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The Importance Of Discussing Parise’s New Contract

It’s been easy to forget Zach Parise and his upcoming restricted free agency. The New Jersey Devils’ left winger is currently out recovering from a torn meniscus. His absence is overshadowed by the Devils’ lackluster play.

Overlooking this situation for fans is understandable. But for management to not approach Parise about a new contract is absurd. One of the best young left-wingers in the league, Parise will be in high demand this offseason. The Devils need to open lines of communication now to keep Parise under team control.

Parise should (and will) command top dollar from the Devils this offseason. The young left-winger, making only $3.125 million this season, will ask for an annual salary close to that of Kovalchuk. His production warrants the demand. In 419 games, Parise recorded 341 points (163 goals, 178 assists). He’s compiled four seasons of 30+ goals and 60+ points. Parise doesn’t only perform on the ice. He’s become a fan favorite and leader in the locker room. His chemistry with Travis Zajac gives the Devils a solid basis for the top offensive line.

Despite all these positives, general manager Lou Lamoriello has yet to begin contract negotiations. Parise will be in high demand. He’s better than Dustin Penner, who received a five-year, $21.25 million restricted free-agent contract from the Edmonton Oilers during the 2006-07 offseason. David Backes, who hasn’t produced Parise’s numbers, received a five-year, $22.5 million this season. Jeff Carter, whose numbers compare to Parise, signed an 11-year, $58 million contract with the Philadelphia Flyers.

There’s a good possibility Parise will demand a contract between those of Backes and Carter as a discussion point. Right now, the Devils face no pressure from other teams to negotiate with Parise. If Lamoriello waits until the offseason, several teams will work to either sign Parise or dramatically increase his price tag. With an unsure cap situation for next season, it’s not a situation the Devils want to find themselves stuck in.

There are several more months left to the season, and plenty of time to discuss a new contract. New Jersey can’t take this time for granted. Entering negotiations now can help lead to a quicker extension. With no pressure from other clubs, the Devils’ need to begin discussing Parise’s contract. Procrastination could carry serious consequences.

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