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Free agent Zach Parise inches closer to a new deal

New Jersey Devils' Zach Parise speaks to reporters during Media Day before Game 1 of their NHL Stanley Cup hockey final against the Los Angeles Kings in Newark, New Jersey May 29, 2012. The Stanley Cup Final will be played on May 30 in Newark.

Mike Segar/REUTERS

The hockey world may be losing patience with Zach Parise but he says he will not be rushed into a decision about his next employer.

"I still don't know," Parise said late Monday afternoon after leaving the offices of Wade Arnott of Newport Sports Management Inc., his representative in the talks with several NHL teams, in Mississauga, Ont. "The list is still there. We're getting closer, that's all I can say.

"The goal is to make the most informed decision I can. I'm not putting a deadline on anything. It's such a long-term, important decision you have to make sure you look at everything."

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Thus the second day of the NHL's annual free-agent auction ended still without a decision from either of the top two targets – Parise at forward and defenceman Ryan Suter. While there was a chance Parise would make his decision late Monday night or early Tuesday, he indicated it could take a little longer.

The biggest news of the day, as the social media exploded with impatience over the desire of Parise and Suter to take their time over signing contracts that will cover the bulk of their NHL careers, proved to be a signing and a trade. The Montreal Canadiens signed goaltender Carey Price to a six-year contract extension that works out to an average of $6.5-million (all currency U.S.) per year.

On the trade front, the Buffalo Sabres grew nastier by getting centre Steve Ott along with defenceman Adam Pardy for centre Derek Roy. Ott is one of the NHL's more disliked players thanks to his penchant for giving no quarter on the ice. In Dallas, Roy will serve as the replacement at centre for Mike Ribeiro, who was traded to the Washington Capitals a week ago.

The impatience over Parise stems from the dominoes poised to fall once he makes his decision. At least some of the teams who fail to get him will turn to the Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson, who is waiting to cash in on a trade for disenchanted winger Rick Nash.

Parise, 27, said he plans to return to his Minnesota home Tuesday morning and talk to his family and fiancée about the situation before making a decision.

At this point, the Pittsburgh Penguins, Minnesota Wild and the Chicago Blackhawks appear to have the inside track, with the Philadelphia Flyers and perhaps the Los Angeles Kings also in the hunt. The contract offers are all in the 10- to 12-year range for a total of $100-million, give or take $10-million.

This may seem extreme, given that Parise's highest points total in seven seasons with the New Jersey Devils is 94 points in 82 games in 2008-09. But he was the Devils' best forward over the course of the 2012 playoffs and is easily the best forward in a decidedly thin free-agent market.

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It was assumed the Devils' precarious financial situation (co-owner Jeff Vanderbeek is desperately trying to find investors to help him avoid bankruptcy) precludes Parise signing with his old team. But he said it was heartening to see goaltender Martin Brodeur sign with the team again after trying the free-agent market and he said Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello assured him finances will not stand in the way of any efforts to keep him.

"Just in speaking with Lou, he said that won't be a problem, so that's not weighing into it right now," Parise said.

At this point, the choice seems to be staying with the only team he has ever played for, going to the Penguins for the chance to play the wing beside Sidney Crosby or sign with the Wild in his home state.

Once Parise decides, it is expected the Nash trade will fall into place quickly. At this point, the New York Rangers are the most serious pursuers but they could be joined by the Kings, who are playing down their interest in both Parise and Nash, as well as the Flyers.

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About the Author
Hockey columnist

A native of Wainfleet, Ont., David Shoalts joined The Globe in 1984 after working at the Calgary Herald, Calgary Sun and Toronto Sun. He graduated in 1978 from Conestoga College and also attended the University of Waterloo. More


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