On April 18, New Jersey Devils President/GM/Ruler of All He Surveys Lou Lamoriello said the following about re-signing star winger Zach Parise(notes), who is tagged for restricted free agency this summer:
"I don't think I can say anymore than anybody else can say. He's an integral part, has been since he's been here and in everybody's mind he will continue to be that. So, we'll do everything we possibly can as expeditious as possible."
It is now June 11. Parise told Tom Gulitti of Fire and Ice that "nothing" is going on with his contract talks with the Devils; Gulitti feels that "it appears inevitable that the Devils will file for team-elected arbitration before next week's deadline."
From Fire and Ice:
"We talked about that with my agent," Parise said. "I guess you kind of have to look at it as a player has rights, the team has rights. If that's what they want to do, that's what they want to do. Is it a big deal? No. Whether they choose to do it or not, I don't know. That's something we have talked about and I guess we'll see if it happens."
Filing for arbitration does not mean the sides are locked into going to a hearing. In fact, Lamoriello and Parise's agents, Wade Arnott and Don Meehan, could negotiate up until an arbitrator's decision is rendered.
Still, there has been plenty of time already for the Devils to conduct negotiations and get a deal done without needing to file for arbitration
Parise notes that the Devils have some other priorities in the offseason: The No. 4 pick in the upcoming draft, finding a new coach, seeing if there are any free agents worthy of a 17-year contract. (OK, he didn't say that last one.)
There may still be time to hammer out a long-term deal. Or Parise could go to arbitration with the Devils — where Lamoriello is notorious for his candor — get a one-year deal and then be one season away from unrestricted free-agent status.
Then again, an arbitration deal for this season — after a season that was basically lost to injury for Parise — might benefit the cap-strapped Devils, who will clear Brian Rolston's(notes) contract off the cap in 2012 and are projected to have $26.3 million open in 2012-13, via Cap Geek. Get Parise in for a 1-year deal, sign him long-term during the season. But that risks UFA status. Ask the Dallas Stars about that risk.