Maple Leafs Should Inquire About Zach Parise’s Price Tag

The Toronto Maple Leafs are paper-thin on the left side of their forward group, and now that Zach Hyman is talking to other teams, their offense could go from bad to worse. While management will consider all their options, including the trade market and free agency, they should inquire about recently bought-out free agent Zach Parise. While this Zach won’t replace the other Zach, Parise could be a solid depth option who can play on the second power-play unit. However, it will come down to dollars and cents.

Earlier this week, the Minnesota Wild decided to turn their attention to youth and bought out the four remaining years of Parise’s contract and fellow veteran Ryan Suter’s. Newsflash: 13-year contracts don’t work, and there’s a good reason that teams can no longer sign a player for more than eight seasons. Parise struggled through some injuries last season and found himself on the outside looking in at times. But he still has hockey left to give, and considering his production the past few seasons, Maple Leafs’ general manager Kyle Dubas should at least find out his price tag.

Parise Doesn’t Hold Much Leverage on the Open Market

After being bought out, Parise now has little leverage on the open market since every other team knows he’s still getting paid by the Wild. Parise finished last season with 18 points in 47 games, however, he showed up and tallied three points in four playoff games. While he scored 28 and 25 goals in 2018-19 and 2019-20, respectively, general managers will point to his recent decline and health concerns. If he wants a multi-year deal, the Maple Leafs should walk away, but if the soon-to-be 37-year-old is interested in signing a one-year deal for under $1.5 million, Dubas should consider it.

The Maple Leafs aren’t going to be the only team interested in the veteran winger. Parise is expected to hear from the New York Islanders, Los Angeles Kings, Boston Bruins and the New York Rangers. The Islanders may have the upper hand since he’s been linked to the team for a long time and has strong ties with Isles’ general manager Lou Lamoriello from their days together with the New Jersey Devils. Interest could drive up the price, but at this point, if he’s hovering around the $1-1.5 million mark, the Leafs could make that work next season.

Parise a Maple Leafs Fans Growing Up

Parise’s late father, Jean-Paul, was a left-winger who played 890 games in the NHL and scored 594 points. In almost 900 games, he played one game for the Maple Leafs in the 1967-68 season. While this was long before Zach was in the picture, it might have sparked something in the youngster as this picture surfaced after he was bought out:

Perhaps we can go from John Tavares’ pyjamas to Parise’s hat – it doesn’t have the same ring to it, I know. While his father was known for his defensive play, Parise is known for having some of the best offensive instincts in the game, and if it weren’t for a few shooting slumps last season, his numbers would have been better. During the 2020-21 season, he had stretches of 9, 11, and 14 games without a goal, and his ice time ranged from 21:11 on opening night to sitting in the press box. He didn’t have a role on the Wild last season, but the stability of heading to Toronto to play on the fourth line and second power-play unit could go a long way to boosting his confidence. Just ask Jason Spezza. 

Leafs Management Have Their Hands Full

Dubas and company are working tirelessly this offseason, with contract negotiations for their free agents, trade discussions with other GMs, and the Seattle Kraken expansion draft to worry about. As it stands currently, Toronto has Ilya Mikheyev, Pierre Engvall, Wayne Simmonds, Alexander Kerfoot and Nick Robertson under contract as the team’s best options for the left side.

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Contract talks with Hyman have not gone well, and Toronto is expected to lose Kerfoot to Seattle, creating a giant hole at third-line center and taking away another option on the left wing. The Maple Leafs should have Parise on their radar and should be asking for his price tag. If he is too expensive for them, Dubas can put the phone down and thank Parise for his time. It’s as simple as that. 

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