A few weeks ago, we discussed how it was perfectly acceptable for fans of the New Jersey Devils to consider panicking due to a lack of any news on the contract talks between the New Jersey Devils and their 26-year-old veteran left winger, Zach Parise.
On Friday, the Devils took the first step in ensuring Parise will be wearing the Red, Black and White for at least one more year by filing for team-elected arbitration. By filing, the Devils prevent any other NHL team from signing Parise to an offer-sheet, due to his restricted free agent status.
When one hears the word “arbitration,” you may be inclined to panic or even cringe. Usually, arbitration is not a good thing. One side feels a person is worth “x” while the player places his personal value at “y,” the arbitrator awards a contract somewhere in between the two numbers. The problem is when the player approaches the team with their value and the two sides are very far apart, tensions rise. When the team sees the gap as being too great and immediately file for arbitration, you might as well consider it a no-win situation.
Well Devils’ fans, put the safety switches back on your panic triggers.
With filing for team-elected arbitration, the Devils have guaranteed that Parise will be on the left wing at least for one more year.
The biggest advantage of filing for arbitration, however, is the protection the Devils now have in regards to Parise.
First, they have time. The two sides can negotiate on a new contract up until the arbitrator’s ruling. Arbitration hearings cannot start any earlier than July 20th, giving the Devils and Parise another 19 days past to hammer out a deal.
The largest, and more than likely the main reason behind the arbitration filing, is that the Devils have now prevented any other team in the league from negotiating an offer sheet with Parise. This comes as a bit of relief for Devils fans as the potential suitors for Parise’s services were quite daunting, the Buffalo Sabres and Los Angeles Kings were the most probable threats.
With the NHL salary cap unofficially going up to almost $64 million, it might be a safe move for Devils fans to not worry about losing their arguably top fan favorite. The NHLPA Executive Board voted to trigger their 5% growth factor in the salary cap on Monday, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie.
The two sides are talking, sure it may be lip-service to the media to help ease hostilities, but both seem to be on the same page. Parise wants to stay in Jersey for the long haul and the Devils want him to do the same, so logically it should only be a matter of time before the two sides reach a deal.
Expect Parise to [deservedly] earn at least $6 million. Devils should be looking long term of 5-8 years.
Drafting Their Next Minion
With all signs pointing to Red Deer Rebel center, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins being selected first overall by the Edmonton Oilers, the remaining two positions leave the Devils and their fans on the edge of their seats being in unfamiliar territory.
Not since 1991 have the Devils drafted this early in the Entry Draft. That year, they selected 3rd overall and took a Canadian defender named Scott Neidermayer. A Norris Trophy, a Conn Smythe trophy, four Stanley Cups and two gold medals later, Neidermayer goes into the record books as one of the best defenseman in Devils history, let alone NHL history.
“Can the Devils find such a player in this year’s draft?” is question that won’t be answered anytime soon, however, finding out what type of player they’ll select is less than 24-hours away.
Defender Adam Larsson of Skelleftea of the Swedish Elite League, Winger Gabriel Landeskog of the Kitchener Rangers and Jonathan Huberdeau of the Saint John Sea Dogs are the next 3 predicted to go in the Draft.
Larsson and Landeskog are both considered NHL-ready prospects while Huberdeau could use a little more refining before making the jump to the big-show.
While the Devils have a glaring need at the Defensive position, especially when considering they are desperate for a puck-moving defenseman, drafting an NHL-ready natural right winger in Landeskog can add something very potent to the Devils offense which struggled to find its groove last year.
Another positive for Landeskog is his familiarity with both Matias Tedenby and Jacob Josefson, who together could form a dangerous line in the future for the Devils. He would also bring size and grittiness in front of the net, leading to goals from the dirty areas.
Larsson could jump right into the defensive mix with a little bit of AHL seasoning and could prove to fill the puck-moving void that has plagued the Devils’ blue-line since the departure of Brian Rafalski left for Detroit.
Huberdeau could fit eventually into the 2nd line center position and possibly into the #1 role should Travis Zajac depart New Jersey. His quick hands and speed make him an indispensible asset for any team. He also told Allan Walsh at the Octogon Draft Dinner, “Allan, I don’t want to look at the Cup, I want to win the Cup.” Impressive, confident quotes from a prospect on the eve of what could be the first of many biggest nights of his life as a professional hockey player.
Prediction: Should both Colorado and Florida pass on him, the Devils will draft Landeskog at #4. If not, look for Larsson to be the next bet.
Earlier this week, the Devils traded former Colgate center David MacIntyre to the Minnesota Wild for defenseman Maxim Noreau. MacIntyre moves on to his 4th team, but only 2nd to actually play at some professional level for while Noreau moves to a team where he has the outside potential to crack the roster out of training camp as a 6th or 7th defender. Odds are, however Noreau will be a primary defender at the AHL level, helping out the Albany Devils improve on last year.
The Devils also announced on Wednesday that they had signed Jay Leach to a 1-year, 2-way contract at the league minimum. Leach, who filled in when the Devils’ defense was riddled with numerous injuries for seven games, is staying on as a mentor role for the AHL-affiliate. At 31, he does not have much to offer for the NHL Devils, but could still find himself filling a spot start here and there next season.