The NHL’s free agency period opens at 11 a.m. today and there are several former UND players on the open market.
The biggest name on the NHL market this year is former UND All-American Zach Parise. His contract with the New Jersey Devils expired after the 2011-12 season and he’s expected to sign a huge deal this week.
The list of all of UND’s free agents is below with a few thoughts and projections on each player. Keep in mind that restricted free agents are pretty much always signed by their current teams. Unrestricted free agents can end up anywhere.
1. Zach Parise (UFA). In Saturday’s Herald, I listed my top 5 landing spots for Parise. They are: 1. Pittsburgh, 2. New Jersey, 3. Minnesota, 4. Los Angeles, 5. Detroit.
I think Pittsburgh offers Parise the best chance to win immediately as well as the comfort knowing he’ll be playing alongside Sidney Crosby for the next decade. I think there’s still a good chance the Devils could get him back. Minnesota will reportedly offer him a ton of money. The Kings are the champs and have cap space. Detroit can offer some good teammates, but the city and arena are big drawbacks.
2. T.J. Oshie (RFA). Oshie will unquestionably get a one-way deal from the Blues. The only question mark here is the dollar amount and the length.
3. Matt Frattin (RFA). Toronto loves Frattin. You have to figure he will be holding out for a one-way contract and he should get it. He proved he can fit in as a rookie and he dominated the AHL playoffs. Sure, he has to battle back from a knee injury, but I still think he gets the one-way deal. Years and dollar amount will be interesting.
4. Chris Porter (UFA). Porter will seek a one-way contract after spending all of last season in the NHL. He can fit into a third- or fourth-line role with a team. He’s been with St. Louis for his entire pro career. Will be interesting to see if he gets the deal.
5. Taylor Chorney (UFA). Chorney is most likely to get a two-way NHL deal. He will probably look for a place that will give him a good opportunity… and that place might be right back with Edmonton.
6. Chris VandeVelde (RFA). VandeVelde will likely re-sign with Edmonton, which has a very large crop of young, talented forwards. It may be hard to crack the lineup in Edmonton, but VandeVelde offers the Oilers a reliable two-way centerman who wins a lot of draws. His performance in the AHL playoffs may help earn him ice time in Edmonton next season.
7. Jason Blake (UFA). Blake is 38 years old and may not have a lot of years left, but you have to believe that there’s a team out there that could use a veteran forward like Blake. If he gets a contract, it probably won’t be very long and may not be real lucrative.
8. Mike Commodore (UFA). Commodore has been in-and-out of lineups the last two seasons, but still could get an NHL deal as a veteran defenseman. He won’t be able to ink a longterm contract, though.
9. Matt Watkins (UFA). Watkins made his NHL debut with Phoenix last season and the Coyotes seem to like what he’s done in the AHL. I’d look for him to get a two-way NHL deal.
Brian Lee, Tampa Bay — 2 years, one-way, $2.3 million (RFA)
Chay Genoway, Minnesota Wild — 2 years, two-way, undisclosed (RFA)