If the New Jersey Devils want to remain one of the NHL's top franchises, Zach Parise will be a key. If he's not and and they don't get something for him, New Jersey will be left in a state of disarray and won't be seriously competitive for a while.
While protesting that he’d never said so previously, general manager Lou Lamoriello last night told The Post he won’t be trading Zach Parise before Monday’s deadline, confirming what Pete DeBoer said earlier yesterday.
The Devils captain can become an unrestricted free agent July 1 and could be the most-sought rental on the market, if he was on it. Sources say Parise has decided against negotiating a new long-term deal before the trade deadline and perhaps before the end of the season.
Unlike Rick Nash in Columbus, there is a potential urgency for the Devils to make a move. If they don't trade Parise and are unable to sign him, New Jersey will get nothing for the star player. Looking at his numbers over the last few years, Parise would carry a lot of value.
Throw those numbers on top of the fact that Parise is only 27, and he has a long, bright future ahead of him. Yes, he can be a free agent, but a potential trade partner would have the first crack at locking Parise up.
The trade deadline is Monday, so him not being willing to negotiate before that date is not a big deal. After Monday, however, the Devils need to do everything humanly possible to not let Parise see free agency. That means that they need to lock him up before the season ends—make him an offer he can't refuse.
The Devils are a playoff team this year, but New Jersey needs to be sure that they stay that way in future seasons.
Parise is not only an elite scorer, but his captaincy shows that his Devils teammates like him as well.
I understand not wanting to unload an elite player while in the midst of a playoff chase, but the Devils need to make that worth their while. That means that a long-term extension has to be signed. This will not be the time to watch the wallets.
If they do that, then one of the team's best players and franchise cornerstones will be lost with nothing to show for his departure. That is not something the Devils can let happen.