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Parise wants to avoid arbitration, would consider one-year deal

Jul 8, 2011, 7:53 PM EDT

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Another day has passed and yet another day without any news on the Zach Parise contract front. The Parise camp continues to work towards a long-term deal that would provide security while the New Jersey Devils continue to work on a deal that would make season for their team and salary cap structure. Without the threat of offer-sheets from opposing teams, both sides know they have until their arbitration hearing to work out a deal that is palatable for both sides. Today, it was announced that they’ll have until August 3rd. If they can’t work out a deal by then, both sides will present their cases to an independent arbitrator who will then decide on a contract amount based on the arguments heard.

In the arbitration hearings, basically the player’s agent will talk about how great their client is on the ice and in the locker room. The organization will counter with each and every fault the player has in painstaking detail. Zach Parise must have received the memo from his brethren in the players association: salary arbitration is not a pleasant experience. He knows that a salary arbitration hearing could get ugly:

“”That’s what I’ve heard. I’ve never been through that. Maybe that’s some of the reason why no one wants to go (to arbitration). You don’t want it to get ugly. I don’t think the organization wants it like that and we don’t want it like that.

“Hopefully we won’t have to go through that. I don’t think any organization wants to cut down their own player.”

Parise’s case could be an interesting if it ever makes it before an arbitrator. From the team’s perspective, the hearing couldn’t come at a better time. Parise is coming off a serious knee injury that caused him to miss 69 games last season. Obviously, his 13 games played, 3 goals, and 3 assists are all career lows for the former 1st round pick.  Those don’t exactly sound like a player who should have earned $5 million last season.

On the other hand, Parise has showed himself to be one of the most productive players from one of the best drafts ever. At only 26 years old, he already has 163 goals and 341 points in his career. He’s proven to be better than a point-per-game player when playing for his country in the World Championships and 2010 Olympics. Over the course of his last two season (when he was healthy), he piled up 83 goals and 176 points. These are exactly the type of stats an arbitrator will look at when determining Parise’s value. Those aren’t the stats of a good player—those are the stats of an elite NHL scorer.

It’s doubtful that the Devils would want an outsider to tell them how much a guy like that is worth on the open market.

With the August 3rd hearing date set today, both sides know they have almost four weeks to come to an agreement. If the Devils and Parise can’t come to a long-term agreement that gives both the team and player security, a one-year deal may be a necessary step in the process. Remember, if Parise accepts a one-year deal, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent at the end of next season. Then there will be no arbitrator to determine Parise’s salary—only the open market.

Can you imagine? And we thought the Brad Richards sweepstakes was crazy.

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