t an exception — acquired to play in the postseason, he was only healthy enough for five playoff games — but circumstances might open the door for his return.

The Predators are going to bleed free agents this summer, and Ryan Suter’s potential departure would require the heaviest stitching. Suter’s absence could help justify bringing Gill back, especially since Poile is on record of saying he wants size on the blueline.

That said, nostalgia might guide his course. Gill told Dave Stubbs that he still loves Montreal and it’s reasonable to assume Montreal might be interested in bringing him back for a second run.

If those two destinations don’t work out, Gill makes plenty of sense as a depth defenseman on a contender. While he can be exposed as a pylon at times, his value jumps in the playoffs. Much like in basketball, hockey’s pace slows down to the puck equivalent to “half-court offense” far more often, which suits Gill’s rugged, shot-blocking style.

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UFA spotlight — Zach Parise

Zach Parise
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All week leading up to Sunday, July 1, we’ll be profiling unrestricted free agents and speculating where they might end up.

Zach Parise (LW)

Age: 27

2011-12 cap hit: $6 million

The skinny: There’s no shortage of Parise suitors — to be honest, all 30 teams would like to acquire the services of a guy that’s notched five 30-goal seasons since the lockout, captained his team to the Stanley Cup finals and is regarded as one of the league’s most relentless and tenacious players.

That said, some have emerged as more serious players than others.

The Minnesota Wild are definitely interested. Ex-Minny GM Lou Nanne went on a local radio station and said that, while having dinner with Wild owner Craig Leipold, he learned “no one is going to outbid the Wild” for Parise’s services and the money offered will “be so substantial” that Parise won’t turn it down. Also, Parise was born and raised in Minnesota and his family still lives there.

Pittsburgh also appears to be in the mix. GM Ray Shero flipped Jordan Staal and Zbynek Michalek at the draft and cleared a bunch of salary in the process — important, as it was later revealed Shero wants to make a run at Parise and Ryan Suter. Parise would be an ideal winger for the Penguins, who have been trying to find an elite scoring guy to play alongside Sidney Crosby since forever. (After last season James Neal is now Evgeni Malkin’s official guy, in case you were wondering.)

The New Jersey Devils hold the unique distinction of, you know, having Parise under their employ, meaning there are six more days to try and convince him to stick in Newark. The Devils’ biggest problems are 1) their massive financial crisis and 2) the rumblings Parise isn’t all that keen on staying there. That said, he is the captain and the heart/soul of the team. That has to count for something….right?

Finally, there’s Detroit. GM Ken Holland is on record saying the Wings will be “very aggressive” on July 1, with most expecting them to go hard (hehe) after Parise. The allure for Parise would be the chance to be centered by either (or both of) Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg which, if you’re a winger, is pretty enticing.

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