The Eastern Conference Finals only provided further evidence that Zach Parise is a terrific player and would be an ideal fit for the New York Rangers.
There’s little doubt that GM Glen Sather is going to make Parise a massive multi-year offer when he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1st, but despite New York’s desire to convert the Devils’ captain into a true blue soldier, there’s a very small chance of that actually happening (despite my repeated attempts to convince myself otherwise).
The primary reason – Parise isn’t like past Devils’ versions of Benedict Arnold; he cares deeply about the organization that drafted him nine years ago and takes great pride in leading the Rangers’ bitter rivals. All the proof you need was etched onto Parise’s face as he was interviewed by the MSG Network immediately following New Jersey’s ousting of the Blueshirts on May 25th when Parise expressed immense satisfaction about erasing the memory of 1994 (1:25 mark).
Parise wasn’t just happy to be going to the Stanley Cup Finals, he was also obviously pleased to have helped his team achieve victory over its sworn enemy.
New York does have a couple of things going for it. The Rangers are unafraid to spend money and will dangle a huge deal in front of Parise’s nose that could make even Jersey’s most loyal warrior take pause. Parise’s respect for Coach John Tortorella is now public knowledge and he’s certainly gotten a firsthand look at what the Rangers are building – a perennial championship contender that may not exist in New Jersey once Martin Brodeur (finally) retires.
The problem is that there are many teams that can match, or even exceed New York’s greatest financial package, so the pure advantage of cash doesn’t exist for the Rangers as it did in the past.
Among the other teams vying for Parise’s services are the hometown Minnesota Wild, which has an elite crop of young talent on the way, and the Detroit Red Wings, who are preparing to reload on the fly following the departure of Nicklas Lidstrom, but still boast enough superstars to ensure that they’ll be a Western Conference contender for years.
Don’t count the Devils out either. New Jersey may have trouble competing financially with Parise’s other suitors, but he has a genuine loyalty to the franchise that has only been strengthened during the Devils’ playoff run.
Parise would undoubtedly be an excellent addition for New York, but his very real hatred for the Blueshirts combined with several other attractive options make the Rangers a huge long shot to land his services next month.