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To acquire negotiating rights, or not to acquire negotiating rights?

Jun 1, 2012, 2:10 PM EDT

Ryan Suter Getty Images

Why would a potential unrestricted free agent sign with a team before July 1 when he could consider all possible offers?

That’s what ESPN’s Craig Custance wanted to know when he spoke to Scott Howson, the Columbus general manager who acquired the rights to James Wisniewski from Montreal last June 29, two days before the defenseman was set to become unrestricted.

Howson, of course, was successful in his pursuit – which cost the Jackets a fifth-round pick – locking up Wisniewski for six years and $33 million before any other interested parties could bid.

“I don’t think we would have got him without [acquiring his rights beforehand],” Howson said. “At 12 o’clock [on July 1], it would have started and Columbus would have been just another team…It was important for a team like ours, a city like ours, to get in front of James early and let him meet us.”

Said Wisniewski after he met with the Jackets and decided to sign: “I felt like they really wanted me, and I want to play for an organization that wants me.”

In 2009, the Calgary Flames pulled off a successful sales job of their own, convincing Jay Bouwmeester to sign a big contract after paying the Panthers for the right to a brief, exclusive negotiating window.

Granted, the risk doesn’t always pay off, as the Flyers and Penguins found out with Dan Hamhuis and the Islanders with Christian Ehrhoff.

Which brings us to Ryan Suter and Zach Parise – this summer’s two big potential UFAs.

Suppose the Predators and Devils are unable to reach a deal with Suter and Parise, respectively. Would, say, the Red Wings roll the dice and offer Nashville a pick/prospect/player for one (or both) of their rights?

According to Detroit GM Ken Holland: “Yeah, absolutely. If the price is right and it’s a player we’re interested in.”

And to gain a bit of leverage, maybe the Wings (or any team that acquired their rights) could offer Suter/Parise a big, tempting contract, with the only stipulation it was off the table at 11:59am on July 1.

A risky tactic, yes. But if you’ve done a good job selling a player on the opportunity, there’s a good chance he’ll sign. If not, you probably won’t get him anyway.

Related: Preds GM Poile on Suter meeting: “Very, very good”

  1. sknut - Jun 1, 2012 at 2:26 PM

    In the case of Suter Russo of the startribune brought up the same question. I think it can be a good idea to get the rights, its harder for the guy to say no when you can apply the full court press. Would a 2nd be fair for Nashville and New Jersey it seems fair to me. There are too many teams with cap space and a team isn’t going to want to miss out on their player.

    • lordfletcher - Jun 1, 2012 at 3:10 PM

      a second round pick is pretty high, but the Wild could care less if they gave NJ their Washington pick back to them. Not exactly sure where they fall in line in the second round, mid-late #50 ????. If that ensured us getting Parise, no one would think twice about that pick, even if it turned into an elite player down the road, 49 other GM’s past on that prospect and multiple times.

      As for Suter, Nashville might not take any offers. They have seemd very confident throughout this process that Suter will re-sign. I personally do not think he will and that Nashville has handled his contract poorly as in forward / future of the club…. I mentioned below a prospect and later round pick could get Suter’s rights but I just don’t know if Nashville will play ball with a trade, especially not with a team like Detroit. I would have to think that would be their least likely trading partner. Detroit needs Suter to hit the FA market

  2. lordfletcher - Jun 1, 2012 at 2:48 PM

    Minnesota (or anyteam) would be dumb to not offer whatever they can as later round picks (anything after the first round), to obtain exclusive signing rights.

    I would send the Devils the pick they got in the Zidlicky trade right back to them for a chance at Parise, and I would offer Nashville a lower end prospect like T.Cuma and a 4th round pick.

  3. bcisleman - Jun 1, 2012 at 3:09 PM

    A lot of folks misunderstood the Ehrhoff deal. It wasn’t that Ehrhoff didn’t want to come to the Island. It was that Garth wouldn’t offer the massively front-loaded 10 year term Ehrhoff wanted. Garth was able to quickly flip the 4th rounder he gave up to Vancouver for Buffalo’s 4th–7 behind the Isles’ original 4th round spot.

  4. flyersgoalscoredby88 - Jun 1, 2012 at 3:23 PM

    I would say Hamhuis paid off for the Flyers…we got Pittsburgh’s 3rd round pick in exchange for sending Ryan Parent anywhere outside of Philadelphia. I’d make that trade every day.

  5. greatminnesotasportsmind - Jun 1, 2012 at 4:16 PM

    Here’s the thing, your naive to think GM’s aren’t talking to their agents right now. If team A trades for exclusive negotiating rights and is offering him X amount of years at X amount, but that player (read agent) knows he can get that and a little more from B on July 1, he’s gonna wait until July 1 to sign.

  6. polegojim - Jun 1, 2012 at 4:27 PM

    Some teams are fearful of Detroit’s cap/cash room and history – these guys may actually get higher than typical offers so they DON’T become Red Wings….

    But… as always…. they’d look great in the Winged Wheel… right lordfletch? ; )

    • lordfletcher - Jun 1, 2012 at 5:01 PM

      You are correct

      -Wild fan

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