Anything Is Possible On July 1, But LA Kings Not Expected To Be Big Players In Unrestricted Free Agent Market

New Jersey Devils forward Zach Parise is the top prize
in the 2012 unrestricted free agent frenzy.
Photo: Noah Graham/NHLI via Getty Images and the Los Angeles Kings

LOS ANGELES — On this, the eve of the Stanley Cup leaving town for the next six to eight weeks, as it begins its tour with Los Angeles Kings players during their “days with the Cup,” it is also the day of the “feeding frenzy,” otherwise known as the first day that National Hockey League teams can sign unrestricted free agents.

The grand prize out there this summer is forward Zach Parise, who is expected to get big offers from the Minnesota Wild, Pittsburgh Penguins, and the Detroit Red Wings, in addition to his current team, the New Jersey Devils.

Other big names out there are defenseman Ryan Suter (Nashville Predators), and forward Shane Doan (Phoenix Coyotes).

Kings players who are unrestricted free agents are left wing Dustin Penner, along with prospects Ray Kaunisto (forward; was not given a qualifying offer), Patrick Mullen (defenseman), and Jeff Zatkoff (goaltender).

Kings forwards Trent Hunter and Ethan Moreau (retired; now a scout for the Montreal Canadiens) are also unrestricted free agents, along with right wing Scott Parse, who will not be re-signed.

There has been a lot of chatter among Kings faithful over the past year about the possibility of seeing Parise in a Kings jersey in the 2012-13 season.

The only problem with that is that goaltender Jonathan Quick’s just-signed ten-year contract extension kicks in next season, and they will have to sign up to six players, including defenseman Slava Voynov, to contract extensions, eating up a large amount of their available salary cap space.

Left wing Dwight King must also sign a contract extension this summer.

Given the high price that Parise will demand—don’t think for a second that he will sign for a “discount” with the Kings just because they are the defending Stanley Cup Champions—it seems highly unlikely that he would end up with the Kings.

Expect the Kings to dip their toes in the water to see what the price will be for Parise, and probably for Doan. But beyond that, it seems far more likely that they will look at talented, but much more reasonably priced players, especially left wings, including their own Dustin Penner.

Should the Kings decide they want to re-sign Penner, look for it to be an incentive-laden, one-year deal.

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