The NHL free agency period doesn’t begin for a couple of weeks. However, that didn’t stop New Jersey Devils forward Zach Parise from adding a little gasoline to the NHL free agency rumors Wednesday. The 27 year-old winger is set to become one of the most sought after free agents this summer and figures to be a prime target of New York Rangers GM Glen Sather. However, Parise has put the brakes on such talk by saying he would not consider the Rangers this summer and that his first priority is to re-sign with the Devils.
During the playoffs Parise’s father fueled the rumor mill when he made comments to the media that said Zach would “fit right in” with the Rangers. Apparently Zach doesn’t feel the same way as his father. Parise, the 17th pick of the 2003 draft, has spent his entire career with the Devils and has registered 194 goals and 216 assists in seven years with the Devils. He missed most of last season with a torn meniscus but was healthy this season, playing in all 82 games plus playoffs and registering 31 goals and 38 assists.
It is understandable why Parise would be so standoffish when it comes to the Rangers. He has been part of a heated rivalry since 2005. He is coming off a tough Stanley Cup loss to the Los Angeles Kings and believes the Devils have what it takes to win Lord Stanley’s Cup. Oh, and he is the captain of that team. Parise has that to think about. You didn’t really expect him to say he was looking forward to signing with the Rangers did you? Even if he is open to being a free agent why announce it to the world right now?
If Parise doesn’t re-sign with the Devils before free agency begins he would be a fool not to listen to every offer that comes his way. He can do with them what he pleases. He wouldn’t hang up on Glen Sather if Slather placed a call to him to gauge his interest, I will guarantee you that. After all, Parise did tell the media not to make a headline out of his words, something that has obviously been ignored across the globe. This could even be a ploy to get the Rangers to offer more money, perhaps adding a year or two on the back-end of the contract at big money instead of front-loading it like the Rangers did with Brad Richards last summer.
The fact of the matter is the Rangers are a team on the rise in the NHL. They need a little extra scoring punch, especially with Marian Gaborik expected to miss the beginning of the year after shoulder surgery. Parise is still fairly young and provides that scoring punch. He would fit into a John Tortarella system without a problem as he is already one of the best all-around forwards in the NHL. The Rangers, among other teams including the Devils, will line up to throw money at the best free agent winger this summer. It will be up to Parise to decide which offer and which team fits best. Until he signs on a dotted line anything he says is nothing more than hot air. Parise will take the best offer when all is said and done.