Zach Parise Free Agency Decision: Devils, Penguins, Flyers, Wild
Zach Parise’s free agency decision has no timeline, but where will Parise sign? The Devils, Penguins, Flyers, Wild, Red Wings, and Blackhawks may all be in play.
Zach Parise made an announcement on Monday that he had no announcement to make regarding his future team. The NHL offseason’s biggest free agency decision no longer has a timeline, but it appears his list has been narrowed to a handful of teams. Parise said that resigning with the New Jersey Devils was a priority for him, but with other teams reportedly offering immense contracts, Parise could be reconsidering where his loyalties truly are. The only team on Parise’s list that he’ll admit to is the team he led to a Stanley Cup appearance last season, the New Jersey Devils.
The New York Rangers were ruled out in a locker room interview following the Stanley Cup Finals. Parise’s father, an NHL player himself, suggested the Rangers would be a good fit for his free-agent-to-be son. Parise dismissed those rumors quickly with a laugh and that all-American smile that screams “trust me”. With the Rangers off the board, it’s a shock that two other division rivals appear to be making headlines as possible suitors for the Devils’ captain.
The Philadelphia Flyers are looking to make a splash in free agency this season. They have cap the space to make a move and have reportedly made seismic offers to both of this year’s headline free agents, Parise and Ryan Suter. Parise appears to have his pick between some of the most lucrative franchises in hockey and it would be extremely shocking if he settled for a division rival, particularly in a rivalry as bitter as the Flyers. Parise was famously slew-footed this year by a Flyer and their heated playoff series spurred a deep playoff run. With a captain as emotional as Parise, it’s hard to see him jumping from the Devils to the Philadelphia Flyers. That said, the Flyers have a tradition of winning, a promising young roster that is balanced with veterans, and a far more stable franchise than the New Jersey Devils. There are reasons to consider Philadelphia, but I think Parise will dismiss them.
The Penguins are part of a much less intense rivalry with the New Jersey Devils, which makes the jump to Pittsburgh less emotionally devastating. The Penguins have the money to sign Zach Parise, as well as the offensive talent that video game franchises dream of. Parise would have the chance to link up long-term with the game’s most prolific scorer in Sidney Crosby. However, Crosby’s concussion history offers a different kind of instability in the future. Even Evgeni Malkin has injuries to consider before signing with the Penguins for their offensive glory. After Jordan Staal signed with the Hurricanes and turned down a big offer from the Pens, Devils fans could have one more reason to hate the ‘Canes – they may have freed up the cap space for Parise to go to Pittsburgh.
The Minnesota Wild also made a pitch for Parise, but after claiming all year that the only thing that mattered to Parise is winning, going home to Minnesota would make Parise one of hockey’s biggest hypocrites. The Detroit Red Wings offer prestige and an organizational stability that the Devils will likely never have. The Chicago Blackhawks also offer history and hockey culture that blow New Jersey away. Still, Parise claims to love playing for the Devils and GM Lou Lamoriello.
The issue with the Devils lies in 49% of the organization vacating ownership responsibilities, creating a vortex of debt and instability. The Devils have plenty of cap space to bring back their captain, but can the organization afford to pay a front-loaded salary to arguably the best American player in hockey? Parise says he has been in talks with goaltending legend Martin Brodeur and Lamoriello, but can New Jersey scrape together the funds to keep Parise in red and black? That is assuming, of course, that Parise indeed wants to stay in New Jersey.
Perhaps his “I want to win” speeches regarding his impending free agency decisions were on the assumption that the Devils would continue their postseason struggles behind a new coach and an aging goaltender. It’s hard to say the Devils can’t win the Cup after returning most of their roster if Parise returns. Is Parise willing to risk his reputation by leaving after the Devils almost won it all? How far off is the Devils’ offer from the top salary on the market? Is the future of the team too uncertain with two veteran goalies and financial issues?
Ultimately, I think Parise is holding out to give the Devils more time to answer those questions. All the offers are on the table, and it’s hard to believe Parise is delaying his free agency decision for anything other than the Devils. Signing with the Flyers would make Parise a pariah a few miles up 95 six times a year. Signing with the Penguins means a chance to play for one of the best offenses in hockey, but it also means trusting Sidney Crosby to stay healthy. The Wild are far from a winning team and going home to Minnesota means that Parise must admit he lied to Devils fans for the past two years of impending free agency. The Red Wings and Blackhawks offer prestige that few other organizations can compete with, but are unfamiliar. The Devils are where Parise has a role as a leader. He’d be the most beloved Devil since… Marty Brodeur?
If the Devils have the money available, it’s hard to see Parise anywhere else. If the Devils don’t, it’s hard to blame him for leaving – as long as he doesn’t go to the Flyers.
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