As the NHL’s February 27th trade deadline approaches, the two biggest superstar names swirling around the rumor mill are Zach Parise and Rick Nash. Each of these coveted talents plays for an organization experiencing a variety of issues, from ownership controversies and financial instability to fielding a flat out bad hockey team.
Given the endless list of speculative rumors infecting the hockey landscape, it seems not only interesting, but appropriate to compare Parise and Nash to decide which of the two stars is the more attractive commodity.
Parise: Parise is a heart and soul type of guy who was finally rewarded for his dedication with the captaincy prior to the 2011-2012 season. He is a leader through example and brings his best each and every night. The only legitimate knock on Parise regarding leadership is that he has never been able to lead a successful regular season Devil’s squad to any sort of postseason glory.
Nash: Nash has been the face of the Columbus Blue Jackets for his entire professional career. Appointed captain in 2008, Nash bears the burden of putting the entire team on his back on a gamely basis and he answers the bell more often than not. He is a natural leader, and has shown incredible audacity and loyalty by choosing to commit himself to a lowly franchise.
Conclusion: Nash gets the edge in this category because there is no real legitimate argument for why he is anything but an exceptional leader and member of the Blue Jackets organization. Parise is a solid leader as well, but he has not yet proven that he can take good teams to the promised land.
Parise: One of the most invaluable components of Parise’s game is his defensive prowess. He is almost always the first forward on the back check and holds his own on the break out despite the regular challenge of a physically superior defenseman.
Parise is a career plus-58 player and is willing to do anything and everything it takes to make a play in the defensive zone, whether that means taking a bone rattling hit to chip the puck to a streaking Patrik Elias or blocking a 108 mile-per-hour slap shot courtesy of Zdeno Chara. He is also a mainstay on a stellar New Jersey penalty kill, logging about two minutes and 10 seconds of man down ice time per game.
Nash: Nash isn’t quite the same type of energy player that Parise is, but he performs valiantly in the defensive zone as well. He is a career minus-74 player, but it is important to understand that he has played for a generally pathetic organization that has seen its team make the postseason just one time since its inaugural season in 2000. A power forward, Nash naturally brings a physical presence in the defensive zone and clearly tries to put the team on his back starting in his own end.
Conclusion: This comparison was slightly less competitive than the first. It is clear that Parise is the superior defensive player and is renowned around the league as an excellent two-way forward. Nash does what he can, but he has neither the supporting cast nor defensive ability to out due Parise.
Parise: Parise was drafted with the 17th overall pick in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. Lou Lamoriello proved his genius yet again as Parise has turned that pick into a steal for New Jersey. At 27 years old, Parise has been a cornerstone of the New Jersey attack for almost seven full seasons. In that time, he has put up 391 points in 477 games played, including 184 goals and 206 assists. He is also a career plus-58 player.
You would be hard-pressed to find a player as hard-working and gritty as Parise who also brings top-notch skill to the offensive table. With some of the silkiest hands in the business, and a willingness to grind with the biggest and best defensemen the league has to offer, Parise is one of the most naturally talented and effective offensive players in the NHL.
Nash: the Columbus Blue Jackets took Rick Nash with the first overall pick in the 2002 NHL Entry draft. Don’t take what I am about to say the wrong way, but I whole-heartedly believe that, according to his offensive statistics, Nash does not warrant all of the hype that has surrounded him over the past month. Sure, he’s put up decent numbers in his career with 527 points in 649 games played, but he has only once surpassed 70 points in a single season and never reached the 80-point plateau.
In fact, Nash has broken the 60-point barrier in only four of his first eight professional seasons and is on pace to fall short of that mark again this year. Considering Nash is responsible for a monstrous $7.8 million salary cap hit, it is at least somewhat surprising that the word “underachiever” hasn’t been thrown and around more often in conversations about Rick Nash. It is evident to anyone who watches Nash play that he is a force to be reckoned with, but honestly I am not sure why he is as highly touted as other superstars in the league who chronically outperform him.
Conclusion: It’s close, but Parise is the more dynamic offensive force between the two. Nash is a stellar power forward, but Parise’s work ethic and raw production give him an edge on the attacking side of the puck. The Devils also get more bang for their buck with Parise than the Blue Jackets get with Nash, as Parise has posted 50 points during the current season while making $6 million in comparison to Nash’s current output of 39 total points with an annual cap hit of $7.8 million.
He is the more dangerous offensive player and is a top-five defensive forward in the NHL. Rick Nash is a fantastic player and the consummate pro, but he just falls short of Parise when it comes to on-ice effectiveness.
The bottom line here is that both of these superstar wingers are incredibly enticing to suitors and for good reason, but when compared head to head, Parise is clearly the better, more complete player.