NHL Free Agent Rumors: 5 Teams Potentially Targeting Scoring Machine Zach Parise
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.)
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Parise was born on July 28, 1984 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and spent a good amount of his childhood in the state. It certainly wouldn't be a surprise to see the Minnesota Wild jump at the chance to sign the local product who made it big. With a decent amount of salary cap space left, the Wild could be looking to make a splash of some kind, and what bigger splash can they have than to bring in a superstar like Zach Parise to team with the likes of Martin Havlat or Mikko Koivu?
With Parise being skilled at both sides of the ice, he would be the kind of player that would be a good potential fit for the Wild, assuming they stay with more of a defensive-first presence established by the franchise since Jacques Lemaire was put in place as the organization's first Head Coach. Assuming Parise hits the restricted open market, the Wild would owe it to their fans and neighborhood to at least pursue a player whose father played so many years in front of the same market.
Ultimately, I think Parise to Minnesota may be a bit of a long shot as there may not be enough winning pieces in place to attract him, but perhaps he thinks his addition could potentially make the difference.
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If the Dallas Stars were to lose Brad Richards to free agency, what better option would the new ownership have available than to bring in the young talented star winger Zach Parise? Although the signing would come at the cost of four future first-round picks, it would still be a move that makes perfect sense if the opportunity presented itself.
The Dallas Stars were formerly located in Minnesota, and were the team Parise rooted for as a kid, watching the likes of Neal Broten and Kari Takko. His father played for the North Stars for parts of eight seasons, giving Parise a natural affiliation for the organization. Did that affiliation turn to resentment when the team relocated to Dallas?
Perhaps that may be overt thinking to some extent, but at the end of the day, if Brad Richards were to leave, there would be a big opening not only on the roster, but in cap space as well for the likes of Zach Parise to become sought after by the Dallas Stars if he becomes a restricted free agent on July 1st.
New York Islanders
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Zach Parise on the open market is obviously in line for a large contract, meaning the teams with a lot of available cap space are likely be a potential suitor for the star winger. If you add to this dynamic a team with a lot of young talent looking for a potential leader, then the New York Islanders would have to enter the mix.
Not only do they have the salary cap space, but they can also offer history to Zach, as his father J.P. played for the Islanders, wearing sweater No. 27 for parts of four seasons in the mid-1970's. Could they dangle his father's old jersey number to try and lure Zach out to the Island?
Parise wouldn't have to move very far from his current North Jersey neighborhood, so there definitely are a lot of logical reasons why the New York Islanders would pursue Zach Parise. He instantly would give credibility, a recognizable face and known commodity to a team and fan base that so desperately needs it.
The Islanders have been a hurting franchise in recent years, searching for an identity, and trying to get a new arena in place all while trying to restore and grow its fan base that has starved for excitement and success in the last 25-plus years since their four straight Stanley Cup titles came to an end in 1983.
The seeds have been planted the last couple of years, with talents like John Tavares, Matt Moulson, Michael Grabner and Kyle Okposo beginning to emerge. What better way for a franchise like the Islanders to grow over the top by adding a talent like Parise?
New York Rangers
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The New York Rangers have a good amount of up and coming talent on their roster and would certainly look to supplement their roster with an acquisition like Zach Parise. Sure, the NHL free-agent rumor mill has the Rangers pegged for adding Brad Richards, but that's only because most people are assuming (and most likely rightfully so) Rangers management won't get a chance at Parise.
If Parise does hit the open market, I would expect the Rangers to be hot and heavy for the star winger, if for no other reason than to exercise the demon of drafting Hugh Jessiman over Parise in the star-studded 2003 NHL Draft. The Rangers would be able to dangle everything New York City has to offer and Parise would not even need to move from his current New Jersey residence to play across the river.
Parise would add a second star player to the likes of Marian Gaborik and would be a great compliment to the likes of Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky. Overlook the fact there are potential cap problems for the Rangers, because buyouts/demotions of players like Wade Redden and/or Chris Drury can alleviate those problems almost instantly. That's likely to be GM Glen Sather's plan to open cap space to try and woo Brad Richards. Don't think for one second Sather wouldn't leap at the opportunity to sign Zach Parise if given the chance.
Los Angeles Kings
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The Los Angeles Kings have been looking to add a star scoring forward for several seasons now, flirting with the likes of Marion Gaborik and Ilya Kovalchuk as free agents, only to get beat by other teams. The Kings would love to get a crack at Zach Parise so they can have the young scoring up front that they have sought these past few years.
GM Dean Lombardi danced with Ilya Kovalchuk half last summer, only to have him stay with the New Jersey Devils. Would Lombardi run the risk of potentially being "beaten" by the Devils again with a potential matching of an offer sheet for the likes of a Zach Parise? Lombardi would be crazy not to, as he would bring the work ethic and all-around play this team needs up front.
With studs in the making like Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier in net and on the backline with Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson, Parise would be a great potential fit for the silver and black. Dean Lombardi and Kings ownership are likely salivating at the thought of being able to pursue Parise