As the NHL breaks for All-Star festivities, the New Jersey Devils are clinging to the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. If the cash-strapped franchise opts to become a seller at the trade deadline, one obvious asset that might go on the market is free-agent-to-be winger Zach Parise.
As noted by ESPN, Parise would be extremely difficult to re-sign unless the team’s financial situation improves significantly, making the draft picks to be had for trading him far better than nothing. The Newark Star-Ledger, for its part, puts the team’s chances of bringing him back at 50-50, but still doesn’t expect to see him traded.
Unless New Jersey drops hopelessly out of postseason contention in the next month, moving Parise would do more harm than good to the team’s future. Even though he’s coming off a serious knee injury, he’s in great form this season (40 points so far, tied for second on the roster) and is, at age 27, very much in his prime.
Trading such a player for draft picks and salary space would be a terrible move unless his free-agent departure was a certainty. As both ESPN and the Star-Ledger note, Parise has expressed interest in re-signing, so getting him back at below market value (especially with a playoff run this season) is far from an impossible prospect.
The Devils wouldn’t be the first franchise to make a move that was bad for the team because it helped the bottom line. If they can possibly avoid it, though, they should steer clear of dealing the talented Parise.