- Associated Press - Sunday, July 1, 2012

Let the bidding begin.

Zach Parise and Ryan Suter had a long list of suitors hoping to sign them when NHL free agency started Sunday afternoon.

Detroit coach Mike Babcock was in the Toronto area to be part of the franchise’s planned pitch to Parise, the top forward available, and his agent, Wade Arnott.

“We’re going to get in the mix with him and see what we can do,” Babcock told The Associated Press in a telephone interview minutes after teams could begin talks with free agents. “We’re going to do everything we can.”

The Red Wings, with about $18 million in cap space, were also expected to go after Suter, the best defenseman on the market.

Detroit wasn’t the only NHL team with a lot of money to spend in free agency.

The Minnesota Wild posted a message on the team’s Twitter account, announcing they submitted contract offers to Parise and Suter, within the first hour of free agency.

New Jersey attempted to re-sign Parise, but the Devils ended up being relegated to competing with other offers for him.

Suter’s agent, Neil Sheehy, declined to say Sunday which teams expressed an interest in signing his client and added that the defenseman will decide whether he’ll accept an offer quickly or take his time.

Parise and Suter are both 27, potentially entering the prime of their careers.

Teams seeking a short-term answer in net may make offers to 40-year-old goaltender Martin Brodeur, who, like Parise and Suter, has only been with one NHL team. Brodeur has played for the Devils since the 1991-92 season.

The Dallas Stars determined another 40-year-old player, forward Ray Whitney, has enough left to give him to a $9 million, two-year contract in the opening hours of free agency. He had 24 goals and 77 points last season for Phoenix and has 1,003 career points dating to his NHL debut two decades ago with the San Jose Sharks.

“Ray Whitney was among the most productive players in the league last season and showed he remains extremely capable and dangerous,” Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk said. “He’s a winner, a competitor and a leader, and we’re very excited he’ll be a Dallas Star.”

Florida agreed to a two-year deal with defenseman Filip Kuba, who is likely replace free agent Jason Garrison on the Panthers’ blue line.

Shane Doan, Alexander Semin, Olli Jokinen, Jaromir Jagr, Jiri Hudler, Dustin Penner and PA Parenteau are among the players who began the day on the market in the top heavy Parise- and Suter-led free agent class of 2012.


Follow Larry Lage on Twitter at https://www.Twitter.com/larrylage

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