The New Jersey Devils are currently a playoff-bound team, but the future of Zach Parise is still a dark cloud looming over the club. The team has been trying to tie their captain up for some time now.
New Jersey must make the tough decision of trading the star winger or taking their chances at re-signing him this summer should the Olympian test the market.
The 27-year-old Parise is enjoying a healthy season after missing all but 13 games last year. In 44 contests, Parise has tallied 15 goals with 38 total points.
If New Jersey does cast him into the market, they might get a nibble from the St. Louis Blues.
St. Louis has continued their success under veteran coach Ken Hitchcock and are trading punches each day with both the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings for first place in the division. Pursuing a player like Zach Parise would be a smart move if the Blues want to stay near the top of the West.
Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reports Devils GM Lou Lamoriello will want a top, young player, prospect, and a first-round pick in return for the forward who produced a 94-point season three years ago.
Would the Blues be willing to deal so much for the winger?
Before any deal is finished, St. Louis would surely want Parise to sign a deal and not just bring him in as a rental for this year's run. The team is full of young, rising players and should compete year after year moving forward.
The Blues could also satisfy New Jersey's demands.
St. Louis has shown no hesitance trading draft picks to fill team needs. The team included their 2011 first pick to Colorado in a deal for Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk.
This team also has plenty of young talent that would entice New Jersey.
Top prospect Vladimir Tarasenko, for instance, is playing in Russia's KHL. He was recently traded to a contending team there and doubt now lingers that he will be coming to St. Louis next year like most expected.
A more realistic chip would be Jaden Schwartz. The Blues' No. 2 prospect is currently playing NCAA hockey but is one of the best up-and-coming centers in the sport. With a surplus of centers in the organization, Schwartz could be dealt for Parise.
Of course, St. Louis wouldn't be the only club looking to add Parise to its roster.
Minnesota's name is always thrown out in Parise talks. Being a Minnesota native, Parise would likely have no complaints heading west.
Whether or not Zach Parise will be wearing a Devils jersey at season's end is a mystery and all we can do is wait and see.
One thing is for certain: The addition of Parise would pay dividends for St. Louis offensively and would boost the club's chances at winning its first Stanley Cup.
Steven Conklin is a contributing writer for the Bleacher Report and a student at the University of Central Missouri. He joined B/R in October 2011 and will be a B/R intern starting in January 23rd. Any comments, questions or suggestions are more than welcome.