While those in the media and fans on Twitter are impatiently awaiting a Zach Parise decision on where the star forward will end up, a handful of other free agents in the NHL are waiting to see where Parise and Nashville's star defender Ryan Suter will land in order to set the market. (Many are also chastising Parise for having the temerity for taking his time to make a life-changing decision.) Parise has returned home to Minnesota and spoke with the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Michael Russo about the process of selecting his new home. Parise has not yet made a decision on his future and will continue weighing all options. You can bet that Jaromir Jagr is waiting on seeing where Parise goes, according to TSN's Darren Dreger. The trade scenarios with Columbus's Rick Nash and Anaheim's Bobby Ryan should also clear up once Parise and Jagr sign.
Reports out of Nashville have Ryan Suter fielding offers from several teams, with Detroit being one of the frontrunners in addition to Suter staying put with the Predators. Where Suter lands should have a massive effect on the future of Nashville's Shea Weber, a restricted free agent. The Predators re-signed star netminder Pekka Rinne this past season, but conventional wisdom should suggest that the team will have a hard team keeping Weber beyond next season if Suter departs. What NHL general manager will have the brass to sign Weber to an offer sheet?
Teams that lose out on the Ryan Suter sweepstakes can be consoled by the fact that Matt Carle has a similar skill set albeit with a little less production the past few seasons than Suter. Carle has missed just two games the last three seasons, making him one of the few Philadelphia Flyers blue liners than can actually say that. Carle has averaged 34.3 points the last three seasons with a plus-53 rating over that span. He can move the puck out of the zone and run the point on the power-play. Close to one-third of his 34 points last season came on the man-advantage. He is a player whose offensive numbers are similar to those of Suter's, but critics do not feel he is as adept defensively as Suter. Neither player is a big-goal scorer, but they are capable of putting up tremendous assist numbers, similar to former Devil and Red Wing Brian Rafalski.
Suter is clearly the defenseman prize of the free agent class. The Wisconsin native has cracked 30 points in each of the last five seasons and notched a career-best 46 points with a plus-15 rating this past season and 25 power-play points, over half of his total. Suter has not come in under 37 points in any of the last four seasons and can certainly eat minutes, as Suter logged 26:30 per-game, most of it besides Shea Weber. This brings us to the burning question of how Suter will handle life away from Weber. Most assume that Weber will still be productive without Suter, but that Suter may not rack up the numbers the way he did this past season. Strangely enough, Suter could be a value if he lands somewhere other than Nashville next season in drafts this fall, not a huge value, but certainly a round or two later than he would have gone should he stay in Nashville. Suter is one of the second-tier defenders in fantasy hockey that go after the big-goal scorers such as Weber, Zdeno Chara and Erik Karlsson have been snagged.
Statistically, Suter and Carle are not too different, but Carle could be more of a value in terms of salary for whatever team lands him should they miss out on Suter. Carle can be had several rounds after Suter in most drafts and his production is just a rung or two under the Nashville star. If Detroit loses out on Suter, expect them to make a run at Carle, who isn't as solid defensively as Suter, but can certainly move the puck.