Zach Parise is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. The 27-year-old winger will be coming off a one-year contract for $6 million from the New Jersey Devils. Serving as the team captain, he has helped lead the Devils to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Parise has 410 career points in 502 games and is an outstanding defensive player. He should command a long-term contract at a similar cap hit to his previous contract.
Here are five teams that could land him this summer.
The Wild may seem like an odd choice, but they have several factors going in their favor.
Parise is a native to Minneapolis. He played midget hockey at the nearby Shattuck St. Mary's high school.
The Wild have plenty of cap space to sign a player like Parise. Their flexibility will greatly increase when Dany Heatley's contract is off the books after 2014. Parise will not cripple their ability to sign players in the short or long term.
The negative is that Minnesota has not been a successful franchise. Parise may want to sign with a proven winning franchise, rather than roll the dice on the Wild.
The Rangers are no strangers to signing big-name free agents from the Devils. Notable examples are Scott Gomez and Bobby Holik, though neither worked out well for them.
The Rangers have cap room to sign Parise and Marian Gaborik's contract will expire after 2014. However the Rangers have a core of young players that will need to be re-signed over the next few seasons. Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh all likely will require significant contracts.
There is also the question of whether Parise would be willing to sign with the Rangers, considering the animosity it would create.
The Hurricanes have an abundance of salary cap space. They have 19 players under contract for the 2012-13 season and only have a salary of around $45 million.
Carolina will be looking for some help on offense and needs a winger to pair with Eric Staal. Parise would be a perfect fit.
They have a solid foundation in goal with Cam Ward and a large number of young developing players.
Rumors have been strong about the Red Wings making a push for Zach Parise along with defenseman Ryan Suter. With only $44 million committed to salaries for the 2012-13 season, the Wings have plenty of room to add Parise and others.
The only possible negative could be Parise representing a 4th forward that the Red Wings will be paying big money to. It could limit their roster flexibility over the upcoming years.
The New Jersey will have plenty of salary cap space clearing up over the next couple of seasons. Martin Brodeur's salary comes off the books this year, followed by Patrick Elias and Dainius Zubrus the next season.
Long term, there is no question that the Devils can afford Parise from a salary cap standpoint. The main issue for the Devils is their ownership instability at the moment.
However, I believe the Devils to be the favorite due to the effects of the Stanley Cup run and Parise's attachment to the team. The profits associated with the playoff run should help the teams finances both short and long term. If the issue is resolved, Parise will be a New Jersey Devil.