Top Five Storylines of the NHL Offseason

Weber, Parise Possibly on the Move?

Yahoo Contributor Network

Another NHL season is over, and for the first time the Los Angeles Kings are the Stanley Cup Champions. The end of the season means it's time to focus on what the summer has in store for the league. Here are the top five storylines to follow.

1. Will Zach Parise stay a New Jersey Devil?

When the Devils gave Ilya Kovalchuk a 17-year, $102 million deal in the summer of 2010, it sparked talk that the Devils might not be able to retain star forward Zach Parise when he hits free agency. Now that time has come. Parise is an unrestricted free agent, and though the Devils made him their captain this season he could very well be tempted by a big-money offer from a team like the Detroit Red Wings or Minnesota Wild, in his home state. Parise might be more tenable to staying in Newark after the Devils' run to the Stanley Cup Finals, and has said he would like to stay there, but money could be the deciding factor. A Parise move could change the balance of power in the NHL.

2. Does Shea Weber sign long-term with the Nashville Predators?

Star defenseman Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators played on a one-year contract this season, signed in arbitration last summer. This summer, he will become a restricted free agent on July 1, meaning teams could try to sign him to an offer sheet that the Predators could match. If they decide not to match an offer, the Preds will receive compensation in the form of draft picks. Weber could also sign long-term with Nashville, or elect to go to arbitration again. The Predators also have number-two defenseman Ryan Suter to worry about, as he is an unrestricted free agent this summer and will likely test the market.

3. How does the Tim Thomas saga unfold?

Last summer, Tim Thomas was the reigning Vezina winner and Conn Smythe winner. The Boston Bruins goaltender was the toast of the league. Now he has said he plans to sit out next season. Already under the gun for skipping the ex-champs' trip to the White House for political reasons, Thomas says he would like to spend more time with his family. Others say he is using the threat of skipping a season to force the Bruins to trade him to a contender, as it was already possible the Bs were planning on moving Thomas to make room for Tuukka Rask in net. Formerly a hero in Boston, Thomas may never play there again.

4. Will hockey fever stay with Los Angeles?

The Kings became stars in their own right in Hollywood with their Cup triumph. But will they still have the attention of LA when next season starts? The City of Angels is known for having a collectively short attention span, and if the Kings want to have the same fan support next season they will have to keep LA interested. Expect the Cup to be all over LA when it isn't travelling with players. It would be great for the league if the Kings can be a constant attraction in Los Angeles.

5. There can't be another lockout coming, right?

The NHL nearly died out after a lockout killed the 2004-2005 season. The current Collective Bargaining Agreement ends this summer, and so far it looks like there could be issues. Both sides, the players and owners, are avoiding doom-and-gloom talk, but this could get nervewracking. The NHL simply cannot afford another lockout, even with the progress made since the last one. If there is a lockout, the previous four storylines might not matter.

Scott Frano is a longtime Boston Bruins fan and a hockey fan in general.

Sources:

"Speculation negative about NHL CBA negotitations", Stephen Whyno, Washington Times

"What's next for Shea Weber?', Lyle Richardson, The Hockey News

"After Run to Finals, Devils and Parise Consider Their Futures", Dave Caldwell, New York Times

"GM: Bruins don't expect Tim Thomas", James Murphy, ESPN Boston

View Comments