Getty ImagesZach Parise cut off the questioner after the New Jersey Devils' Game 6 loss to the Los Angeles Kings, who hoisted the Stanley Cup for the first time on Monday night. It was the inevitable question about his future with the team as an unrestricted free agent.
"I'm not talking about that," was Parise's response.
But when it comes to the Devils, it's all anyone will want to talk about for the next few weeks — especially with Martin Brodeur sounding very much like he'll be back for another season, draining that situation of lingering doubt.
Parise is the Devils' captain, drafted by the team in 2003 and playing all of his 502 career NHL games with them. Said Brodeur last night:
"They need to try to lock him in and lure him into staying. He's a franchise player and a guy the fans love. As a captain, he's a great leader, and he did a great job first year as a captain to bring a team counted out early in the season to what we accomplished."
But Parise is just one of several question marks for next season facing the Eastern Conference champions.
Among the Devils' mysteries:
The Devils' biggest playoff revelation could be in for a free-agent windfall. Salvador posted 14 points in 24 games and played to a plus-9 — the steadiest blue-liner for New Jersey and one of their best stories, having missed all of last season with an inner ear malady. His playoff point total would have tied his career best for an entire season.
Salvador made $2.9 million last season. He's 36 years old.
The Devils' best line on many nights during the postseason? Their fourth line of Steve Bernier, Ryan Carter and Stephen Gionta. All three are unrestricted free agents. Was this lightning in a bottle for coach Peter DeBoer, or is this a group that can return to give the team a solid energy line?
The Devils' assistant coach, last seen unleashing hell on the Game 6 officials after a linesman picked Anton Volchenkov on the Kings' fourth goal, is considered a dark horse candidate to fill the Washington Capitals' coaching vacancy. His work with the Devils' special teams was outstanding this season, even if they underwhelmed in the playoffs. Losing him from DeBoer's staff could be significant.
The Parise Derby starts now, with nearly every team in the NHL likely to kick the tires on the 27-year-old winger (28 next month). That includes the New York Rangers, the Philadelphia Flyers, the Detroit Red Wings, the Minnesota Wild and even the Los Angeles Kings.
Indeed, Parise can expect offers modeled after the nine-year, $60 million contract Brad Richards signed last summer with the Rangers, under which the center is receiving $24 million the first two years, including a $10 million signing bonus last July and an $8 million signing bonus due next month.
While the Devils have ownership issues they're in the process of settling, President/GM/Ruler of All He Surveys Lou Lamoriello has said the team has the finances to bring Parise back. It's just a matter of whether Parise wants to remain a Devil.
The next two years will dramatically change the Devils. One assumes 2012-13 will be Brodeur's last ride. As of right now, the Devils have five players under contract for 2013-14 — creating the opportunity for a massive reconfiguration of their roster. Question is, will Lamoriello be the one to reconfigure it? Or does his time end when Brodeur's does?