Earlier today Eric T. of the newly formed, already great website NHL Numbers wrote a solid post on Zach Parise that used advanced stats to demonstrate why teams may want to exercise a little caution before throwing their checkbooks at the unrestricted free agent this summer.

His point is correct: a scorer’s offensive prime is much younger than most people think (usually over by around 26), Parise is 28, and if you look at his numbers the past few seasons, the trend could be considered a concern.

But my rebuttal to that idea is pretty simple: sometimes the human angle matters, and Zach Parise is going to be an offensive force for quite awhile because his passion and work ethic will make it so. I know of very few NHLers that care like Parise does.

My favourite hockey analysts are the ones that can use numbers to help them make their points, but also remember that that the game isn’t played on a computer or by robots, and not all careers take the same arc. Eric noted this in his piece by mentioning guys like Jarome Iginla and Patrick Marleau (who still snipe 30+ a year), and contrasting them with guys who’ve fallen off in their later years like Dany Heatley and Vincent Lecavalier (who have fallen off sharply).

We can’t always be sure which guys are going to last and which aren’t, but I think most people who saw Danny Heatley with his shirt off when he was one of the League’s best snipers could have assured you he wasn’t going to be one of the guys scoring a ton towards the end of his career. The zealous commitment to fitness necessary to be successful for a long time was never there (think of guys such as Rod Brind’Amour, Mark Recchi, and Gary Roberts to know the type who stay effective).

Zach Parise is very much poured from the Jarome Iginla mold - they’re both straight-edged, passionate hockey players who care little about anything other the sport of hockey (aside from family).These are the guys that get personal trainers, scrutinize their nutritional intake, and watch hockey in their spare time. (Oh, and they both kick ass in playoffs – Parise’s forechecking this post-season has been phenomenal.)

Parise’s Dad is J.P Parise, who was an Islander with my father, and I played against Zach in college. We have common friends. I do some work with Easton (hence the top photo), and I had the chance to spend some time with him, as he’s an Easton guy. I assure you: this is a guy who cares. He’s not the guy who’s gonna go out and get buckled on a game night and play hungover the next day. Hockey means the world to him.

Here’s his numbers over the past four seasons, via the chart in Eric T.’s post:

Year Goals Points 5v5 pts/60 SOG/60 Corsi Rel
’08-09 45 94 2.93 14.2 16.3
’09-10 38 82 2.59 13.0 12.4
’10-11 injured
’11-12 31 69 2.18 10.0 4.2

Every number is headed in the wrong direction.

Or on the other hand, last season Zach Parise was a player with a ton of leadership qualities, a positive Corsi (ability to drive the play), over 30 goals and nearly 70 points. I don’t see him being a guy who finishes with less than 50 before he hits his mid 30′s, and I could see him sustaining or bettering his last season for many years.

I respect the idea that he may not be a guy who’s going to finish among the scoring leaders any more (though it’s not unthinkable), but knowing how the guy operates as a person has me believing he’s going to be a great NHL player for a long time to come. A cap hit of $6-7 million for a guy like this that takes him into his mid-to-late 30′s wouldn’t make me flinch as a GM.

Comments (11)

  1. “…but I think most people who saw Danny Heatley with his shirt off when he was one of the League’s best snipers… ”

    Where were these physical examinations taking place? I want to make sure I never go there.

    When it comes to Parise, how much weight do you give to a guy’s first season back after a complete year off?

  2. It’s amusing to me that we wrote a pro and con article in which we agree with an awful lot of what the other person has to say.

    Parise’s a great player. He’ll make a team better right away, and I’m not saying teams would be crazy to sign him, just that they need to know going in that it’s a move designed for the short term — he’ll probably underperform the contract down the road and maybe by a lot.

    People tend to look at UFAs and think about what cap hit they are worth now, which can get you into trouble when signing a 28-year-old to a forever deal. If your team lands Parise, be excited about what next year will look like, but know that there’s a good chance that his contract will be a problem in a few years.

    • That was a pleasant change of pace for pro/con articles. It’s going to be interesting to see what becomes of some of these long-term contract guys towards the end. I’m sure there’ll be some awfully bad hockey players (comparably) making an awful lot of money.

      • Great pair of articles. Both are well written, respectful, and accurate in their differences (rare in rivaling pieces.)

        Might I suggest a internet series in which the two of you debate players using your different perspectives? It could even be over tea! (ya, know…to keep with the civility motif)

        Eric, Love your BSH stuff.

  3. Dear Lou-

    Please, for the love of all things against the spirit of the CBA, double down on the front end loaded contracts.


    New Jersey

  4. Just as long as the Rangers don’t sign him. Guys coming straight from the Devils never work out.

    Bobby Holik is the prime example, but he’s certainly not the only one.

  5. So, you’re saying we’re not going to be seeing pictures of Zach on Deadspin after the playoffs are over?

  6. Could part of Parise’s fall-off in numbers also be that he’s on a better team than in the past so he doesn’t have to do as much?

  7. Another thing to remember is that Parise is not an island. He’s probably going to sign with a team who is contending or is a piece or two away from contending for a Cup final. I’ve heard rumours on a certain podcast that Parise and Ryan Suter are guys that Carolina and Detroit are looking at. The general conclusion drawn by the host of that podcast, a beautiful man I might add, is that Carolina will get one and Detroit will get the other.

    If I am Parise, and I decide not to stay in New Jersey, Detroit would be an interesting choice. He doesn’t have to be a veteran leader; he’s going to be the third concern of other teams’ defence behind Zetterberg and Datsyuk. If Bourne is correct about Parise being effective later into his career like an Iginla or Marleau then I signing him to a 7-10 year deal is a smart move especially if a team can realize a salary drop-off in the last 3 to 5 years. If Parise is worth 7 million a season in actual dollars right now, then why not make the last three years of the contract worth $3m, $3m, and $2.5m on a 10-year deal?
    That would put his salary between $57.5m and $61m over ten years. Quick math says that’s a pretty good cap hit for Parise. Who knows, maybe someone throws more money at him.

    So what would his incentive be to stay in Jersey? Other than having Wyshynski drooling about you on his yahoo-based blog, what’s in it for Parise to stay?
    1. Kovalchuk
    2. Pretty good young players and a great organization

    Why leave?
    1. Who is the starting goaltender there in 2 years? Heck, who is it next year?
    2. If you don’t win the Cup or get to the Finals this year, what chances do you have in the coming years?

    That second point is going to be key. Let’s call a spade a spade: Jersey had some interesting breaks to get to where they are now. If Jersey had been the 7th seed, they would have played Boston and if they were the 5th seed, they would have played Pittsburgh. In that respect, the 5th seed was more attractive. Yet they were able to draw the Panthers who put up a great fight but were one of the two East playoff teams with a negative goal differential. Then they drew Philly who was emotionally drained from their series with Pittsburgh. I’m sure that the majority of Philly players were already looking ahead and saying: “Washington or the Rangers, who would we rather play?”, but forgot to consider the Devils.
    Now they are playing a team who has fought two 7-game series’; has a coach that is treating two of his defencemen as government mules; and an opponent that doesn’t require a lot of travel. The Devils continue to bounce back against the Rangers and will probably push this to 7 games.

    When are these circumstances going to happen again? When they find a replacement for Brodeur, will the Devils really have another shot to make the finals?

    Not questions I want to be asking going into a long-term deal. Why not make the safe bet:
    Oh look, the Detroit Red Wings – perennial favourites; solid goaltending; in need of a piece or two.
    Or how about the Boston Bruins who will be moving to their goaltender of the future in Rask; have a little bit of caps space; have a team that is built to win.

    I think there are other options out there such as Florida that could be interesting as well once they get Luongo back for pennies on the dollar.

    • When Broduer went down a couple of years ago and the Devils had one of their best seasons ever, i think the organization showed that they can deal with mediocre goalies. I think Parise does stay in NJ. He’s entrenched, beloved by fans, and seems to enjoy being captain.

  8. Zach’s a Shattuck guy! That’s all you need to know. Sign him in a second.

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