Zach Parise's Role on Interested NHL Teams

Kevin Schlittenhardt@kevinschlitzCorrespondent IIJuly 3, 2012

Zach Parise's Role on Interested NHL Teams

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    The Devils would be wise to do what they can to keep the valuable Minnesota-native in Newark, but there are a lot of offers that might entice the 27-year-old to leave. He turned a playoff-missing team into an Eastern Conference finalist and could be an asset to any NHL club with the cap to afford him.   

    Arguably one of the best American players since Chris Chelios, the first-year Devils captain led the New Jersey Devils to the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals.

    While Parise’s consistent 60 points a season are a nice bonus to the team, his leadership skills make him an asset as a player. He managed to ground Russian sniper teammate Ilya Kovalchuk, whose superstar mentality arguably kept the Devils out of the 2011 playoffs.

    The Devils’ playoff success and Parise’s instatement as captain was no coincidence—it was the result of newfound stellar leadership.

    However, Parise’s contract is up and where he ends up for the 2013 season is precarious. It is uncertain whether the Devils will have enough money in their cap to hold on to their captain.

    Knowing this, four other teams have smelled blood in the water and are swimming to Newark for a big free-agent pickup. 

Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Having just traded away Jordan Staal for Carolina Hurricanes’ Brandon Sutter, the Penguins have jumped into the bidding war for the Devils captain in search of some more offensive power.

    There are a lot of possibilities for Parise to fit into the Penguins. With superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin centering the first two lines, Parise could easily increase his yearly production playing left wing for one of the two snipers.

    Parise might also fill in Staal’s former role on the third line, giving the Penguins three very productive, very deadly lines. Parise and Sutter could be put together on the third line as newcomers to help each other assimilate with the rest of the team.

    Parise would have to relinquish his captain duties—Crosby is cemented into that role for the Penguins. However, Parise would make the Penguins a deep, deadly force in both five-on-five and power-play situations.

    As a contender for the Stanley Cup every year, the Penguins could be a tempting offer for him as the American-born player strives for his first championship.

Chicago Blackhawks

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    (If pressed for time, see Pittsburgh Penguins' slide)

    The Blackhawks have just recently made a late push for the Devils' captain. 

    As two of the most offensively powerful teams in the NHL, the Penguins and the Chicago Blackhawks want Parise for the same reason—to create an all-star offense.

    Parise could play on the top line with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, he might play left wing with Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa or he could play alongside Michael Frolik and strengthen the third line.

    Chicago might have to ponder where exactly to put Parise, but one thing they do not have to ponder is why they want him.

    However, in the interest of the Blackhawks, Chicago should really lobby for a goaltender or some defense. Chicago has six skilled forwards and while Parise will definitely strengthen that part of their game, the Blackhawks’ goaltending and defensive weakness will remain a problem if they are not tended to.

Minnesota Wild

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    Unlike some of the other scenarios, Parise’s leadership would have an enormous impact for the Wild.

    As a team that started the 2012 season on top of the Western Conference, the Wild have shown potential and Parise would be just the player to push the team to play up to their strengths.

    It would be a risk for Parise to join a young team like the Wild, but there is no doubt that his influence would be put to the test and his offensive support would be great for Minnesota. Parise, Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi could effortlessly keep the lamp lit in his hometown.

    Though Parise has recently purchased a house in his hometown of Minneapolis, MN, for now, it is an investment that Parise insists people should not read into—but how could they not.

Detroit Red Wings

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    The team from Motor City has expressed interest in Newark’s captain—as if Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen and Henrik Zetterburg are not enough offensive power. The fact of the matter is, the aftertaste of Detroit’s 2008 Stanley Cup win is gone and the Red Wings are hungry for another.

    The Red Wings used to be captained by Niklas Lidstrom, who had just recently retired after this past season. The captain position will probably be Datsyuk’s—so Parise is unlikely to get another “C” on his jersey.

    However, his playmaking ability and strength behind the net will only add to the Red Wings’ already impeccable offense.

    The Red Wings could pay Parise quite nicely, but he is unlikely to get the stardom in Detroit that he gets on the Devils or would get on the Wild.

New Jersey Devils

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    The New Jersey Devils need Parise. It is as simple as that.

    New Jersey got to the Stanley Cup finals under his leadership, players stayed in their roles and Marty Brodeur played like he was still in his 20’s. The Devils would not have gotten where they did without Parise and losing him could be detrimental to the team.

    Parise and Kovalchuk have just started to develop chemistry and play well together.

    Rookie Adam Henrique looks like he could be the next Parise and needs his help to grow into star player.

    This Devils team has so much potential and Parise is the key that can unlock it. Unfortunately for the Devils, if they lose their key, it may never be revealed.