- Associated Press - Sunday, July 1, 2012

Ryan Suter and Zach Parise chose to take some time to sort through offers from a slew of suitors on the first day of NHL free agency.

Suter’s agent, Neil Sheehy, told The Associated Press that his client wouldn’t make a decision on Sunday and didn’t expect one from him soon.

Parise, meanwhile, said he thinks he’ll make a decision by Monday after opting not to sign a deal to stay with New Jersey and becoming a free agent.

“I’m not at liberty to say right now who’s in or anything like that,” Parise told reporters. “But just because it got to noon, by no means does that say that the Devils aren’t one of my top teams.”

Parise’s agents, Don Meehan and Wade Arnott, didn’t allow teams to have face-to-face meetings with the star forward despite at least one being in the area that was hoping to have an audience with him.

“He has narrowed the list of teams to a small select group,” Meehan wrote in an email to The AP. “The Devils are still in consideration.”

While Suter and Parise waited to make a move, P.A. Parenteau was among the many NHL free agents to accept offers in the opening hours of free agency. Parenteau, a 29-year-old forward coming off a 67-point season with the New York Islanders, signed a four-year contract with Colorado just hours after hitting the market.

Detroit coach Mike Babcock traveled to Toronto to be part of the franchise’s planned pitch to Parise.

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

The Red Wings, though, had to cancel their plans to send a contingent to talk with Parise in person.

“I called Don Meehan at 12:01 and heard back from him at about 12:30 and he said based upon the phone calls, it would almost be physically impossible to meet with all the interested teams,” Detroit general manager Ken Holland said in a telephone interview. “We were prepared to meet with them, but we can to cancel our plans.”

Holland confirmed he made offers to both Suter and Parise, the best defenseman and forward on the market.

Detroit, though, isn’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.

Carolina Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford confirmed he called agents for Parise and Suter to offer deals.

“We’re just playing a waiting game,” Rutherford said.

He’s not alone.

Teams will have to wait before simply finding out if they can have a face-to-face meeting with Suter.

Sheehy fielded “countless phone calls, emails and messages” from teams hoping to sign his coveted client. Sheey planned to respond to each team to gather more information before presenting options to Suter and deciding whether to meet with interested clubs.

New Jersey attempted to re-sign Parise and Nashville tried to keep Suter before they hit the market, but the Devils and Predators ended up being relegated to competing with other offers. Parise and Suter are both 27, potentially entering the prime of their careers.

“Sutes is in an enviable position that he has got everybody coming after him and the money obviously is going to be whatever he wants it to be,” Predators general manager David Poile told reporters Sunday. “I’m hopeful that he is going make his decision based on his team and his teammates and the city of Nashville compared to everything else that is out there.”

Teams seeking a short-term answer in net may make offers to 40-year-old goaltender Martin Brodeur, who, like Parise and Suter, has been with only one NHL team. The three-time Stanley Cup champion and four-time Vezina Trophy winner 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 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.

Florida agreed to a two-year deal with defenseman Filip Kuba because the Panthers expected to lose free agent Jason Garrison on their blue line. Garrison got a six-year contract from the Vancouver Canucks later in the day.

The Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings kept forward Dustin Penner with a one-year contract. Tampa Bay agreed to a $7.5 million, two-year deal with defenseman Sami Salo.

Shane Doan, Alexander Semin, Matt Carle, Olli Jokinen, Jaromir Jagr and Jiri Hudler were among the players who began the day on the market in the top-heavy free agent class of 2012.


AP Sports Writer Joedy McCreary in Raleigh, N.C., contributed to this report.


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

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