Stevens and Elias are different players. Age wouldn't effect Stevens's game as much. Bringing up Daneyko and Nieuy are silly as they aren't Parise status and were not relied on as heavily. But that's irrelevant - because like I have said a few times now - I don't want to "get rid" of anyone." I am saying we shouldn't re-sign Zach Parise (IF HE DOESN"T SHOW UP IN GAME 4) to a big contract. Everyone else is signed. And that's a completely legit POV.
The problem with your overall mentality re: this situation is that you're basically boiling everything down to his performance in one game, or at least you're coming off that way. So if Zach has a monster Game 4 and, say, scores a couple of goals, suddenly that makes him worth the big coin? Even if the Devils lose that game 5-2? And I think he HAS shown up in Games 1-3...it doesn't look to me like the Devils as a whole aren't showing up.
I have my own reasons for why the Devils probably shouldn't re-sign Zach, that won't hinge on his Game 4 performance:
1) Someone will likely overpay for him. I know the Devils have some serious money coming off the cap, starting with Brodeur, but the idea of two huge, long-term deals does make me a little nervous...I've never been a big fan of getting "top-heavy", even though Kovy's yearly cap hit is actually not too crazy.
2) Zach does a lot of great things and can drive play, but his game is so based on playing high-energy...I do worry about his ability to sustain that level of energy as he gets older. I also think we've already seen his best, that he's already peaked...not saying he's some kind of scrub now, I still think he's a very good player, but he's likely going to get signed to superstar dollars. GMs make the mistake of signing good to very good players to this kind of money all of the time, thinking that doing so will somehow lead to superstar performance. When Zach does sign that kind of contract, it won't be nearly as glaring of a mistake as the Rangers signing Gomez, but it will still be a mistake...one Lou should not make.
The only way I see it making sense for Zach to stay is if the contract isn't for a ridiculous term (6 years or less) and the cap hit isn't crazy (no more than $6.5 million per year)...I know this will never happen. If some other team wants to cough up 7 or more seasons or $50 million plus, I don't think the Devils should match it. I think Lou can find a way to re-invest the money they would've given to Zach where they'll remain competitive, and the team's spirit won't be broken.