By agreeing with Zach Parise on a one-year $6 million deal, the New Jersey Devils face the risk of the 27-year old fleeing for unrestricted free agency at the end of the 2011-12 season. That circumstance, of course, hinges on the two sides failing to work out a long-term deal in the next ten months. For the time being, Lou Lamoriello and co. have bought themselves some time to work towards a solution that’s much more viable to the future of the Devils franchise, even if it means listening to the pipe dreams of various fan bases drooling at the thought of Parise donning their colours (looking at you, Leafs fans).
Parise called the new one-year pact a “best-case scenario for this situation”, and we believe he’s fairly accurate in saying so.
Parise on the deal, via Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice:
“This was the best-case scenario for this situation. This is what we agreed upon. Everybody was very professional about the way it was handled.”
“I don’t want to get into too much about what we talked about. For right now, this is what we agreed upon. I’m happy about it and I’m excited about it and looking forward to the season.”
“I think everybody was happy about that [avoiding arbitration]. That’s not something anybody wanted.”
While avoiding the awkward situation of arbitration is the obvious reason that this is a “best-case scenario”, future personnel implications could give Lamoriello some leverage in locking up Parise to the coveted long-term contract.
The last thing that the Devils want to face is the suffocating grip of the cap ceiling that had them subbing players in and out of the long-term injury reserve last season. Even with Parise’s new $6 million cap hit in tow, New Jersey has a little over $2.5 million in space. Not the most desirable cap situation to be in, but it offers some flexibility for the short-term.
The conclusion of the 2011-12 season will bring with it some cap relief for the Devils which, and we’re spit-balling here, could have played a major role in the two sides agreeing to a one-year deal for now.
Parise’s new deal excluded, the Devils are looking at the possibility of somewhere in excess of $13 million coming off the books at season’s end. Both Colin White ($3 million) and Bryce Salvador ($2.9 million) are entering the final year of their respective contracts, and it’s unlikely either would return to New Jersey at the cost they’re currently demanding. The wild card is obviously Martin Brodeur who, at a $5.2 million cap hit, will keep pundits speculating on his future all season long. If Brodeur goes the route of retirement, or in the seemingly unlikely event of a trade occurs, then that nixes a significant portion of payroll that could be allocated towards a long-term deal for Parise.
As Gulitti noted in his piece on the Parise deal, Lamoriello may still have a move or two up his sleeve that could potentially clear a little more space under the salary cap:
With their final arbitration case settled, the Devils now have a second 48-hour buyout period that begins Monday. Whether the Devils will utilize it remains to be seen, but Lamoriello did hint that he might not be done shaping his roster when he said, “We’ll continue to do whatever we can. We will be without question under the cap and we still have things that we’ll be doing.”
While on the surface a one-year contract that essentially offers the pot of gold that is unrestricted free agency at its end may not be the most desirable situation for the Devils, we’d be naive to think that Lamoriello did so without the future in mind.
Get ready for the impending ‘Parise to insert team name here in 2012′, but the situation most deserving of your attention will be the Devils and the Parise working towards long-term deal in advance of July 1, 2012.