Zach Parise is currently set to officially become a restricted free agent on July 1st 2011, and if he were to hit the open market, he would instantly be a hot commodity amongst many NHL teams for obvious reasons. After all, a four-time 30-goal scorer at age 27 (as of July 28th) doesn't hit the free market all that often in the NHL.
Look at all the hoopla that was created last year when Ilya Kovalchuk became an unrestricted free agent at age 27. Yes, it obviously was different with Kovalchuk being unrestricted as opposed to restricted, but it's not like Zach Parise doesn't have a lot going for him which would make many teams swoon at the thought of adding him to their lineup. The only downside would be the potential cost of four first-round draft picks that would be associated with bringing him aboard.
Despite Parise's ability to potentially field offers from other teams on July 1st, keep in mind the Devils do have some options at their disposal to eliminate Parise from the free-agent market. If the Devils choose to take Parise to salary arbitration, it would lock him up for the 2011-12 season at whatever salary the arbitrator decides based on testimony from both parties. There is downside to this for the Devils, as Parise would be locked into a one-year deal and would then be set for unrestricted free agency after the upcoming season.
I'm sure once the salary cap amount for the 2011-12 season is determined, likely towards the end of June, Devils GM Lou Lamoriello will have some intense discussions with Zach Parise and his representatives to try and work out a long-term contract. If they are unable to work out a deal, I would fully expect Lamoriello to take Parise to arbitration. For sake of this discussion, let's say the Devils don't risk taking Parise to arbitration for any number of possible reasons. If that were to happen, what teams would be at the top of the list for Parise? Check out the next few pages for the discussion...
(WRITER's NOTE: Please keep in mind, in no way do I actually think Zach Parise will be on any team other than the New Jersey Devils next year.)
INTERESTED IN DISCUSSING THIS ARTICLE/SLIDESHOW, THE DEVILS OR HOCKEY IN GENERAL? FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER @ LEVINAKL