The New Jersey Devils are one of the NHL's premier franchises. With three Stanley Cups under their belt, New Jersey is a team that doesn't have to do much to draw in talented free agents.
Team captain Zach Parise is one of the brightest talents in the NHL and will become an unrestricted free agent this upcoming July. Will the Devils try to re-sign him? Of course.
Will Parise test the free-agency waters? Of course.
With so much salary tied up in Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrik Elias—not to mention goaltender Martin Brodeur will be an UFA also—the Devils will have some tough decisions to make. If Parise is interested in returning, that is.
Parise is from the state of Minnesota and might be seriously considering playing for his hometown team. The Minnesota Wild have been dumping excessive salaries, perhaps in hopes of throwing the kitchen sink at Parise come July.
Parise would be reunited with friend Tom Gilbert, a defenseman the Wild traded for at this year's deadline. According to CapGeek, the Wild will have around $18 million in cap room for next year. Parise will likely command around $8 million per season and will have a number of suitors.
Parise to the Wild seems like the perfect match. Minnesota has the money to offer him the best deal in terms of dollars, and the Wild will likely try to lure Parise in with the signing of other prominent free agents. Nashville defenseman Ryan Suter is also an upcoming free agent and likely another top target of the Wild.
The question for the Devils and their fans is how much will this year's Stanley Cup run affect Parise's decision?
Probably not as much as most fans think. Whether the Devils win the Cup this year or lose in the semis to Philadelphia, Parise is going to make his decision based on other factors. I don't think this year's playoff success will make much of a difference for Parise.
Parise is an elite talent, and any team that can afford him will try to attain his services. I think the best fit will ultimately be back in Minnesota, but time will tell.