What works once may work twice. That could not be more true for the Devils and the looming restricted free agency of Zach Parise. The Devils have set up what appears to be a long-term core with Parise, Zajac, Kovalchuk and young players such as Tedenby, Josefson, Corrente, etc., but most people agree that locking up Parise right away is priority number one right now that Kovalchuk is settled in for almost two decades.
Parise is going to demand around $7.5M or so, which may work out, because his current cap hit ($3.1M) plus the salary of soon-to-be unrestricted free agent center Jason Arnott ($4.5M) adds up to $7.6M per year. Parise deserves to cash in right away though, so if you're Lou, do you think about frontloading a long-term deal now? Might we see a ten or twelve year deal with Parise, offering him something in the neighborhood of $7.5M until Brodeur, Rolston, Elias, White and Langenbrunner come off the cap and then start to increase, adding minimum salary years at the tail end of the deal? (By the way, I feel I should point out that if Kovalchuk goes to the bank with the $11.5M he can earn $575,000 from the bank after 39, so I expect him to retire at age 39)
I would lock Parise up, and whether he becomes the captain immediately or not, he needs to be reminded that this is still Parise's team. Parise was raised here, and deserves to be treated as such. The bottom line is if Parise can make the money early in the deal, he might be willing to come back down to a $6.5M cap hit or something similar to that.
The future looks exciting for the Devils, as an offensive system seems to be implimented here, and Parise and Zajac are hardly entering their prime yet, now they will be able to play their game and show us how far they can go. As I mentioned in another reply, having a second line with a 40+ goal scorer isn't too modest at all, especially when those linemates (Arnott, Elias likely) may be on their way out within 2-3 years, Josefson and Tedenby figure to step up. That's looking ahead though, the bottom line is Lou wants a Stanley Cup in the 2010-11 season, that much is obvious.