It is safe to say Zach Parise's free-agency saga was, along with Ryan Suter's, the most-followed story of the 2012 offseason.
It looks like the New Jersey Devils were just as ingrained in it.
No one can blame the Devils for wanting their captain back, and no one is blaming them for making it their No. 1 priority. The issue is that now, the Devils' offseason next year could be even worse.
According to CapGeek, the Devils have seven unrestricted free agents heading into next offseason and two restricted free agents. Usually a potential free-agent class that numerous includes a lot of fourth line and depth players, but that is certainly not the case for the Devils.
Of their impending UFAs, the Devils could potentially lose Travis Zajac, Patrik Elias, Dainius Zubrus, David Clarkson and Marek Zidlicky.
Their RFAs include Calder candidate Adam Henrique and touted prospect Jacob Josefson.
If that's not sinking in, let's frame it another way. Although unlikely, if all of those players were to leave, the Devils would be left with the following forwards for the 2013-14 season: Ilya Kovalchuk, Steve Bernier, Krys Barch, Cam Janssen, Ryan Carter and Steve Gionta.
That's a superstar, two enforcers and three role players. Good luck keeping up with the rest of the Atlantic Division (or whatever it's called if realignment goes through).
Now, in reality, Zajac, Henrique and Clarkson should be locks to come back. With Henrique as an RFA, it makes it even more likely he'll be back.
But Parise was a lock, too, if you talked to most people whose opinion you could trust prior to the 2011-12 season.
Elias is playing into the twilight of his career and Zubrus isn't far behind, but both could be productive for another few years, especially playing in a familiar system. Peter DeBoer's offensive focus was a breath of fresh air for Devils fans and players alike, so it would be to the benefit of an aging Elias to stick in the system.
The reality is that most of these players will be back in a Devils uniform, but it will likely be more expensive to do so. With the ownership issues the Devils have been facing, it throws an aura of uncertainty around who the Devils will be able to retain at the end of the 2012-13 season.