New Jersey Devils captain and Zach Parise was the marquee free agent in a thin 2012 class, and three days after the start of free agency, he’s still the headline name, as he has yet to sign a contract. Parise, who plays forward, is only 27 years old, and has tallied at least 30 goals in five of his seven NHL seasons, including a career-high 45 in 2008-09. The NHL is abuzz with rumors and speculations as to where he’ll land, so let’s take a look at the most likely landing spots:
Pittsburgh Penguins: Parise is a close friend of Penguins’ captain and all-world player Sidney Crosby, and the chance to play with one of the best players on the planet on a team with legitimate Cup aspirations could be a strong motivating factor in Parise’s eventual decision regarding his next NHL team. Parise would join an offense that already features Crosby, 40-goal scorer James Neal and 2012 Hart and Art Ross Trophy winner Evgeni Malkin. That would make for a lethal top-six forward group (along with Chris Kunitz), giving Pittsburgh a seemingly unstoppable offense.
Key selling points: Cup hopes, playing on an elite offense
Drawbacks: May face backlash/criticism for joining a team that’s already so loaded with talent (Lebron James Syndrome)
Minnesota Wild: Parise is a Minnesota native, and may want to come home to play out his next several NHL seasons. The Wild could certainly use his goal-scoring talents as well; Minnesota had an offense that ranked dead-last in the NHL this past season, and no one on the team scored more than 24 goals (Dany Heatley).
Key selling points: Coming home, going somewhere he’s needed
Drawbacks: Minnesota’s not a team with legitimate Cup, or even playoff, aspirations
New Jersey Devils: This is the team he’s spent his whole career with, the team he is the captain of, and the team he came two wins away from winning a Stanley Cup with this past season. There’s lots of reasons for Parise to sign a long-term mega-deal with the New Jersey Devils. The biggest issue here is money: Parise will command anywhere from eight to ten million dollars a year, and the Devils are a team with significant financial issues, given their debt and unstable ownership situation.
Key selling points: familiarity, almost winning the Cup with Jersey last year, captaincy
Drawbacks: Money, Parise may want a fresh start somewhere else
So, where will Zach Parise land? In all likelihood, back in New Jersey. He came so close to winning a Stanley Cup with them last year, this is the team that he’s spent his whole career with, and a team that honored him with the captaincy last year. He’s the franchise player; might as well continue to be.
By Arun Morace