The signs are are beginning to point more towards New Jersey Devils captain Zach Parise testing the free-agent market this summer.
With that in mind, and some glaring holes on their roster as it stands today, the Devils might not wait to watch him walk for nothing and might prefer to bring something back in a trade before the superstar walks away.
With that in mind, one has to wonder where Parise might wind up. What kind of package would the Devils want, and where would he fit well? What follows are 10 teams to consider as potential landing spots for Parise if he is put on the block at some point this year.
Under new alignment, Montreal would only face New Jersey twice per season...so dealing Parise to a team that geographically close by wouldn't be such an epic disaster from a public-relations perspective.
Meanwhile, the Habs are one of those teams that has an annual problem getting the puck in the net and could probably afford to pay Parise top dollar.
The problem with Parise going to Montreal is the financial commitments already on the books for the Habs up front, and their lack of an NHL defenseman under contract next year (no, we're not counting Markov).
The Avs are an intriguing sleeper in this mix because they might have some NHL assets to put into the equation to get their hands on an elite two-way forward like Parise.
They're young and are trying to get over the hump, and someone like Parise would put them in much stronger position moving into the new four-conference alignment.
Would Colorado entertain the idea of including some of their free agents-to-be in a deal? Looking at the Avs' cap picture this coming summer, they'll have over $42 million with which to build a team, and having someone like Parise front and center would be a good step.
A new team in a city that's been desperate for hockey for so long, there are probably 8 million reasons (per year) that the Jets should go after Parise.
While Andrew Ladd is a fantastic player and good leader, there is a significant leadership void on this roster, which could use a responsible, two-way player like Parise.
Looking into the future, the Jets should have extra motivation to add an offensive player soon; they're going to be in a division with Detroit and Chicago next fall. If you can't score, you can't win.
The Ducks would appear, to the naked eye, to have enough firepower to compete. Yet they're currently tied for 28th in the NHL, scoring 2.27 goals per game.
Adding a defensively responsible player like Parise, especially at the potential expense of a top-line player like Ryan Getzlaf or Bobby Ryan, would be an improvement for both now and the future.
This is a bit of a wild card because of how top-heavy the Blackhawks' salary situation is up front, but they have some pieces that could make for an intriguing play to land Parise.
It's doubtful that Chicago would make a move for a rental player while mortgaging their organizational depth, and the Hawks' needs are more on the blue line than up front right now.
But if New Jersey wants to get their hands on a handful of NHL players and/or prospects in a deal, Chicago might be a player.
With minimal cap hits for guys like Viktor Stalberg and Bryan Bickell up front, and a young defenseman like Niklas Hjalmarsson that might fit well in Jersey, a package might work between the two.
This is the least likely fit on the list.
This is a fascinating thought for a potential home for Parise. With a baby-faced core that's already playing well, the Oilers could use the space created by the expiring Ryan Smyth deal ($6.25 million) to add an elite two-way forward that has a lot left in the tank.
The only tricky part of Parise signing a long-term deal in Edmonton would be the potential issues that come up in the future when they need to give new paper to guys like Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall (2013) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (2014).
But the thought that Edmonton might be willing to put an expiring contract like Ales Hemsky and/or Sam Gagner into a deal is a good starting point for conversation.
If Edmonton is trying to mirror the formula used in Chicago, adding Parise would be their equivalent to the Hawks' signing Marian Hossa before their Cup season.
If you're looking for a team that has A) a goaltender surplus and B) good young talent matriculating its way up through the organization, the Kings are right there.
If the Devils wanted to use Parise to bring in a potential long-term replacement for Martin Brodeur, Jonathan Bernier has been the hot name in rumors for months.
The Kings are right up against the cap right now, so they would have to dump some salary in any deal to bring Parise in. But with Dustin Penner and Jarrett Stoll clearing almost $8 million this coming summer, the Kings would have the space to give Parise what he wanted in the future.
Here's an intriguing proposition: Nashville desperately needs a top-tier scorer, and will likely have to choose between two all-world defensemen this summer.
New Jersey, meanwhile, has a lot of money being spent up front (and will have to make decisions on guys like Elias, Zajac, Henrique and Clarkson in 2013) and needs help on the blue line.
So Suter/Weber for Parise straight up? Hmmm....
This is the "absolutely going for broke at all costs this year" trade. The Wild are off to an incredible start, and adding another solid piece up front would get them into the conversation for staying power and Stanley Cup contention.
Right now, their biggest weakness has been scoring; they're 23rd in the league as of Monday night.
The big question for the Wild is whether they would potentially mortgage their future by trading a kid like Charlie Coyle for the chance at adding a superstar for a Cup run.
This might be the best fit for Parise on the list. With a group of hard-nosed veterans that play a defensive game under Ken Hitchcock, the Blues would use a point-per-game guy like Parise on their roster. His play on both ends of the ice make him a good fit in St. Louis, too.
The problem in St. Louis is that they're dead last in the league on the power play and are 22nd in the league in scoring.
They're playing well enough that a playoff run isn't out of the question this year, and adding a game-changer like Parise might make that happen.
The tricky question would be who the Blues would give up for him. Certainly Chris Stewart might be available, and their organizational depth on the blue line might bring something to the mix as well.