Zach Parise tops trade list

This morning ESPN Insider's Craig Custance posted a comprehensive look at the top 10 names who could be traded before the end of the season. The name topping the list? The Devils' Zach Parise.

Here's a snippet from the full breakdown:

"Being named the captain is a nice first step in keeping Parise in New Jersey long term, but it doesn't guarantee anything. Parise is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent after this season, and if he doesn't sign an extension before the trade deadline, Lou Lamoriello will get calls for the talented winger. That still doesn't mean a trade is probable."

One NHL source doubts the Devils would deal their captain, stating, "When was the last time a franchise player was traded?"

Well, if you're asking, perhaps Mike Richards and Jeff Carter have an answer. Ilya Kovalchuk seems to be raising his hand as well.

Unlike the source, Custance appears to have this one in the proper context though. There's no way the Devils want to part ways with Parise. But ... there's a reason he tops this top-10 list.

The Devils absolutely cannot allow him to hit the market. There are just too many teams out there (cough, Los Angeles, cough) who would love to add a former 45-goal scorer to their arsenal. Cap space is no longer an issue for the Devils, not with a mere $39 million projected for next season's roster. Instead, the biggest factor is likely Parise's willingness to stay on in New Jersey. If the Devils turn in another season like 2010-11, a rebuild may be necessary before they make another run at the Cup. Would Parise want to wait if he has other attractive offers dangled in front of him?

If you're Lamoriello you can't afford to let Parise walk away in the offseason for nothing, certainly not when you have needs to address -- and a trade involving a player of Parise's caliber could address a lot of them. An NHL-ready player, a pick and a prospect is probably the starting point for any offer. And the Devils could use all three of those things.

It all makes for some early-season intrigue, but keep in mind this is little more than speculation at this time. Of course, that speculation will likely linger until Parise signs on the dotted line.