Parise and Suter holding up free agent market, reaction to Sabres-Stars trade, NHL reduces Torres suspension, Avs on verge of re-signing Johnson, Panthers prospect NHL-ready, and more.

TSN.CA: The NHL free agent market is almost gridlocked awaiting the decisions of top UFAs Zach Parise and Ryan Suter over where they’ll eventually sign.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some fans and pundits are impatient over Parise and Suter taking their time to decide their respective futures, accusing them of holding the free agent and trade market “hostage”, as a number of teams await their decisions.

Folks, that’s not the fault of Parise and Suter. They’re unrestricted free agent, receiving offers rumored to be worth over $100 million each, and are under no deadlines to decide where they could end up playing out the rest of their NHL careers. They’ve earned that right.

It’s been the hype – originated by general managers overpaying for free agent talent, whipped up by the media and blogosphere, and relished by the fans – over “free agent frenzy”which is responsible for the anticipation of big name stars signing on the opening day of free agency. Sometimes, as we saw last summer with Brad Richards, and two years ago with Ilya Kovalchuk, it takes time for them to reach a decision. It’s their futures, not ours, and it’s not their fault if general managers put themselves in positions where they have to wait for those players to sign before moving on with their own plans.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Reaction from Derek Roy and Steve Ott, who were exchanged for each other in last night’s trade between the Sabres and Stars.

Torres suspension reduced.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has reduced the 25-game suspension of Phoenix Coyotes forward Raffi Torres from 25 to 21 games. Torres was suspended for a blindside head shot to Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa, who suffered head injuries as a result. Torres and the NHLPA appealed the suspension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been suspected by a few pundits this was more a political act by Bettman, as a means of proving to the NHLPA the suspension appeal system really does work. Have to wonder what Hossa, an NHLPA member, thinks about this situation.

NHL PRO HOCKEY TALK: The Colorado Avalanche may be close to re-signing defenseman Erik Johnson to a four-or five-year contract extension. The Avalanche will also reportedly lose defenseman Jan Hejda for four-to-six months following wrist surgery.

MIAMI HERALD: Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon believes prospect forward Jonathan Huberdeau, the third overall pick in the 2011 NHL entry draft, is NHL-ready.

BND.COM: The St. Louis Blues have signed defenseman Jeff Woywitka to a one-year, two-way contract.