Members of the Hockey Independent crew have come together again for another series of offseason articles for your reading pleasure. The contributing authors to today’s piece will be Cris Cohen (New York Rangers), Seth Levin (New Jersey Devils), Alex Muscat (Detroit Red Wings) and myself, Benjamin Woodward (Boston Bruins). Each of us have taken on the role of armchair general manager for the sake of this feature. Over the next couple of weeks, leading into the July 1 opening of free agency, we will take a look at some of the players that are either set to hit the open market or have been rumored to be available via trade. Each member of the HI roundtable will propose a deal for the player that he/she believes to be reasonable for both squads.
Today’s discussion is centered around New Jersey Devils’ captain Zach Parise.
Zach Parise (LW) — New Jersey Devils — Age: 27 — Career: 194 Goals, 216 Assists, +57
Seth Levin (@levinakl) – New Jersey Devils — 7 Years, $50 Million ($7.142 AAV)
– I expect Zach Parise to remain a New Jersey Devil and sign a long-term contract for a variety of different reasons. While some may believe this is just a homer pick, I think the Devils are the perfect fit for Parise. First, he already is established and comfortable in New Jersey, loves the town he currently resides in during the season, has a great relationship with head coach Peter DeBoer and teammates and the current style of play in New Jersey is also a great fit for Parise’s skill set. The high pressure fore-checking and attack mode the Devils play under DeBoer gives Parise a chance to play to his strengths in all three zones and maximize production. He also is already team captain and has established a great working relationship in the locker room.
I believe all of these things are things Zach values greatly, as well as the respect he has for GM Lou Lamoriello to consistently field winning teams. Because of these reasons, my guess is that Zach Parise will end up staying in New Jersey with a contract of either 7 years-$50 million (without front loading) or 12-years $78 million (with front loading). While I think the ownership’s financial issues have been overstated a bit, I think they could impact the final deal some, which is why I included two different potential contract scenarios. I also expect Parise to wait until after July 1st to see what offers are out there and make an informed decision, but in the end, I expect him to sign with the New Jersey Devils. The only other teams I even see with a chance are the Detroit Red Wings and possibly the Minnesota Wild.
Benjamin Woodward (@BWoodward_HI) – Minnesota Wild — 11 Years, $83 Million ($7.545 AAV)
– With rumors beginning to run rampant with speculation of Zach Parise possibly bolting for the greener pastures of a rival Atlantic division franchise, pundits have pegged Pittsburgh and Philadelphia as the new favorites to land the former United States Olympic hero.
However, I’m going to stick with what I’ve said since January (see: deal #1); Zach Parise will return home to Minneapolis and sign with the hometown Minnesota Wild. Reports began to surface earlier this month that general manager Chuck Fletcher was preparing to offer the 27-year-old superstar a massive 13-year mega deal worth between seven and eight million dollars per season. While I doubt the length of the contract will surpass the ten-year mark, I believe the Wild are still the front-runners to land Parise.
For Parise, signing in Minnesota will come with the chance to return home and provide NHL relevancy to the state of hockey. It will also come with the opportunity to join a team on the rise, one that was 20-8-4 (good for the best record in the NHL) on December 15 before a plethora of injuries crippled their lineup. With captain Mikko Koivu, Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi already in the fold and youngsters Mikael Granlund (who is widely considered to be the best prospect in the game) and Jonas Brodin set to make the jump to the NHL, the Wild look to be in an excellent spot moving forward. With the addition of Parise, and perhaps a few extra pieces on the back-end, the Wild will have to be considered legitimate contenders for the Western Conference crown.
Alex Muscat (@AlexMuscat73) – Detroit Red Wings — 8 years, $68 Million ($8.500 AAV)
– With the Detroit Red Wings having plenty of cap space, it would be a major coup if they sign Zach Parise, who is going to get paid. He’ll command a six or seven-year contract worth between $8-9 million per season. Parise set career highs with 45 goals and 49 assists in 2008-09, but his all-around play last year, especially in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs increased his stock rise even higher. Imagine a one-two punch of Parise and Pavel Datsyuk. It would pretty darn scary, but I already like it. Todd Bertuzzi has been Datsyuk’s left winger, but the only thing that Bertuzzi’s useful in is the shootout.
With Jiri Hudler and Tomas Holmstrom as unrestricted free agents, Hudler is going to test the market, and it’s ultimately up to Red Wings’ management if they’re going to re-sign the 39 year-old Holmstrom. My guess is that “Homer” isn’t coming back, which means that he’s the last link to the 1996-97 and 1997-98 championship teams. It’s the Red Wings turn to turn the page and move forward.
Not only the will Red Wings be in mix, but teams like the Pittsburgh Penguins and Minnesota Wild will also make a major push for Parise. Perhaps, NHL general managers and team owners will be in front of Parise’s house raising a boom box playing “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel, just like John Cusack did in the movie “Say Anything”. The Parise Sweepstakes, which begins July 1, is going to be very interesting, but I see the Red Wings as the winners.
Cris Cohen (@cc_927) – New Jersey Devils — 9 Years, $ 65 Million ($7.222 AAV)
– The New Jersey Devils currently have 7 forwards, both goalies and two defensemen becoming UFAs this offseason, including Zach Parise. (Defenseman Mark Fayne is the lone RFA on the roster.) Per capgeek, with the expected $70.3 million ceiling they have about $28 million on space to round out their 2012-13 roster.
Next year it gets slightly interesting. Patrik Elias and Travis Zajac are among five Devils forwards due to become UFAs. Martin Brodeur may or may not want to return and he might need to be replaced.
That’s a lot of potential personnel turnover on the horizon for a team that just went to the Cup final. If the Devils can come up with the money, are all of Parise’s ties to the team and seeing the promise of the next generation in players like Adam Larsson and Adam Henrique enough to make him think the Devils can contend and they give him the best chance to win as he reaches his prime playing years?
The Penguins were major movers at the draft Friday night, trading Jordan Staal and Zybnek Michalek, clearing cap space to give them the room to potentially make another major move. An already ultra-competitive Atlantic Division is going to get even tougher. It may sound funny to say for a team with still unresolved financial issues, but the Devils can’t afford not to retain Parise. Lou Lamoriello hasn’t become known as one of the best GMs in the NHL for nothing, and I think he convinces Parise to remain a Devil.
About the Author: Boston Bruins writer for Hockey Independent. Have written for The Hockey Guys and SB Nation Boston. Follow me on Twitter @_BWoodward or shoot me an email at BWoodward.HI@gmail.com.