The Zach Parise derby may have turned into a two-day decathlon, but the Kings were realistic about their chances with the New Jersey Devils free-agent star forward, calling the odds of signing him “way too long.”
An official with knowledge of the situation but not authorized to comment said Sunday that the team had learned from the pursuit of Brad Richards last summer — he landed with the New York Rangers — and was focusing elsewhere. That focus could end up on Phoenix Coyotes captain Shane Doan, who has two big fans in Kings Coach Darryl Sutter and Kings President and General Manager Dean Lombardi.
Doan, however, is holding off on his plans until July 9, hoping to get some clarity on the Coyotes’ muddled ownership situation. By then, the two marquee free agents, Parise and Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Suter, will have made their decisions, and perhaps the Columbus Blue Jackets will have traded Rick Nash.
Parise and Suter could decide on Monday, the second day of NHL free agency. The Kings were of the understanding they were still in on Parise, as of Sunday night, but were not optimistic.
They moved forward on another front, signing left wing Dustin Penner to a one-year deal worth $3.25 million, keeping the Stanley Cup-winning team nearly intact. He opted not to explore free agency.
“I wanted to be on a championship team,” Penner said on a conference call. “When I was with Anaheim, I kind of flew the coop early. I didn’t get the experience to be part of a championship team the following year.”
Also, goalie Jonathan Quick, who agreed to a 10-year, $58-million deal last week, signed his contract, according to his agent. His deal is front-loaded, paying him $7 million in each of the first seven years and then dropping to $3.5 million, $3 million and $2.5 million in the final three years.
The Ducks were busier on Day 1. They signed former Dallas Stars defenseman Sheldon Souray to a three-year deal worth $11 million, ex-Montreal Canadiens enforcer Brad Staubitz to a two-year, $1.275-million contract, former Carolina Hurricanes veteran defenseman Bryan Allen to a three-year contract at $3.5 million per year and defenseman Jordan Hendry to a one-year, two-way deal.
They lost enforcer George Parros, who signed a two-year deal with the Florida Panthers, and defenseman Sheldon Brookbank, who went to the Chicago Blackhawks, also for two years.
“We wanted to get some more experience and size back there,” Ducks GM Bob Murray said of Souray. “We have a number of young defensemen on our team and I don’t feel we’ve supported our younger defensemen with enough size and oomph in the last couple of years.”
Souray, 35, rebounded last season in Dallas after winding up in the wilderness of the minor leagues, in 2010-11, following a falling-out with the Edmonton Oilers. He has lived in Malibu in the off-seasons since 2001, and his children live in the area.
Said Souray: “Age is just a number. I’m feeling good. I’ve trained hard in the summer. I work out with [Chris] Chelios. He played till 48. So I look at him and I’ve got about 13, 14 years on him. So I feel like I’m all right here.”
This was the first time Murray had spoken with the media since free agent defenseman Justin Schultz signed with the Oilers. Schultz, a Ducks draft choice in 2008, took advantage of a loophole in the collective bargaining agreement.
“I’m more confused more than ever now,” Murray said. “If he had it in his mind that he wanted to play in Canada, OK, I get that. I’m a Canadian too. But Eric Lindros, when he didn’t want to play in Quebec, he went to his team that drafted him and said, ‘No, I’m not going to play there.’ He allowed that team to make a move to get something for him. And this guy told us numerous times he wanted to play with us. He needed to just tell us the truth.”
Murray called the situation “unfair” to the organization and the Ducks’ fans.
“It’s just wrong,” he said of the loophole. “I sure hope the NHL realizes they dropped the ball big time.”