Zach Parise will become a restricted free agent on July 1st
Despite not making the playoffs the New Jersey Devils appear to be in the midst of their own post season battle. New Jersey and soon to be restricted free agent winger Zach Parise have yet to open any dialect regarding a contract extension and it looks more and more likely that the team will opt for club-elected salary arbitration.
To any other hockey team this may be normal operating procedure but for the Devils it could possibly be the beginning of the end of the Zach Parise era in New Jersey. You see, General Manager Lou Lamoriello’s track record with retaining his own teams free agents has been severely tarnished over the last few seasons. The apparent lack of urgency with an extension for Parise is a bit disconcerting to a fan base still miffed by the departures of Scott Niedermayer, Brian Gionta, Brian Rafalski and Paul Martin just to name a few.
A team basically has four options in regards to a potential restricted free agent, they can sign them to an extension, the player can elect for arbitration, the team can elect for arbitration or they can match an offer sheet from another team. Parise is slated to hit the restricted market on July 1st and has said several times that he is willing to sign a long term extension. The All-Star winger has also reiterated that he is waiting for Devils management to approach him with an offer; As of today, they have yet to do so. And according to the Star-Ledger’s Rick Chere, New Jersey may indeed opt to take Parise to arbitration instead of negotiating a new contract. “It seems increasingly likely the Devils and GM Lou Lamoriello will file for club-elected salary arbitration this summer.” Not exactly music to the ears of the thousands of members of the Devils legion.
Parise doesn’t seem to be too thrilled about the lack of communication from his current employer and when asked about the idea of having to deal with an arbiter in lieu of a new deal Parise was candid, “I’ve talked about that with my agent. That’s one of their options, I guess I understand where the team would be coming from, but I wouldn’t be too thrilled about it.” Again another quote to get you wondering how much longer until Parise decides he is better off with a different logo on his chest.
It’s easy to understand why the Olympic Silver Medalist maybe be getting a bit impatient with the Devils. Last summer it appeared that The Devils would do whatever possible to hold onto unrestricted free agent Ilya Kovalckuk, up to and including breaking the rules and relinquishing future draft picks. Now, Parise can’t even get a simple preliminary sit down AND Lamoriello called re-signing Parise “a priority.” The tight-lipped GM wouldn’t even say if the team plans to open a dialogue in the rear future.
Also, fans have to speculate how much impact the Kovalchuk contract saga has already had on #9 long term. Could Zack possibly feel that the team is looking to build around Kovalchuk and may not even have room for him? After-all thanks to the mega deal the Devils showered Kovy with their not exactly in a very cap friendly situation. They have over $52 million tied up in just 17 players! Will there even be enough money to sign him for what he’s worth? The four-time 30+ goal scorer earned $5 million this season and will command a substantial raise for his efforts. One would have to think that there needs to be some movement soon by the Devils or the potential damage may be irreversible.
It’s conceivable that the Devils and Lamoriello are just sitting back, waiting for the salary cap to increase above the current $59.4 million ceiling. For Devils fans the longer this goes on without any talks, the more panic and frustration will replace patience and understanding. For Parise this may be the straw that broke the camel’s back. It’s still early and a deal could more than likely be wrapped up sooner than later, but right now it already starting to feel too late.
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Could Parise Ditch the Devils?
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