Parise could be facing final months as a Devil Print
Atlantic
Written by Bill Weisbrod   
Friday, 03 February 2012 21:07

With a few months to go before becoming an unrestricted free agent and the Devils being $80 million in debt, Zach Parise could be playing his final months in New Jersey.

Bill WeisbrodZach Parise and the Devils began the post-All Star break portion of the schedule firmly on the Eastern Conference’s playoff bubble and for both the individual and the team, early returns have been positive.

In two home games in Newark though Friday, the Devils have rallied for a shootout victory over the Rangers and a regulation win over the Canadiens. Those wins have given New Jersey 59 points, which is good for seventh but one point ahead of Toronto and one behind Ottawa.

Parise has three goals in those two contests. After a sluggish start to the season, the left wing has found his game at the right time. As coach Pete DeBoer said after the win over the Rangers, “we’re at that time of the year where they’re all big.”

But for the New Jersey captain, this spring's upcoming stretch drive is bigger than most.

Two months plus potential playoffs separate Parise, the Devils’ best homegrown player of the post-lockout era, from unrestricted free agency. A strong end to the 2011-12 season for Parise, however, could put him out of the team’s price range over the summer.

Parise will likely earn a raise on his current $6 million one-year deal, and the size of that raise will be determined this spring.

The Devils, however, are facing financial issues unrelated to the resigning of the 27-year-old star.

The team is currently $80 million in debt, and the NHL is providing it with early payment of some revenue. And co-owner Ray Chambers is reportedly trying to rid himselfDavid Clarkson of his 47 percent share of the franchise.

At a practice this week player representative David Clarkson said the team’s financial situation did not weigh heavily on the minds of players.

“I think everything figures itself out, somehow,” Clarkson told reporters. “The thing I know is that our locker room is the exact same as it was before. It doesn’t affect us as players. We just have to go out and continue to do our job."

And it will not effect the Devils personnel for the remainder of the season, either.

Mark Everson of the The New York Post reported on Tuesday that team does not plan to trade Parise before the NHL trade deadline on February 27.

That means he has until at least early April to create a few more winning memories for Devils fans before the reality of free agency sets in.

“We’ve got to move on and get prepared,” Parise said after the win over the Rangers. “Because it’s not going to be getting any easier.”

NOTES

On Tuesday, the Islanders announced that they will play a preseason game against the Devils on October 2, 2012. at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn - the future home of the NBA Nets. The Islanders are currently searching for a new home arena. ...The Rangers traded rarely-used center Erik Christensen and a conditional 2013 seventh-round pick to the Minnesota Wild for minor-league forward Casey Wellman. The twenty-four-year-old Wellman was signed by the Wild as an undrafted free agent out of UMass-Amherst. He has 14 goals and 12 assists in 26 games this season for the Houston Aeros plus two goals and five assists in 14 games with the Wild. ...On Thursday the Flyers acquired minor league forward Matt Ford in exchange for defenseman Kevin Marshall. Ford, 27, has 10 goals and 18 assists in 39 games for the Hershey Bears. ...On Tuesday the Penguins announced captain Sidney Crosby “is suffering from a soft-tissue injury of the neck that could be causing neurological issues.” Read more later this week on Hockeyprimetime.com Steve Wozniak. 

Photos by Getty Images

Last Updated on Saturday, 04 February 2012 02:42