If the New Jersey Devils and the filet mignon of the NHL’s 2012 free agency class, Zach Parise, don’t come to terms by noon on July 1, that doesn’t necessarily mean the Devils won’t re-sign their star.
At least, that’s what Parise was insisting on Tuesday.
The perennial 30-goal-scoring winger told both the Star-Ledger and The Powerplay on Home Ice SirusXM Radio Tuesday that the Devils, the only pro team Parise has ever played for in his seven-year career, are still in the mix.
In fact, Parise explained that he spoke with New Jersey GM Lou Lamoriello and both parties are hopeful that they can work out a deal to keep the star with the Stanley Cup finalists.
“If it does happen to get to Sunday, that’s by no means saying I don’t want to go back to New Jersey,” Parise told the Star-Ledger. “I know the perception would be, ‘Oh, he wants out.’ But that’s not the case. I haven’t been lying. I’ve said all along how much I like playing in New Jersey. So that wouldn’t be me saying, ‘I don’t want to play there anymore.’ “
Parise has already expressed his disinterest in joining the Devils’ Hudson River rivals, the New York Rangers, but the Detroit Red Wings, Minnesota Wild and Pittsburgh Penguins have all been rumoured to be planning offers for the league’s best unrestricted forward.
“If I just based my opinion on what Zach’s going to do on media reports, he’d definitely be in another jersey. We’d have no chance of getting him. He’s been going everywhere other than New Jersey,” Devils coach Peter DeBoer said Wednesday on Sportsnet The Fan 590’s Brady and Lang. “Zach’s been very consistent. He wanted to play on a winning team. We showed him this year, obviously with his leadership, that we can be that type of team.
“He enjoys the area, and I think he enjoys being a Devil,” DeBoer went on. “So I’m optimistic that we’ll keep him.”
Parise’s optimism is tempered.
“If (no deal is made by Sunday), my agents (Wade Arnott and Don Meehan) have done a very good job of doing the best they can to prepare me for it,” Parise said. “First and foremost, we want to try to get things worked out with New Jersey.”
Parise, 27, made $6 million in 2011-12, when he scored 31 goals and 38 assists in 82 games played.
Parise would not speculate on the odds of he and the Devils reaching an agreement prior to Sunday’s free agency opening.
“But if it does get to July 1,” he said, “it’s going to be a bit overwhelming.”