NHL free agency: Wild land Parise, Suter

Reports from credible sources say both top free agents Zach Parise, a former North Dakota standout, and the top available forward, will be joined by the top available defenseman, former Badgers standout Ryan Suter of Nashville in St. Paul.

If so, this is a HUGE day for the Minnesota Wild franchise. You may want to buy your season tickets now, because they will sell quickly once this is confirmed. FYI, The Wild will need that ticket revenue to pay those two.

ESPN reported both deals are for 13 years and $98 million, which locks them up through the 2024-25 season and would carry a salary cap hit of $7.538 million per campaign.

Here is an updated version of the story from nhl.com. Here is some excellent detail from the Wild beat writer, who also suggests how both their significant others played a big role in coming to the Twin Cities.

Monday reading: LaLeggia, Schultz, APR scores, WMU, Mankato

This graphic shows the increased number of former collegians playing in the NHL.    Courtesy College Hockey, Inc.

About 60 future NHL Draft hopefuls were shown how going to college often leads to the NHL.

Let the Justin Schultz free agency derby begin. Pittsburgh looks ready to make a run at former UND star Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter.

DU’s Joey LaLeggia proves it never hurts to have friends in high places. His friendship with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins led the Oilers to selecting the 5-foot-8 defenseman in the fifth round Saturday. This could be a real nice pick for Edmonton who may have found a good two-way deal player.

Here are the Division I hockey APRs with Brown, Boston University, Dartmouth, New Hampshire, Notre Dame, Princeton and St. Lawrence all receiving perfect scores. CC was tied for 16th with RPI with a 994, well above the 982 average which was second in NCAA behind only men’s gymnastics.

The scores, which are based on eligibility and retention of scholarship players, include data from the 2007-08, 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11 academic years.

Here is a feature on a Western Michigan signee who the Red Wings hope develop into a physical player under Andy Murray’s tutelage. Michael McKee racked up 237 penalty minutes in 59 games last season.

Here is a look at MSU-Mankato coaches’ salaries.

Wednesday reading: Civitarese, CHL, Bachman, NHL playoffs

Former Tiger David Civitarese is featured in an article about the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears.

Here are some details about the new CHL franchise beginning playing this fall at the Denver Coliseum.

Boston College celebrated its third title in five years.

The final Inside College Hockey power rankings.

This is a list of the latest early departures from Division I.

Here is an updated story on Richard Bachman, who is one of the 17 Americans on the U.S. preliminary roster for the world championships team next month.

Here are the NHL playoff match-ups. Play begins Wednesday night. Jaden Schwartz (Blues) and Jack Hillen (Predators) are the only former Tigers on a NHL playoff roster at the moment. Others may be called up from the AHL as their teams are eliminated or as NHL injuries mount. Playoffs start in that league April 15.

Wednesday reading: Weekly honors, UNO rink, J. Schwartz, WCHA women, AFA honor

Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (35) and defenseman Jack Hillen stop a Kings shot during the first period Monday. / Sanford Myers / The Tennessean

Two Gophers were honored by the WCHA this week.

UNO coach Dean Blais is trying to jump start the school’s effort to get its own 8,000-seat arena on campus. No doubt, such a move would be huge for the program, especially from a financial viewpoint (concessions, parking revenue, etc.).

Here’s a look at Wisconsin’s road playoff possibilities.

CC assistant Eric Rud was checking out the NAHL’s top prospects recently.

From stltoday.com: Blues GM Doug Armstrong believes Colorado College forward Jaden Schwartz is close to NHL-ready, and why not? He was captain of Team Canada at the World Junior Championships. He has scored 12 goals and added 24 assists in 26 college games this season.

Colorado College has won just one of its last six games. At 16-14-2 overall and 13-12-1 in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, Schwartz’s team is on the outside of the NCAA’s 16-team national tourney bracket looking in.

Perhaps Colorado College can win the WCHA tourney and the automatic berth that goes with it. Or perhaps Jaden will have to decide whether to turn pro earlier than he expected.

Schwartz is a skilled player, but his character is what sets him apart. He appears to be a natural leader. “When you play, you want to make the players around you better,” he told the Colorado Springs Gazette earlier this season. “Whether teams are on you more or not, that’s something you’ve got to battle through. Every player has been through that at different levels.”

Pine Creek graduate Emily West’s play will be critical for the Minnesota women in the WCHA Frozen Faceoff (league semifinals and championship) this weekend in Duluth.

This sick little boy has been inspired by the Brown Bears and they have been motivated by him.

From AFA sports information:

Air Force sophomore Jason Torf was named the Atlantic Hockey Association Goalie of the Month for February as he helped lead Air Force to a 5-2-1 record and the AHA regular-season championship.

Torf, from Hermosa Beach, Calif., posted a 1.11 goals-against average and a .956 saves percentage in the month. He recorded four shutouts in eight starts as he blanked RIT (3-0 on Feb. 3), Niagara (2-0 on Feb. 10), Mercyhurst (8-0 on Feb. 17) and Robert Morris (3-0 on Feb. 25). Three of his four shutouts came against teams ranked in the top four in the league. Torf led AFA to the league title by stopping all 25 shots he faced in the final regular-season game at Robert Morris, Feb. 25. The night before, he made a season high 35 saves against the Colonials.

After missing almost three months and 14 games with a groin injury, Torf has come back to be among the national leaders in every goaltending category. In all games, he ranks third in the nation in goals-against average (1.65), seventh in shutouts (4) and eighth in saves percentage (.931)

The Atlantic Hockey monthly honor was his first of the season and second of his career. Air Force, 17-9-7 overall and 15-6-6 in the league, earned a bye in the first round of the playoffs. The Falcons will host an AHA quarterfinal series, March 9-11, at the Cadet Ice Arena.

In the pros: Packers fan Hillen settling into role in Nashville

After former Tiger Jack Hillen was a healthy scratch Tuesday at Colorado, I’m happy see there’s this NHL.com article about his unsung contributions to Nashville.

Updated Tuesday reading: Radio show, Hobey balloting, pros

Former Tiger Jack Hillen is expected to play tonight at Colorado. Take advantage of this chance to see him live.

The monthly Scott Owens radio show is tonight from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at McCabe’s Tavern, downtown Colorado Springs. CC captain Nick Dineen and new NCHC commissioner Jim Scherr will be the guests.

Here’s the Gazette’s weekend wrap-up.

Fan balloting for the Hobey Baker Award is underway. Get to it people.

Former Tigers Richard Bachman won the ECHL alumnus award for December.  Joey Crabb garnered some measured praise from this fan blogger.

In the pros: Connelly, Hillen, Prosser

Nashville Predators' Jack Hillen, right, takes a shot against St. Louis Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak, of the Czech Republic, as the Blues' Jason Arnott (44) defends during the first period of an NHL hockey game Friday, Dec. 30, 2011, in St. Louis. - Sarah Conard /AP Photo

Former Tiger Brian Connelly recorded an assist in a loss for the AHL Rockford IceHogs (Blackhawks affiliate) and a goal in another setback.

He is only one point (28, 24 assists) behind Mark Barberio of Norfolk (29 points, 26 assists) for the league lead among defensemen.

Nate Prosser was in the middle of things for the Wild during a snippy 4-3 win over Edmonton.