Free Agency Begins: Will This Be The Craziest Market Yet?

We'll be bringing you a great interview later today, but as the free agency floodgates have opened (9 a.m. Pacific/noon Eastern), here's a look at some of the big stories around the NHL.

The temporary cap is set at $70.2 million. However, no one expects that to be the cap ceiling when the new CBA is finally in place. How much will teams spend this summer? Some need to reach the cap floor -- but where will that floor be?

Despite this uncertainty, demand for quality players is high, and the number of free agents is low. It looks like a recipe for another over-heated market. Will it be the silliest silly season ever? We'll see.

Zach Parise: Another $100 Million Dollar Man?

  • The Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Minnesota Wild are all set to make big pitches to the best forward in the free agency market. He is holed up in his agent's office, awaiting delegations. Expect a signing bonus of $12M to be in the works.
  • The Kings have always admired him, but I suspect they've decided "Quick or Parise, not both." The big splash idea is being downplayed. They are keeping the band together.
  • Eric T. looks at Parise's declining production and argues that whoever wins the Great Zach Sweepstakes could have a problem on their hands if they go long-term.

Everyone Needs Defensemen: Suter, Carle, Garrison Will Make Bank

  • Who wouldn't love to add Ryan Suter to their blueline? The race for him will be as furious as the one for Parise. Pittsburgh wants to land both. The Red Wings would, too. Keep an eye on this to see if he bolsters another strong contender.
  • After Suter, we have the two lucky runners-up. Mirtle said he's hearing $5 million for Jason Garrison, and $6 million for Matt Carle. Whoa mama. It's times like these that you appreciate a stable of defense prospects.
  • There's a big dropoff in d-men after that. Teams won't be able to address all their needs via free agency, so it looks like the trade market will heat up.

What About Other Forwards?

  • Chances of Penner returning are now looking up. I like this news. His shooting percentage should rebound, and he said he'd take less money to stay. Could it be a short-term, "show me" deal?
  • Scott Parse has recovered from surgery and is a free agent. In the few games he had with the Kings, he produced. Where does Scooter wind up?
  • Former Coyote Ray Whitney is hitting the market. He would be a good pickup for many -- at 40 years old, he's still got it. Shane Doan will wait until after July 8th to get more clarity on the Coyotes' ownership situation.
  • There's a lot of flak thrown Alex Semin's way, but he's one of the best scorers available. The market is thin. I wouldn't expect him to go cheaply.
  • Some of you mentioned 29-year-old P.A. Parenteau as a target. He's an interesting winger for sure. Here, Lighthouse Hockey graded his 2011-12 season. He got to play with Tavares, but had a high number of primary assists.
  • CBS Sports' free agent tracker is a good way to follow the top 50 names. Jagr and Sullivan are still out there.

Goalie Market: No, The Kings Don't Have To Hurry To Move Jonathan Bernier

Here is a list of free agent goalies. As you can see, not many options there for teams who want a long term #1.

Would now be a good time to get something for Bernier, then?

Speculation is ramping up that the Kings "must" move Bernier now that Quick is going to be locked up long term. LA writers have thrown cold water on this. He's still signed cheaply for one year, and an RFA after that. Every team needs a solid tandem in case of injury. They'll move him sometime, but there's no need to rush.

Even if the Kings aren't a big player in the market, we'll be keeping an eye on what moves our rivals make.

Buckle up. Let the madness begin!