Will this be the only trophy Zach Parise has been a part of with the New Jersey Devils? We will know...tomorrow. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Today was the first day for unrestricted free agents to discuss and sign new contracts with other teams. Many teams are active on July 1 with the intent to address team needs, shore up positions, and/or spend money on players they desire. However, the New Jersey Devils did nothing. They have not made any moves at all today. They are still well below the salary cap floor. They are still pretty much the same team they had before July 1.
Well, it isn't exactly the same team. One of the Devils' six unrestricted free agents signed with another team. Alexei Ponikarovsky went to Winnipeg for one year and $1.8 million, as confirmed by TSN. I think that's a reasonable amount for the left winger. I would have liked Ponikarovsky to remain in New Jersey, especially if was only going to cost that much. I understand the team has a budget, but they could have fit him in for that without that affecting their gameplan. Oh, well. I appreciate what he did in 2012 for New Jersey all the same. Additionally, the Islanders decided to pick up Eric Boulton for a season for some reason according to Islanders Point Blank. Still, five of the unrestricted free agents from the Devils are still unsigned.
While the Devils didn't do anything, their plans are clearly centered around Zach Parise. Today, the morning centered around Parise as there was a reported 10 AM deadline as to whether he'd test the market. He did just that and fielded offers from many other teams from Dallas to Carolina (both are out) to Pittsburgh to Minnesota (both are at least still in?). Parise and his people have heard them and have decided to think it over before making a decision. Tom Gulitti has an extensive summary of what has been reported in this post at Fire & Ice. Parise even spoke to the media himself. Based on this video by TSN, Parise has been talking with Lou this entire time in addition to other teams. For all of the talk about the Devils' financial problems, they have to have some money if they've been continuing to talk with Parise and his agents throughout the day. I can believe that they're still in the running, even though I think they don't have the biggest and best offer on the table for him.
However, as Parise takes a night to make one of the biggest decisions of his career, the Devils have decided to wait on everyone else. Martin Brodeur has had some inquiries, including Toronto. However, as Gulitti noted in this post at Fire & Ice, Brian Burke thinks Brodeur will remain in New Jersey. That could be misdirection or it could be an admission. So he's up in the air like the other four free agents. Bryce Salvador hasn't ruled the Devils out, but as Bob McKenzie tweeted, he may be waiting on what happens with Ryan Suter (who also is not making a decision until July 2) and Matt Carle first. Johan Hedberg and Petr Sykora are still available. And the Devils won't make initiate moves on either of them until Parise makes his choice. The same goes for their qualified restricted free agents; I don't think they'll get full offers until this is settled. Apparently, so it goes with the other unrestricted free agent forwards. They're waiting on Parise too.
I can understand why the Devils are doing it this way. They have a budget, a new contract for Parise would presumably take up a large amount of it, and that will force the team's hand on how much they can offer to other players. Yet, if Parise goes elsewhere, then the Devils will have to act fast on the others and possibly overpay other free agents. That possibility of Parise signing elsewhere may be preferable given the huge offers he's supposedly getting or demanding. As I've said before, I think any deal that has an average annual value over $7.8 million is too much for Parise; but the market could very well prove me foolish. I just hope the others don't bolt or the market gets even thinner because they're holding out hope their offer wins out. Regardless of what Parise decides, the Devils still have a cap floor to hit, goaltenders to sign, and forward spots on the roster to fill. I would have rather seen the Devils address those areas while trying to convince Parise to stay; but what wasn't done wasn't done. We shall see what he decides tomorrow and we shall see whether the Devils remain quiet for another day. Let's hope for the best - whatever that may be right now.