As the hockey world waits for Zach Parise’s decision, NHL teams have been keeping busy signing other players in the free agency crop, including the team Parise has been with since 2003 and captained this past season, the New Jersey Devils. The Devils had their work cut out for them this off season as they had 16 players on their roster facing free agency status, 11 of them being on the playoff squad. Some of the 11 playoff regulars included Steve Bernier, Stephen Gionta, and Ryan Carter, all of whom were apart of the vaunted 4th line that was ever so special during the Devils long playoff run, defenseman Mark Fayne who was rock-solid during the post-season, trade deadline pickup Alexei Ponikarovsky, veterans Petr Sykora and Bryce Salvador, both goalies in Johan Hedberg and Martin Brodeur, and the prize of 2012 free agency, Zach Parise. For a quick run-down of all the notable transactions involving Devils players that have already occured, see the bullet-list below:
- Steve Bernier, resigns with NJ, 2 years, $1.5 million
- Ryan Carter, resigns with NJ, 2 years, $1.55 million
- Stephen Gionta, resigns with NJ, 2 years, $1.125 million
- Alexei Ponikarovsky, signs with Winnipeg, 1 year, $1.8 million
- Peter Harrold, resigns with NJ, 1 year, $525,000
- Bryce Salvador, resigns with NJ, 3 years, $9.5 million
- Johan Hedberg, resigns with NJ, 2 years, $2.8 million
- Martin Brodeur, resigns with NJ, 2 years, $9 million
- Cam Janssen, resigns with NJ, 1 year, $575,000
- Eric Boulton, signs with NY Islanders, 1 year, $550,000
- Mark Fayne, received qualifying offer of $610,000
From these signings, New Jersey has brought back most of its 2011-2012 roster, which is great news for Devils fans. The resigning of 4th liners Bernier, Gionta, and Carter didn’t come as much of a surprise, but to Devils fans, this is fantastic news as they were the most productive line for the team during their Cup run. The oldest goalie tandem in the league also returns, but it wasn’t easy. Brodeur tested free agency briefly, which definitely caused Devils fans hearts to skip a beat, or two. Both goalies wanted at least 2-year deals for some peace of mind, and that’s what they got. Brodeur, who has been in New Jersey his entire career, agreed to the 2-year deal and will most likely retire a Devil. Bryce Salvador, who also was extremely productive during the post-season, patiently waited as New Jersey had other players to attend to. He realized he was third in line behind Parise and Brodeur, but today, he got his wish to stay with New Jersey as he signed a 3-year deal. With this signing, New Jersey returns its entire “no-name” defensive corps from this past season.
As for those unsigned, Petr Sykora, a fan favorite and long-time Devil who returned this year through a successful tryout, remains unsigned but has expressed his desire to remain a Devil. Ponikarovsky, who was a pleasant surprise this year as he landed in New Jersey after jumping around the league for most of his career, continued that trend this offseason and landed in Winnipeg. Mark Fayne, who received a qualifying offer of $610,000, was recently sidelined due to wrist surgery. He is expected to miss at least 3-4 months, but with the rest of the defensive corps intact, the Devils won’t miss a beat and will welcome his return whenever that may be.
Zach Parise, the captain and heartbeat of New Jersey, continues to take time to decide where he will likely spend the rest of his career, or a good portion of it at least. Some teams besides the Devils in the mix for Parise, as reported, are Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Philadelphia, and Chicago. All four of these teams have apparently offered long-term deals topping $100 million. Parise has stated that his decision is not all about money, but about winning championships and making him, his fiancé, and his family happy. He has also expressed his love for New Jersey and playing for this team, so even through the big offers he will surely receive, the Devils are to not be counted out of the race. Parise, who flew home to Minnesota this morning to begin talks with his family, also stated he has no timetable for a decision and has not revealed who is on his short-list. With Brodeur resigning, Marty was quick to point out that he did in fact talk to Parise, as did Salvador, about returning to the Devils. They, as well as the rest of the team, hope for their captain to stay and to get another shot at the Cup with basically the same team as this past year. Wherever the captain ends up, he would be an immediate impact as both a point-getter and team leader. The world waits for you Zach, and New Jersey prays.
About the Author
Written by Mike Mastrandrea
Mike Mastrandrea is currently a Junior at Indiana University studying Sports Communication and Marketing. He was raised in New Jersey and is a dedicated New Jersey Devils, New York Jets, New York Mets, and Indiana Hoosiers fan. Mike's other interests include movies, hanging out with friends, and Chel.