Last season, the New Jersey Devils shocked the hockey world when they opened the season with a 10-28-3 record. This was an organization that had won two Stanley Cups in the last 10 years and qualified for postseason contention each of the last 13 seasons. With the almighty Martin Brodeur in goal, the team seemed like a lock for at least one more playoff berth. But Brodeur struggled early on and the lack of team depth was gloriously magnified. While the team had just locked up superstar Ilya Kovalchuk to a contract Rick DiPietro can smile at, the Devils were really missing another key forward – Zach Parise.
Parise has established himself as one of the elite players in the NHL, like many of his 2003 draft counterparts. Aside from his injury-shortened season last year, Parise had averaged 41.5 goals over the previous two seasons and 88 points in the same stretch. He is one of Team USA's top stars and wears the alternate (not assistant) "A" on not only his Devils' but also on his Team USA sweater. His list of awards and achievements go on and on. Yeah, he's good.
The million-dollar question right now in New Jersey though is will they sign Zach Parise? The restricted free agent made $3.125 million last year and is certainly due for a raise. With a massive contract for Ilya Kovalchuk in the books, the Devils might not be able to afford Parise's price tag. Brian Rolston and Patrik Elias eat up $11 million between the two of them and both carry no-trade-clauses. Rolston's contract meets the 35+ criteria, making his salary set in stone unless they can convince him to waive the NTC and find a trade partner.
Assuming the Devils do figure out a way to clear space and give Parise what he deserves, is Parise even a good fit in New Jersey? Let's look at their depth.
In goal, the Devils are still relying on the 39 year-old Martin Brodeur, who has one year remaining on his contract. He'll likely have a decent season, but this year should be his last. He and backup Hedberg both carry NTC's, so these are the goalies in NJ all year. Depth behind Brodeur is not nearly as good as it could be.
On defense, there are a few up-and-comers like Taormina and Urbomb, but this team is committing over $16.5 million to Volchenkov (NTC), Tallinder, White (NTC), Greene, and Salvador. The Devils could use a few upgrades here as well, but will be looking much better once Adam Larsson joins the squad.
On offense, Elias has two years remaining on his deal. He led the team last year with 62 points and he should be able to find some more spring in his step before his deal is up at ag