The New Jersey Devils officially announced on Twitter that they have re-signed Zach Parise to a one-year contract. As for the term of the deal, Bob McKenzie of TSN has tweeted that it's a $6 million deal. Additionally, Tom Gulitti has confirmed this news and has some quotes from Lou at Fire & Ice.
As I type this, the sounds of thunder are in the background in central New Jersey. I hope that's not a sign or something beyond the weather. This is certainly some surprising news, since the Devils and Parise still had 4 days to talk this out. Thus, I don't fully believe that a short-term deal was needed because of the arbitration hearing on August 3. Regardless if you do or do not, this contract is not something to fully celebrate. It's not even completely good news either. Let's discuss this a little bit further after the jump.
This does mean there will be no arbitration hearings for the Devils this year. This is definitely good, there will not be any harsh meetings where the player-organization relationship is broken. The other definite good news is that the Devils will not be riding the cap ceiling in 2011-12 short of any new signings or cap additions. At $6 million, the Devils will have around $2 million, possibly $3 million depending who ends up on the final roster, in cap space to use for any midseason moves or room for calling players up from Albany in case of injury. It's difficult and frustrating to not do what you want to do because of a lack of cap space, so it's a welcome change of pace over last season.
Those two benefits aside, Devils fans have every reason to be concerned. Reaction in the comments to Kevin's FanShot when the news was breaking is understandably mixed. If Zach Parise truly wants out of New Jersey, then all he has to do is play out this season. He'll be an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2012. Should he return to form, a lot of teams are going to line up and throw a ton of money at Parise - either forcing the Devils to go to extremes to keep him or forcing the Devils out of the picture. This is a real and scary possibility. Likewise, during the season, there's going to be all sorts of pressure to try and trade him should there be even an inkling he would want out on July 1, 2012. That is also a real and scary possibility. While that may be entirely Parise's decision, the blame will fully rest with Lou and Jeff - and rightfully so. Angry and upset Devils fans will point to this move as a sign of things to come. I can't say I would disagree with such blame either.
However, that only comes into play on July 1, 2012. Given that's over 11 months away, I don't think it's time to get too depressed or worked up about it. Besides, Lou and the organization did make it perfectly clear that they intend to sign Parise to a long-term deal. Here's what Lou told Gulitti, emphasis mine:
"Once you go to arbitration, you can only get a one-year situation in this case," Lamoriello said. "So, really what we have done is avoid arbitration by settling on one year with the understanding and intent to take whatever time is necessary to get a long-term deal."
So an extension isn't out of the picture. That's heartening.
We're going to have to wait for such an extension, though. As Gulitti did note in his post about the deal, a new contract beyond the 2011-12 season cannot be officially signed until January 1, 2012 according to the current CBA. It is upon this fact that I believe the one-year contract offer was intentional. Zach Parise and his people feel he's worth quite a bit because of what he has done in the past. While the Devils understand and appreciate that, Parise tore his meniscus last season and played only one game after surgery. It's still unknown whether Zach Parise is still the same Zach Parise we all know, love, and worth large piles of money.
Therefore, should Parise play like he always has been - a dynamic skater, positive possession beast, and a point machine - during or after 2011-12, then he'll get an extension for more years and more dollars. Once it's done and it's a long-term deal, this will be forgotten. Alternatively, should Parise show that he's not what he once was, then either a smaller/cheaper deal would be offered; or perhaps the Devils would let him walk entirely if he's so far off from what he once was as a player. Basically, Parise has to prove he's still amazing; and then the Devils will have sometime between January 1, 2012 and June 30, 2012 to keep him. That's the angle I'm taking upon this one-year deal; namely because it's the only one that makes any sense to me. Of course, I would have preferred the security of a long-term deal instead of going through the added stress of further negotiations, rumors, and concern over whether Parise will stay or re-sign and/or whether the Devils will or will not give him the money he wants.
I ask you, the reader, do you think it is wise for the Devils to determine whether Parise can play he used to for part or all of 2011-12 before giving him a big deal? Please let me know what you think in the comments. Thanks for reading.
One more reminder to Lou, Jeff, and the Devils organization: You do not want to let Parise go to July 1 if he proves himself in 2011-12. If he's great, keep him - players like him are rare.