The Devils failed to sign Zach Parise to a long-term deal -- but at least they avoided arbitration with their 27-year-old left winger, signing him to a one-year, $6 million contract on Friday night.
And in our book, that’s a victory. Albeit a minor one.
Arbitration hearings never seem to end well.
Insults are fired. Feelings get hurt. Relationships become awkward and damaged.
So it was imperative that the Devils and Parise avoid all that. And they did, just five days before the scheduled Aug. 3 hearing .
Would it have been great if the Devils could've locked up Parise to a 10- to 15-year contract? Of course.
Would it have been great if all the speculation about his future could’ve ended? Absolutely.
But keeping him in the fold -- even just for a year -- and away from arbitration was the next best thing.
(And don't forget, he is coming off a serious knee injury as well.)
The Devils had to settle with Parise, sure. They just didn't have to settle in court room.
And now, they can move on to bigger and better things.
Ilya Kovalchuk may be a more talented player, but it's Parise that's viewed as the face of the franchise, a homegrown superstar in the prime of his career who very-well may be named the team's next captain before the start of the 2011-12 season.
If the Devils were smart -- and for the most part they have been ever since Lou Lamoriello was named GM prior to the start of the 1987-88 season, they have been -- they'd make that move immediately.
Make that commitment to Parise, and hope he makes that commitment back.
Lamoriello knew he had to make a move so he could fit Parise under the cap, and he did just that on Thursday afternoon, sending Brian Rolston and his $5 million contract to the Islanders in exchange for Trent Hunter and his $2 million deal.
So now the Devils have two superstars. And it's up to Peter DeBoer to determine how to utilize them.
Will he play Kovalchuk and Parise on the same line? If they do, who will move to right wing?
And if they don’t, which of the two will play with Travis Zajac? After all, both of them have been able to develop chemistry with the team’s top-line center.
Either way, these aren’t bad “problems” to have. In fact, they’re not really problems at all.
The Devils understand that when it comes down to it, the best way they’re going to be able to sell Parise on staying long-term is by winning. And if that doesn’t work, they can always open their wallets. Considering they could have somewhere around $25 million to work with next offseason, that shouldn’t be an issue.
In the past, the Devils have not been able to retain their superstar players. Scott Niedermayer, Brian Rafalski , Scott Gomez and Paul Martin have all bolted in recent years, and the Devils haven’t been the same team since.
But by inking Kovalchuk last offseason, Lamoriello made it abundantly clear that that isn’t going to become a trend post lockout.
The Devils will be prepared to anti-up to Parise. They can only hope he likes them as much as they like him.