In the hours leading up to Monday's NHL trade deadline, reports emerged indicating the Minnesota Wild were working on a potential deal to send Zach Parise to the New York Islanders. Nothing came of the negotiations, but the news brought a jolt of excitement to a busy trade market.
Following the deadline, The Athletic's Michael Russo reported Wild GM Bill Guerin confirmed the trade discussions, but declined to reveal details. Nevertheless, Russo said the potential trade would've also sent Isles winger Andrew Ladd to Minnesota.
Parise and Ladd were said to have waived their no-trade clauses to facilitate the complicated deal. It's unclear why it failed to go through, but Russo speculated the players' contracts might have been the sticking point. Parise carries an annual average value of more than $7.5 million for five more seasons, while Ladd is signed through 2022-23 with an AAV of $5.5 million. Russo cited sources claiming the two clubs had previously discussed this deal last summer when Paul Fenton was still the Wild GM. Fenton reportedly didn't want Ladd as part of the return.
This might not be the last time the Wild attempt to move Parise to the Islanders. The Pioneer Press' Dane Mizutani reports Guerin admitted the two sides could revisit those discussions in the off-season.
Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello drafted Parise in 2003 during his tenure as GM of the New Jersey Devils. The left winger had his best seasons with the Devils, helping them reach the 2012 Stanley Cup Final. Parise passed on re-signing that summer with New Jersey, inking a 13-year contract to play in his native Minnesota.
Lamoriello seems to holds no grudges against Parise. Despite his age, the 35-year-old winger remains an effective NHL forward, with 21 goals in 62 games this season. Ladd, meanwhile, is skating with the Islanders' AHL affiliate in Bridgeport.
Had this trade gone through, Parise's cap hit would've pushed the Isles’ payroll to over $72 million invested in 16 players for 2020-21. Assuming the cap rises to $84 million, that wouldn’t leave much to re-sign restricted free agents Mathew Barzal, Ryan Pulock and Devon Toews, let alone UFAs such as goaltender Thomas Greiss, defenseman Andy Greene, and forwards Derick Brassard, Matt Martin and Tom Kuhnhackl.
If Lamoriello was trying to get Guerin to pick up part of Parise's cap hit, it would explain why they couldn't get a deal done before the deadline. They'll have more time to hammer out an agreement this summer if they choose to do so.
UPDATE ON DUSTIN BYFUGLIEN
After making big splashes at the previous two trade deadlines, the Winnipeg Jets had a quiet one this year. They made two recent minor acquisitions, bringing in defenseman Dylan DeMelo from the Ottawa Senators and center Cody Eakin from the Vegas Golden Knights.
Following the deadline, Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said sidelined defenseman Dustin Byfuglien had no intention of playing this season, cratering his trade value. As Byfuglien remains suspended for the season, the Jets have the choice of rolling his contract forward, meaning he'd still have two seasons remaining at an annual salary-cap hit of $7.6 million.
The two sides were reportedly working toward a mutual contract termination before the deadline. Cheveldayoff said that was still “a work in progress,” but also suggested he could still try to trade Byfuglien down the road.
Peddling ‘Big Buff’ this summer could be easier said than done. Interested parties will want assurances he's recovered from the ankle surgery that kept him off skates this season. They could also insist on the Jets picking up part of his cap hit. It might be best for all concerned if the two sides agree to a contract termination by the summer. The Jets can use the extra cap space to bolster their depleted defense corps, leaving Byfuglien the option of continuing his playing career elsewhere or retiring.
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