stuhackel
Sunday July 1st, 2012

The Devils' dicey financial status may affect the timing of Zach Parise's decision to re-sign or go elsewhere. (Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

By Stu Hackel

6:45 PM -- OK we're gonna wrap this up. So here's the recap:The biggest names are still out there, which shouldn't surprise anyone. There's a lot to sort through for Parise and Suter. Will they be together or apart? The second tier of defensemen in free agency (Garrison, Carle) will get offers once Suter decides and the Nash/Ryan trade market heats up after Parise decides. Brodeur? Who knows what tomorrow will bring? If Parise walks, will he stay, with the Devs throwing money at him? Or will he go elsewhere, figuring he'll have a better chance for a last Cup elsewhere? Who did a lot? The Avs got P.A. Parenteau, Greg Zanon and John Mitchell, not a bad day for them. The Canadiens signed three rugged guys in Francois Bouillon, Colby Armstrong and Brandon Prust. The Stars made the most lucrative signing in Ray Whitney, who is help for their power play. The Wild got wild with Zenon Konopka and Torrey Mitchell.

Justin Schultz picked the Oilers to start his NHL career and they had a good day, bringing back Ryan Smyth and Darcy Hordichuk. Sidney Crosby signed a gazillion dollar long-term contract and we can only hope he is healthy enough to play it out. Jordan Staal signed a pretty big one as well with his new club.

[UPDATE 1 AM Monday: Since we signed off, the big news was Jason Garrison getting a contract (which I wrongly thought would happen after Suter signed) with the Canucks, for six years and $27.6 million, the biggest deal of the day. It's kind of a lot of money for a 27-year-old who has had but one productive season, but he's a good player and certainly had interested lots of teams and that drove up his price. He helps fill the spots vacated by Sami Salo (who went to the Lightning) and Aaron Rome (who signed with Dallas to fill the spot left by Sheldon Souray going the Ducks where he'll take the spot held by Lubomir Visnovsky, who was dealt to the Islanders in the blueline merry-go-round).

With Souray, Byran Allen and depth d-man Jordan Hendry as insurance, the Ducks upgraded their blueline corps on Sunday, also adding Brad Staubitz up front, so there's some new toughness on this club. The Sabres added big John Scott, so they'll get tougher, too, if he plays -- which he didn't very much last season as a Ranger. He's not much of a skater and his hands aren't really used for puck skills.

On Monday morning, the Devils signed Marty Brodeur to a two-year offer. And the Capitals -- who almost got through the day with their biggest story being about how TSN's panelists trashed UFA Alexander Semin...

...did sign someone in the evening: Joey Crabb, the depth winger who was on the Leafs last year. Come to think of it, Washington's biggest story was still the dissing of Semin.]

So thanks for hanging in with us. Feel free to scroll down and see what happened earlier. It was quite a day, even without the biggest names committing.

6:35 PM -- On the NHL Network, McKenzie says the Flyers have offers totalling $100 million each for Parise and Suter. Each. Jeez....Too bad neither of them can play goal.

6:34 PM -- Lisa Dillman of the LA Times says the Ducks are circling Sheldon Souray.

6:30 PM -The Wings sign Jordin Tootoo. Well, that should be fun.

6:18 PM -- McKenzie says  the teams on Zach Parise's shortlist are the Devils, Wild, Flyers, Penguins and Red Wings. No mention of Kings.

6:16 PM -- From Gord Miller of TSN: "Det signs Mikael Samuelsson to a two year deal." He comes back after leaving the Wings in 2009.

6:11 PM -- Lisa Dillman of the LA Times tweets "It is the Kings understanding that they are still in the running for Zach Parise."

6:08 PM -- Chris Stevenson of the the Ottawa Sun tweets "I figure with the signings today and Staal and Crosby extensions becoming offiical, that's about $455 million in commitments. #nhl #lockout?"

5:56 PM -- GM Scott Howson says he's no closer to making a deal for Rick Nash. I suspect, as everyone else does, that this arena will be quiet until Parise signs. That could well be on Monday, as will Suter's decision.

5:54 PM -- Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun tweets "Winnipeg Jets now have Antropov and Ponikarovsky. Wondering: How long before they name Pat Quinn as coach?"

5:48 PM -- Lebrun tweets that "Bryan Allen gets three years at $3.5M per year from ANA." That's a good pickup for the Ducks blue line.

5:46 PM -- McKenzie tweets "Zach Parise's decision will not come until tomorrow. Has narrowed the field to a select group and will decide Monday." And Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News Observer tweets, "Rutherford says Parise's agent says Canes likely will not be on short list." Somehow, I'm not shocked by that news.

5:41 PM -- Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch tweets "Obviously it's been a quiet day for the #stlblues, but I don't believe they're done today."

5:39 PM -- Dustin Brown tweets, "Now that @Dustinpenner25 has signed on for one more year I stocked the team snack room. #mmmmmcheese http://pic.twitter.com/xVF5GhfL" Hey, life's good when you're the champs.

5:33 PM -- Tim Panaccio of CSN Philly tweets that Jaromir Jagr's agent Petr Svoboda told him JJ got 21 offers today. And he tweeted that with an exclamation point at the end. Indeed.

5:30 PM -- Salo indeed to the Lightning. Two years $3.75 per. Good upgrade in an area the Bolts needed it...if Salo stays healthy. He rarely does.

5:27 PM -- And the Leafs do something. Via McKenzie "TOR signs Jay McClement to to 2 year deal worth $3M." Canadian Press Chris Johnson tweets, "McClement is a combined minus-76 since the NHL lockout -- second only to Jack Johnson (minus-85) for worst in that category."

5:25 PM -- LeBrun tweets that Suter's agent, ex-NHLer Neil Sheehy, denies Suter has decided anything. George Johnson of the Calgary Herald tweets "Neil (The Butcher of Harvard) Sheehy hasn't been this much in demand since he was driving Gretzky nuts all those years ago."

5:21 PM -- TSN's Gord Miller tweets "Sounds like Sammy Salo is heading to Tampa." I thought he was headed to Europe. Salo that is, not Gord.

5:19 PM -- Aaron Portzline of Columbus Dispatch tweets: "Aucoin mentored Seabrook and Keith when he was in Chicago. Did same with youngsters in Phoenix. Now he gets John Moore and Ryan Murray."

5:16 PM -- Lots of twitter buzz that Suter has chosen the Red Wings.

5:08 PM -- Lots of discussion on Isles losing Parenteau, how the Isles could let that happen, whether Boyes will be an adequate replacement and whether Parenteau will flourish in Colorado. First, anyone who thinks Parenteau only benefited from playing with Tavares didn't notice he was a pretty good scorer before that in junior and the AHL (eventually). He's got talent and there are good centers to play with him in Colorado. Boyes' career arc seems to be going in the other direction. I'd have kept him if I were the Isles, but they probably didn't want to spend the money.

5:03 PM -- Chuck Gormley of CSN Washington tweets, "Capitals do not appear to be close to anything right now in terms of signings or trades..."

5:02 PM -- RDS's Lavoie tweets "Possible Martin Brodeur will wait before making his decision. Florida-Chicago-Toronto and NJ (still there) have strong interest."

5 PM - We'll hang in for another hour and see what happens. It's gotten quiet.

4:53 PM -- Finally, a bit of a lull. Still nothing on the biggest names aside from Schultz, who has never played an NHL game. Parise may come down later today, but most likely announced on Monday from what we've heard, seen and read. Suter will take longer. Brodeur, perhaps waiting to see what happens with the Devils, if they can keep Parise and make a run for it next year. Jagr, nothing.

4:46 PM -- Prust on RDS (via @DailyCanadiens): "Think Montreal was best fit. Had feeling #Habs would come after me; love city and history, hockey market."

4:43 PM -- Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News tweets "Today's biggest free agent by far. RT @richarddeitsch Erin Andrews has joined Fox Sports. http://SI.com story: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/writers/richard_deitsch/07/01/erin-andrews-fox/index.html "

4:38 PM -- Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports that the Blue Jackets have signed vet d-man Adrian Aucoin. Another Coyote departs. Lots of miles on him but he still can eat up big minutes.

4:35 PM -- Not watching Euro championship game (wish I could) but David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period is and he tweets "If this pace continues, Stamkos will score for Spain too..." I guess they're winning big.

4:33 PM -- RDS's Lavoie tweets "Joe sakic called PA Parenteau personally. They were 1st call. Avalanche wanted him bad and he felt that way." Adds that Montreal did not make an offer.

4:29 PM -- Some signings: Oilers bring back Darcy Hordichuk; Ex Oiler Taylor Chorney signs with the Blues.

4:26 PM -- Ian Mendes of Sportsnet tweets the Sens are out of Parise and Nash hunts. GM Murray says Nash wouldn't waive his NTC to come to Ottawa.

4:21 PM -- Kevin Allen of USA today reportes Chris Mason returns to Nashville to back up Pekka Rinne. That's a good move.

4:17 PM -- Reports have the Avalanche signing P-A Parenteau. No, he doesn't come along with John Tavares, but he'll have a few good centers there. Maybe he can help perk up Matt Duchene. Four years at $4 mil per.

4:16 PM -- Dreger tweets: "Flyers submitted big bids on both Parise and Suter. For the moment, Philly appears to be out on Nash. Things can change quickly."

4:13 PM -- Bruins, Caps, Leafs? Nothing. ESPN Boston Jimmy Murphy tweets "Chiarelli says he's not 'actively looking for anything' and waiting for secondary market and in free agency and trading."

4: 11 PM -- The Panthers have signed George Parros. They'll love his 'stache on South Beach.

4:06 PM -- The Devs lose another. ESPN's Custance tweets, "Eric Boulton signs 1-year deal with Islanders, excited about opportunity: 'It's a promising young team.'" Yes, and it has been for years and years.

4:05 PM -- TSN numbers guy Kevin Gibson tweeted "we are now at 33 signings and over $84million as we approach 4pm EDT"

4:03 PM -- Larry Brooks of the NY Post tweets "Told that Red Wing offer for Nash is not competitive...Carolina, Ottawa, Philly not on 61's list."

4 PM -- McKenzie tweets "Alexei Ponikarovsky to WPG, 1 year, $1.8M." So the glorious Ponikarovsky era in New Jersey comes to an end.

3:56 PM -- Chicago is heard from: James Mirtle of The Globe and Mail tweets the Hawks have signed defenseman Sheldon Brookbank, formerly of the Ducks and Devils. The Hawks say they want to improve their blueline and he's a rugged guy, but I don't think he's anything more than depth insurance.

3:53 PM -- McKenzie tweets "COL's deal with Greg Zanon is two years, $4.5m total"

3:51 PM -- Rob Rossi of Pittsburgh Tribune Review tweets "Told #pens have gone BIG on #PariseWatch but not sold that decision will be made today; club feels good about talks"

3:49 PM -- TSN's Dreger tweets, "Carolina and Detroit are in a strong competition with New York Rangers for Rick Nash. Nothing imminent. Canes said to be pushing hard."

3:45 PM -- They didn't get Carkner, but Greg Zanon, late of the Bruins, has signed with Avalanche. Good positional d-man and shot blocker.

3:43 PM -- Elliotte Friedman of CBC tweets "No idea if posted yet, so what the heck. Crosby breakdown: $12M first three seasons. $10.9 next two. Then: 10, 9, 9.6 and 9..."

3:39 PM -- ESPN's Craig Custance tweets: "Spoke w/Jim Rutherford. If Canes don't get Suter/Parise, he'll aggressively pursue trade: 'We're talking a top line player to play w/Eric.'" Meaning Staal.

3:37 PM -- Chris Johnson of Canadian Press tweets this quote from Ray Whitney, who left Phoenix for Dallas, "I found in Phoenix, without an owner, we got stuck with some of the worst scheduling I've seen in 20 years."

3:35 PM -- Rich Chere of the Star-Ledger tweets "Bryce Salvador and representative Carlos Sosa 'considering multiple options at this point.'"

3:34 PM -- Prust gets four years, $10 million from the Habs.

3:31 PM -- Islanders pugilist (and little more) Michael Haley signs with Rangers. Adam Proteau of The Hockey News tweets, "So far, the Rangers have signed Arron Asham and Micheal Haley. Clearly, Glen Sather felt they weren't suspendable enough."

3:28 PM -- Reports floating that the Canadiens have signed Brandon Prust, a very good checker, shot blocker and penalty killer who was with the Rangers. He can throw 'em too.

3:25 PM -- LA Times Lisa Dillman tweets "Update re Dustin Penner. The deal is 1 yr $3.25 million. Says a lot about commitment to LAK. Could have gotten longer term elsewhere."

3:23 PM -- George Richards of the Miami Herald blogs that the signing of Filip Kuba means that Jason Garrison is almost certainly gone.

3:19 PM -- Mitch Melnick of Montreal Radio TSN 990 tweets that Bouillon is "tougher to play against than (Raphael) Diaz or (Yannick) Weber. At least one of those guys is gone."

3:17 PM -- Chip Alexander of Raleigh News-Obsever tweets "Rutherford says perception of Hurricanes 'totally changed' by acquiring Jordan Staal. Helps with pitch to free agents." He adds that Rutherford said a decision on Parise could come today or tomorrow, but Suter may take longer.

3:13 PM -- The Canadiens didn't bring back Latendresse, but McKenzie tweets they ARE bringing back fireplug d-man Francis Bouillon, who has had a long relationship with Therrien. Bouillon leaves Nashville after three season. It's a one-year deal for Frankie Boo.

3:10 PM -- There are reports that Dustin Penner has re-upped with the Kings. He said he'd take less to stay there. Well, he wasn't going to get more.

3:08 PM -- We have a trade: The Senators have traded Nick Foligno for defensive defenseman Marc Methot from Blue Jackets. So that's how the Sens start to rebuild the defense and Foligno was expendable with the signing of Latendresse.

3;04 PM -- Dave Shoalts of The Globe and Mail has this story on the Devils plight. He says Vanderbeek should not be counted out, but also says two groups would put money in the team but now with Vanderbeek as part of it.

2:59 PM - Chris Stevenson of The Ottawa Sun tweets "Filip Kuba gets $4 million a year for two years from the Florida Panthers. Do the Panthers know Erik Karlsson doesn't come with him?"

2:55 PM -- TSN panelist LeBrun says if Detroit doesn't get Parise, they'll look at Semin. Dreger says they also might look at Nash, but the Rangers are still tops on the Nash possibility list. McKenzie says the negotiations between FLA and VAN for Luongo continue. McGuire still believes Parise and Suter end up in Pittsburgh.

2:50 PM -- Larry Brooks points out on Twitter that Asham has now played for every team in the Atlantic Division. He started out with the Habs.

2:45 PM -- His agent tweets that Filip Kuba is headed to the Panthers. The Panthers give him $8 mil over two years. He had a good season teaming with Erik Karlsson in Ottawa. The Senators have now lost two of last season's d-men in Kuba and Carkner.

2:40 PM  -- Glass takes the place of Aaron Asham, who signs with the Rangers. Andrew Gross of The Bergen Record tweets, "If the #NYR are bringing in Arron Asham, it likely means they're not bringing back Brandon Prust."

2:38 PM - Multiple sources say the Penguins have signed Tanner Glass, last year with the Jets. Not a bad pick-up. He can play that rugged Pittsburgh style on third/fourth line. And he'll throw 'em.

2:34 PM -- Dave Hodge's TSN Reporters panel on who they'd sign beside big two, Parise and Suter; Dave Naylor - Jagr; Mike Farber - Jason Garrison, Steve Simmons - P-A Parenteau. Farber says Jagr is the only one of that group anyone would pay to see. Hodge wants Ruslan Fedotenko or Dustin Penner because they have Stanley Cup rings.

2:29 PM --  On cue, Pagnotta of The Fourth Period tweets, "Michal Rozsival, Jaromir Jagr, Matt Carle and Olli Jokinen mulling over several offers right now. (nothing earth shattering, eh)" and Jagr will be discussed on TSN after the commercial.

2:26 PM -- Yahoo's Nick Cotsonika tweets, "Funny. Very little chatter about Jagr."

2:21 PM -- Seth Rorabaugh tweets "Is CNN running the @Avalanche twitter feed?" Good one.

2:16 PM -- Burish deal is for four years. A lot, eh? Well, good for him. An upgrade over Torrey Mitchell.

2:12 PM -- The Matt Carkner mystery is now solved. The Avs thought he was going there, but he has ended up with the Islanders, which is a good signing for NYI. He's a good, physical d'man. Not a top d'man but he'll be useful.

2:09 PM -- Chris Johnson of Canadian Press tweets "Columbus signs goalie Curtis McElhinney to a two-way deal." The Blue Jackets are cornering the market on non-elite goalies.

2:08 PM - Seth Rorabaugh of Empty Netters in Pittsburgh tweets "The Stars were last in the NHL last season in the power play at 13.5 percent. Ray Whitney will help that big time."

2:05 PM -- Big pay cut for Boyes, who never became what the Blues thought of him when he was drafted. He's signed for $1 mil, a $3 mil pay cut. Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News tweets "Boyes simply signed for I-want-to-stay-in-the-league money. Hope they give him an exit key to Nassau Coliseum..."

2:04 PM -- Rich Chere of The Newark Star-Ledger ruefully tweets, "Can't understand why Devils fans are so nervous today. The entire fourth line has already been re-signed."

2:03 PM -- TSN's McKenzie has Brad Boyes UFA of the Sabres going to the Islanders.

2 PM -- Dave Molinari of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweets "Penguins re-sign enrforcer Steve MacIntyre to two-year, two-way contract."

1:58 PM -- Dave Pagnotta of The Fourth Period tweets "Sharks sign center Adam Burish."

1:54 PM -- TSN chatting up Olli Jokinen as a UFA signing, with the panel saying Winnipeg or Vancouver would be good spots. Ferraro, a former teammate,  testifies as to his reformed ways, saying he now watches the way he eats and that he stopped drinking. Presumably he means alcohol.

1:49 PM -- Lavoie tweets the Ducks have signed Brad Staubitz for two years. Guess he takes Parros' spot.

1:44 PM -- TSN reports UFA Ray Whitney has agreed to a two-year deal with Dallas. Biggest money deal so far today, $9 mil total. He had a huge regular season last year with the Coyotes but, as Ferraro notes on TSN, he didn't do much in the playoffs for San Jose. McGuire says it's a power play, penalty killing league now and Whitney can do that. He's now 39 years old. 77 points last season and a second team All-Star selection. He's cashed in on that.

1:39 PM -- Colby Armstrong signs with the Canadiens. One year. He's been hurt a lot in recent years, too. The Leafs bought him out yesterday. Apparently, he was a Habs fan growing up. Lots of questions expressed on TSN about his ability to "get around the ice" because of his injury history, but he's got lots of character if he's in shape. Armstrong played for Habs coach Michel Therrien in Pittsburgh.

1:38 PM -- LeBrun now tweets the Wings are NOT going to visit Parise and agent. This is the best yes/no story of the day, yes? no?

1:35 PM - RDS reporting via twitter Latendresse signs with the Senators pending his passing a physical (and pending my reading French correctly). He has had multiple concussion issues.

1:33 PM - Rich Chere of The Newark Star-Ledger tweets: "Significant interest in Bryce Salvador. Many calls to his agent, including from Islanders. Devils still very much in the picture"

1:31 PM - Renaud Lavoie tweets "Wild signed Torrey Mitchell.

1:28 PM - Dreger tweets "Konopka agrees to 2 year contract with Minnesota Wild."

1:25 PM -- The Canes have also made a bid for Suter, and Alexander says the 'Canes had John MacLean speak to Parise. Former Devs coach, now assistant in Carolina.

1:21 PM -- Craig Custance of ESPN tweets "Strong interest out there in George Parros. Already has a few offers on the table." He only played 46 games last season and was a healthy scratch a lot in the second half.

1:19 PM - Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News-Observer says 'Canes made a pitch to Parise "and he didn't say no." Geno Reda on TSN says the Wild also made a pitch and he says the Wings will indeed fly to Mississauga to make a pitch.

1:13 PM - LeBrun now reports the Hawks have spoken with Pat Brisson about Brodeur and McKenzie says that the Hurricanes have signed D-man Joe Corvo and goalie Justin Peters. McKenzie says the Rangers have signed Stu Bickel (and I was Stu Hackel long before he was Stu Bickel). UFA defenseman Mike Lundin has signed with the Senators and there is also some confusion about the Avs signing Matt Carkner -- the team tweeted it, but Carkner's camp says no -- so hold the phone on that one.

1:10 PM -- Not sure about these reports of the Wings visiting Parise. At least according to The Detroit Free Press which tweets Ken Holland is in his office and the only place he's going today is home sometime later.

1:05 PM -- LeBrun tweets the Hawks have yet to speak to Pat Brisson about Brodeur. Ansar Khan of the Michigan Booth newspapers tweets the Wings delegation will meet with Parise at 3:30 pm.

1:02 PM - The Avs tweet they have also signed UFA D-man Matt Carkner (last year with the Sens).

1 PM - TSN's Dreger tweets the Leafs have spoken to Marty Brodeur's agent; just an inquiry. Bob McKenzie spoke earlier on TSN about Parise getting a $12 million signing bonus that would be paid even if there's a lockout. He now tweets that Suter also wants that bonus. 

12:57 PM -- LeBrun says on TSN Crosby has spoken to Parise about joining Penguins. They're old friends from prep school hockey in Minnesota at Shattuck St. Mary's.

12:55 PM -- Rumors the Canadiens are talking to Guillaume Latendresse about returning there, which is where he wants to play to be closer to his son.

12:51 PM -- Pierre LeBrun tweets the Flyers have made offers to both Parise and Suter.

12:49 PM -- John Mitchell, UFA forward from Rangers, will sign a two-year deal with the Avalanche, according to TSN. For those who remember, he started out as a Maple Leaf and he was also the Attorney General of the U.S. under Richard Nixon.

12:45 PM -- More signings -- Goalie Yan Danis with the Oilers, center Greg Rallo with the Panthers, Brett Sutter with Carolina. Nothing earthshaking there.

12:40 PM -- David Moss, UFA defenseman with the Flames, has signed with the Coyotes, according to Bob McKenzie on TSN.

12: 36 PM -- The Red Wings have signed UFA  goalie Jonas "The Monster" Gustavsson. Remember when everyone thought he was the best goalie not in the NHL? He wasn't, but he was pretty good last year at times with the Leafs. They need a backup and maybe The Monster will be the guy. Or maybe he'll be in the AHL. The Leafs traded his rights to the Jets; it's a two-year deal with the Wings.

12:30 PM -- Lots of buzz in the last day about Flyers UFA defenseman Matt Carle. He was expected to be back but he's available and will get offers. A good second-tier d-man and the Flyers will miss him if he goes.

12:29 PM -- TSN's Darren Dreger tweets the Jets will pitch for Parise. Jim Matheson of The Edmonton Journal tweets he expects the Oilers will be active in trade market as well.

12:27 PM -- Bruce Garrioch of The Ottawa Sun tweets: "Several teams have shown interest in Alex Semin. Many will circle back later in the day after seeing where market goes."

12:25 PM -- Will the Flyers use Leighton as Ilya Bryzgalov's backup? Don't know if he's much of an upgrade over Sergei Bobrovsky.

12:22 PM -- Some signings: The Jets have re-signed defenseman Darren Meech, the Flyers have inked goalie Michael Leighton, the Panthers have held on to goalie Scott Clemmensen, and Ryan Smyth returns to the Oilers for two years at $2.25 million.

12:20 PM - Here's the official NHL Free Agent list

12:13 PM -- Marc Crawford on TSN says Chicago would be a good fit for Brodeur. Ray Ferraro cautions that he'd only sign Brodeur for one year, considering his age and inconsistency. Pierre McGuire says he thinks CHI would go two years, but share's Ferraro's concerns about Marty, who was not good early last season.

12:10 PM -- On TSN, Justin Schultz says new coach Ralph Krueger had a big role to play in his deciding to sign with Oilers.

12:08 PM -- In addition to Parise, Brodeur and Salvador, the Devils other UFAs are Petr Sykora, Alex Ponikarovsky and their other goalie Johan Hedberg. This will be a very interesting few days in New Jersey.

12:04 PM - Renaud Lavoie tweets that the Lightning have signed Benoit Pouliot, 1 year, $1.8 million. They got his rights from the Bruins last week.

12:02 PM -- If you want a quick refresher on what needs each team might seek to fill in the offseason, here's the rundown in the Eastern Conference and Western Conference.

Noon -- Release the hounds.

11:55 AM -- Lots of reports that the Red Wings are visiting Suter at his home in Wisconsin, with GM Ken Holland, Chris Chelios and owner Mike Illitch in the delegation.

11:50 AM -- On NHL Home Ice Satellite radio, they've reported that Parise has decided to go to market and he's seeking a $12 million signing bonus which would be guaranteed even if there is a lockout in September.

11:30 AM - Hello Canada and Happy Canada Day to you. And hello to hockey fans in the United States and around the world. From the gondola in my home office on a beautiful and warm Sunday morning, surrounded by various computers, a TV screen, satellite radio (not to mention cooling appliances) and monitoring news feeds and twitter accounts from around North America, it's the start of the NHL's annual free agent frenzy.

Let's get right to what we know and what we don't. We know that Justin Schultz, the prized collegiate defenseman who declined to sign with the Ducks, who drafted him, has signed with the Oilers. That makes him the first high-profile free agent to sign with Edmonton maybe ever. He's a Western Canada kid, felt that's where he wanted to play and was able to find a way through league regulations to gain his free agency -- which has greatly angered fans of the Ducks. He didn't break any rules, however, so any hostility will be just due to the Ducks not signing him. They certainly could have used him to rebuild their defense and that's the same position the Oilers are in. The other teams in the hunt were the Canucks, Maple Leafs, Senators, Rangers and Wild.

On to the next big topic -- and it could be the biggest thing that comes out of free agency -- the state of the Devils. We know that their two marquee UFA's, Marty Brodeur and Zach Parise, are eligible to sign elsewhere at noon and it's unclear what they'll do. We know that Devs GM Lou Lamoriello met with Parise last night and that Zach is in his agent's offices in Mississauga today, prepared to listen to offers if he can't get a deal with Jersey. As for Marty, the Devs don't seem to have the same ardor to keep him, and that's too bad, but he's 40 and Parise is 27. Will Marty go elsewhere? On Twitter, RDS's Renaud Lavoie says Brodeur could be bound for one of the Florida clubs. Last night Chris Kuc of The Chicago Tribune tweeted that Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman also seemed interested. It will be the end of an era if Brodeur leaves -- and he had to leave some day -- but it will be something more if both of these guys leave, not to mention the possibility the Devils could also lose Bryce Salvador. It's hard to get a true read on the Devils' financial situation (I wrote about that not long ago) other than to recognize that if they were in good shape, these guys would likely be back in the fold. Righting the Devils' finances may come too late, however, to keep any or all of them and that would drastically change a team that was the Eastern Conference representative the the Stanley Cup Final. So this bears watching. By the way, Larry Brooks of The New York Post has an interesting story this morning on the background to Brodeur's situation.

Another big story is the pending free agency of Ryan Suter, the excellent Nashville defenseman. He has promised he'd listen to offers and then get back to Predators GM David Poile so his status may not be resolved quickly. He's not hanging out with his agent as his pal Parise is; he's home while his agent does the work out of his office. We'll see if the gossip that has Parise and Suter going to the same club has any validity to it, but my guess is that if it does go down that way, it's going to be by happenstance rather than a planned hook-up by the two players. These guys are both All-Stars, clearly the most talented players available, and there will be no shortage of offers for them.

Shane Doan, the Coyotes captain, is another UFA who will get lots of interest, but the buzz on him this morning is that he's postponing a decision until July 9. That's the earliest that Greg Jamison can gauge whether he'll be able to purchase the Coyotes and Doan doesn't want to leave. But he won't stay if the team looks like it's going to be in limbo (or perhaps moving) for next season.

Other items of note: The Penguins are supposed for formally sign Sidney Crosby to his new mega-deal today, 12 years is what was reported for the same average salary as now, but the earlier years of the deal average $11 mil annually, which is an increase. And Carolina has signed Jordan Staal to a new deal. It's for 10 years and $60 million.

We'll keep updating as we go, but here's a tune to put us in the mood for free agency:

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