NHL Trade Rumors: 8 Teams Praying New Jersey Devils Deal Parise

Peter MillsContributor IIIFebruary 10, 2012

NHL Trade Rumors: 8 Teams Praying New Jersey Devils Deal Parise

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    Zach Parise is an elite player for the New Jersey Devils. He's quick, has great hands, an unbeatable work ethic and great ice vision. His hands are almost as good as Pavel Datsyuk's.

    Parise avoided free agency last season by signing a one-year contract with the Devils, and as the trade deadline looms, the Devils will have to decide whether to hold on to Parise to make a playoff drive or to trade him this season, when they could almost certainly get a king's ransom in exchange.

    With the Devils' current five-game winning streak, they have built a cushion of six points, keeping them in the playoffs, but it would only take one cold streak to knock New Jersey back to the edge of the playoff bubble.

    At that point, they might start consider a deal for Parise.

    Should that happen, here are eight teams that would love to see Parise traded.

Los Angeles Kings

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    The Los Angeles Kings have made no efforts to conceal their interest in Parise (via HockeyBuzz.com) Los Angeles has been looking for a star forward since losing out on the Kovalchuk sweepstakes. For more than a year, the Kings have been thrown around as a possible destination for Parise, according to ESPN.

    The Kings currently sit at seventh in the Western Conference. But with the exceptions of Anze Kopitar and Jonathan Quick, no one on the team has met expectations this year. The team's top two natural left wings, Simon Gagne and Dustin Penner, have had extremely lackluster seasons, combining for 30 points (compared to Parise's 47).

    Should the Devils fall out of contention, the Kings would almost assuredly be after Parise, and they have the players to make a persuasive deal.

    Backup goaltender Jonathan Bernier, defenseman Jack Johnson and defensive prospect Slava Voynov are among the pieces that could be offered, and the right combination might just be too much for the Devils to ignore.

Minnesota Wild

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    There's perhaps no team that would love to have Parise more than the Wild. While every team might be impressed by his skill, Minnesota has much deeper interests.

    Zach Parise's father, J.P., was a Minnesota North Star, and at the time of Zach's birth (in Minneapolis), their assistant coach. When Zach played at Shattuck-Saint Mary's (in Minnesota), his father was coach. 

    The Wild currently sit tied for eighth in the West, and are just 3-5-2 in their last 10. A player like Parise could quite possibly lead them deep into the playoffs.

    If the Devils are interested in goaltending, the Wild have two prime prospects in Josh Harding and Matt Hackett. Should Parise be moved, the Wild would certainly be clamoring to get a deal done, and Parise might favor playing closer to his family, according to the Star Tribune.

Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Whether the Maple Leafs would be able to put together an attractive enough package remains to be seen, but regardless of where he goes, Parise's exit from Jersey would be a plus for Toronto.

    The Leafs are currently seventh in the East with a three-point cushion. The Devils would only move Parise if they were struggling, but trading him would definitely remove them from playoff contention.

    With the Devils out, there would be an opening for the Leafs to move up in the standings.

    If the Leafs were to pursue Parise, they could put together a good package of prospects. A line of Kessel centering Parise and Lupul would be pretty terrifying, potentially among the best in the league.

Ottawa Senators

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    According to Hockey Buzz.com, the Senators may be interested in Parise. It's extremely unlikely he'd end up there, but the Senators would stand to benefit from Parise's absence.

    The Sens are currently eighth in the East, but only by two points. In their last 10 games, they are 2-7-1.

    A major storyline of the first half of the season was the Senators' unexpected success, and the phenomenal starts of Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek and Erik Karlsson. Though Karlsson continues to impress, the production of Spezza and Michalek has plummeted.

    Unless their leaders wake up and continue to carry the team, it's unlikely the Senators would have much of a chance late in the season unless the Devils drop out of contention.

Anaheim Ducks

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    Coming into the season, expectations were high for the Anaheim Ducks. Corey Perry was coming off of an MVP season, and his linemates, Bobby Ryan and Ryan Getzlaf, seemed to be constantly improving.

    The three represented one of the most dangerous lines in the league.

    Cut to mid-season. The RPG line has been extremely disappointing.

    Each linemate has between 32 and 41 points: good numbers, but not good enough for elite players. Perry and Ryan are minus-8 and minus-6, respectively.

    Getzlaf is a miserable minus-16.

    The Ducks were among the worst in the league for much of the first half of the season, but have slowly been improving. With a record of 7-2-1 in their last 10, the Ducks have brought themselves within eight points of a playoff spot but still have five teams they'd have to leapfrog to get there.

    A trade for Parise would likely involve one of Anaheim's big three.

    The Devils may also be interested in Lubomir Visnovsky, the puck-moving veteran who led defensemen in points last season. Ryan and Getzlaf both have a lot of skill and a lot of potential, but a trade for Parise would give Anaheim more immediate talent and might be enough to get the team into the postseason.

Pittsburgh Penguins

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    The Pittsburgh Penguins are hard to predict. They are without their captain—the league's best player—Sidney Crosby.

    They've also dealt with injuries to key players, including Kris Letang and Jordan Staal.

    On the other hand, Evgeni Malkin and James Neal have been unstoppable, and with Marc-Andre Fleury's consistent play, the team keeps chugging along.

    The Pens are currently tied with the Devils in the standings, but can they keep it up?

    The Devils are 12-3-1 against Pittsburgh since the beginning of the 2009-10 season. Even if they drop out of contention, the Devils could still wreak havoc with Pittsburgh in their two remaining games. On the other hand, the loss of Parise would likely disrupt the Devils' chemistry, creating a huge opening for the Pens to move up in the standings.

New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers

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    The Rangers and Flyers currently sit at Nos. 1 and 2 in the division, respectively.

    With their current winning streak, the Devils have climbed as close as two points behind the Flyers and six points behind the East-leading Rangers.

    Both New York and Philly are going to make the playoffs, regardless of how the Devils do. They're consistently among the best teams in the league, and each team has a possible Hart nominee: Henrik Lundqvist for the Rangers, Claude Giroux for the Flyers.

    But this goes beyond that.

    The Atlantic Division is fiercely competitive: Currently, four of its five teams are tied for eighth or better in the league. Divisional games tend to be pretty exhausting.

    From the perspective of a Rangers' or Flyers' fan, the Devils' loss of Parise would be splendid. The Devils' offense would be crippled, the team would lose its captain and the Devils would essentially be admitting defeat.

    For two teams that hate the Devils so much, it would be a mini-Christmas.