New Jersey Devils fans may hold out hope captain Zach Parise re-signs, but league-wide speculation is he'll become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
The New York Post's Larry Brooks doubts the Devils can afford Parise, unless team owner Jeff Vanderbeek finds a benefactor willing to pony up the millions needed to re-sign him.
Brooks believes Parise will command a heavily front-loaded deal akin to the nine-year, $60-million contract Brad Richards signed last summer with the New York Rangers. Brooks listed the Detroit Red Wings, Minnesota Wild, San Jose Sharks, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins and (of course) the Rangers among the potential suitors for the left winger's services.
If Parise does hit the open market, the Red Wings and Rangers stand the best chance to land him because, as Brooks indicates, they have both the cap space and the willingness to spend.
Of those two, the Red Wings should have the edge. They have $5 million more in extra cap space compared to the Rangers, Parise has stated his admiration for the Wings and their first line center, Pavel Datsyuk, and they're located closer to his home state of Minnesota.
DON’T FORGET NASH AND RADULOV
Parise won't be the only big-name scorer on the Blueshirts radar in the coming weeks.
ESPN.com's Craig Custance listed Parise, with Columbus Blue Jackets right winger Rick Nash and Nashville Predators right winger Alexander Radulov, among the high-end scorers who will be of interest to Rangers GM Glen Sather.
Nash is currently under contract until 2018, with an average annual cap hit of $7.8 million. The Blue Jackets are expected to shop him as aggressively as they did prior to the trade deadline. The Jackets and Rangers were edging toward a deal at that time, but it ultimately fell through over Columbus’ asking price.
Radulov, on the other hand, is a restricted free agent the Predators have no intention of re-signing. GM David Poile said he’d try to trade his NHL rights or simply allow him to return to Russia's Kontinental League, where the winger spent the past four seasons.
NEW GOALIE FOR BLUE JACKETS
Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reported GM Scott Howson intends to find a new starting goalie.
Portzline speculated on their options, saying Vancouver's Roberto Luongo should not be ruled out, though his hefty contract and age (33) wouldn't make him Columbus’ first choice.
Nashville's Anders Lindback and Philadelphia's Sergei Bobrovsky were also listed as possible trade candidates. Portzline ruled out Boston's Tuukka Rask and noted Blue Jackets management has always had a lukewarm opinion of Los Angeles backup Jonathan Bernier.
Free agent options include Florida's Scott Clemmensen, Minnesota's Josh Harding, Toronto's Jonas Gustavsson and the Rangers' Martin Biron.
Of all the problem areas plaguing the Blue Jackets, goaltending has been the biggest over the past three seasons. Current starter Steve Mason, who has one year remaining on his contract, has struggled to regain the stellar form that backstopped the Blue Jackets to their only playoff berth in franchise history in 2009.
Columbus clearly needs an upgrade, either in a return on a Nash trade, a separate trade or free agency.
Rumor Roundup appears Monday-Friday only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News, Kukla's Korner and The Guardian, Charlottetown.