Parise: My biggest concern this season

ESPN.com's Scott Burnside caught up with Zach Parise on Thursday at the NHL's annual media tour in New York City. This piece comes from his CrossCheck's blog.

New Jersey Devils star Zach Parise got engaged over the summer, as well as entering into a contract of another kind after signing a one-year, $6 million deal with the team on the eve of arbitration. The deal could see the team's most important player become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

"It got to be pretty stressful," Parise told ESPN.com on Thursday. "I had booked a flight and getting ready to go to arbitration, which I didn't think was going to happen, and finally we figured it out toward the end. And we're going to continue talking like we said after we signed … and try and figure something out after the New Year."

But until a deal is signed, the specter of departing the team that drafted him with the 17th overall pick in 2003 -- and the potential that he could be dealt if the Devils don't think they can sign him long-term -- will hang over Parise and the team.

Still, the former U.S. Olympian, who missed all but 13 games last season with a knee injury, insisted he doesn't think it will distract him from his focus.

"I don't want to say easy, but I think once you get into the rhythm of the season, I think that for me personally, that's something that I'll be able to kind of put aside and just play," the 27-year-old said. "I don't foresee it being a problem. I think it'll be professional and everything will be fine and it won't hinder my play at all."

But has Parise considered the prospect of hitting the open market next summer?

"I think, just in particular, after missing all of last season, my biggest concern was this season," he said. "Now that I'm healthy and more focused on this season, which all the guys are on our team, just concentrate on this season and go from there."