With the Devils losing last night, the New Jersey Devils off-season finally begins. With that being said, why not jump right into the discussion about the big elephant in the Devils room- Zach Parise and his expiring contract. This decsion will affect the Devils going forward. If Parise re-signs, the Devils will likely still be able to compete for a cup, assuming they can get decent goaltending. If Parise doesn't, the Devils will have to be faced with the task of replacing Parise's offensive production. That of course, is very problematic due to the lack of high quality free agent wingers on the free agent market (Alexander Semin and P.A. Parenteau are the best two available) and on the trade market (Rick Nash is the best available in that regards), replacing him will be much harder. The Devils also don't have a lot of internal options- they don't really have a lot of top tier offensive prospects in the prospect pool. In short, the ramnifications of Parise's decision will affect this franchise significantly. With that being said, I'm going to try and break down some of the favourites' chances of signing Parise.
They have tons of cap space and owners willing to spend (side note- how much of a say does Adam Henrique in this? He does own the Jets, you know). The only problem is convincing Parise that the Jets are going to be good (or signing Ryan Suter).
They have a boatload of cap space and they came off their best season post-lockout. I do think that they're probably not going to make a big splash in free agency this year though, they don't seem like a team that likes to do that.
Mark Parisi over at Silver Seven had a post about signing Parise and Suter together- It's possible. In that post, Mark does bring up how Sens owner Eugene Melnyk says that the team isn't likely going to be spending close to the cap. It's possible, but I have to wonder how much ownership plays into the Sens signing him.
When hasn't Paul Holmgren tried to surprise us with an incredibly stupid and/or short-sighted roster move?
When i'm talking about the Favourites, i'm talking about the teams who's names have popped up in the discussion for Parise.
The Case for: They have talent. Both the kind with experience (Eric Staal, Cam Ward, Joni Pitkanen) and the young talent (Jeff Skinner, Justin Faulk, Jamie McBain, Zac Dalpe, Brandon Sutter). They might not be the best of the bunch, but with Parise, they should be able to power ahead of their counterparts in the Southeast.
The Case Against: Corey over at Shutdown Line brings up contract length being an issue- which isn't just an issue for the Hurricanes, but an issue for all the teams in question. The Hurricanes never struck me as an organization that will make a big risk, so I can see the contract length being a legitimate problem.
The Case for: Playing for his hometown. Which is the only reason why the Wild can even be considered a favourite. Additionally, the Wild's prospect pool features several high-end prospects and could be considered one of the best in the NHL.
The Case against: Nearly everything about the Wild. They have good prospects, but none of them are in the NHL. There's just as much of a chance Mikael Granlund being the next Teemu Selanne as there is the Granlund being another Sami Kapanen. Right now, they're just magic beans. Unlike Carolina, they don't have a lot of young talent proving themselves. Also, I wonder how he'd feel playing in Mike Yeo's "Death to Puck Possession" system in comparison to Peter DeBoer and his good puck possession system.
The Case for: Solid ownership, the fact that his pal Ryan Suter will likely be signing there and the fact that the Red Wings are still pretty good. As good as DeBoer has been, Mike Babcock is a much better coach than DeBoer (I've gotta state the obvious. Sorry). They still have several of their star players under contract (namely Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg). They have some young talent (Gustav Nyquist, Brendan Smith) and solid, young goaltending in the form of Jimmy Howard. They also have the money and means to sign Parise to a contract
The Case Against: The Red Wings are more or less the Devils except with a young goalie. The Devils have a star player under contract for a long term like Zetterberg (Kovalchuk), a veteran player who can play at a high level like Datsyuk (Elias), and young talent like Nyquist and Smith (Henrique and Larsson). The difference is that the Devils don't have that young stud goalie like Howard, but rather a big fat question mark for the time being. If Parise feels that the Devils goaltending situation isn't a massive problem (like every hack suggests), then why would he sign in Detroit? I'm not doubting them at all, but at this point the Red Wings aren't exactly light years ahead of the Devils like everyone suggests.
The Case for: The best chance to win in my opinion. They're neck-and neck in regards with Detroit, but the fact that they were able to go all the way to the Finals and beat the Los Angeles Kings twice in six games (with a severely crippled roster), something which the Kings previous opponents weren't able to do does give the Devils an edge in terms of chances of winning. Another thing going the way of the Devils is Peter DeBoer- Parise has said that he likes DeBoer, and it's not like DeBoer's going anywhere next season. Playing under a coach he likes would be an added bonus. Also, with the ownership issues settling down abit, that might entice Parise to stay. Although I doubt the ownership problems right now will stop the Devils from offering him a big contract.
The Case Against: There isn't a hard case against the Devils right now. It all boils down to how Zach Parise feels about the Devils going forward. At this point, it's up to him whether or not he stays or leaves.
With all that being said, do you feel abit more confident about the Devils chances of re-signing Parise? Personally, I think the Devils do have the best chance of all the teams who are going to be in the running for Parise. Hopefully, Zach feels the same way about this as I do. Which unfortunately, might not be the case.