Parise Snubs Rangers, Hopeful to Return to New Jersey
A year ago, all signs pointed to a departure for Zach Parise.
The future Devils captain signed a one-year extension on his contract, turning him from a restricted free agent in 2011 to an unrestricted free agent in 2012.
To make matters worse, as the 2011-2012 campaign wore on, the top-bidders in the Parise sweepstakes appeared to be none other than the Devils biggest rivals -- their cross-river foe, New York Rangers.
After an improbable playoff run that witnessed New Jersey eliminate the Philadelphia Flyers and Rangers, however, Parise said that he's hopeful to remain a Devil for years to come.
Additionally, when asked about playing for the Rangers, the captain said "No way," putting hope back in the idea that he does actually want to play for New Jersey, the team that groomed him into one of the best forwards in the league.
When speaking to the media on breakup day Tuesday, Parise spoke on numerous things, including his want to remain in New Jersey and the fun he and his teammates had on their run to the Stanley Cup Final.
"This is a great place. I love being here, and I love playing here," Parise said in a report from the Bergen Record.
Many are speculating that Parise will sign with the team who has the best chance at winning the cup, and right now, the Devils have to be among the top teams in that category after winning the Prince of Whales trophy by ousting the Eastern Conference's top-seeded New York Rangers.
Parise is just one of many unrestricted free agents for the Devils this off-season, although general manager Lou Lamoriello has made it apparent that Parise is indeed New Jersey's top priority.
The Devils captain posted 31 goals and 38 assists in the regular season, leading New Jersey back to the playoffs after missing it in 2011. The Devils beat the Florida Panthers in the opening round in seven games, before toppling the Flyers in five games and the Rangers in six.
The Detorit Red Wings are expected to make a strong push for Parise, along with the Minnesota Wild, the hometown of the 27-year-old.
For now, Lamoriello and New Jersey hope they can lock up Parise before free agency begins on July 1, although Parise said it's possible that he could still sign with the Devils after July 1.