Will Parise Cross the River?

A star winger for the Devils, Parise will be the most coveted prize of the NHL’s off-season as he becomes an unrestricted free agent. His presence in the Eastern Conference Finals hints at a promising scenario for the Rangers that could play out in early July. Here’s Parise, 27 years old and in the prime of his career, delivering two goals and an assist in the Devils’ 4-1 series-tying victory in Monday’s Game 4, and it’s impossible to watch him and not wonder what he might bring to the Rangers if they were to win the bidding battle for him.

Through a spokesman, the Rangers and GM Glen Sather declined to comment on their possible pursuit of Parise. Earlier this season, Devils president and general manager Lou Lamoriello said he would not discuss any conversations he might have with Parise’s agent, Wade Arnott, saying only, “Zach Parise is our captain. He’s our leader. We want him to be here.” Arnott recently confirmed that there have been no formal talks with the Devils regarding Parise’s future, and for his part, Parise said last week that he is focused solely on helping his team beat the Rangers in this series

Despite what’s presumed to be an uncertain climate for signing free agents—the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement expires on Sept. 15—one development is all but assured, according to several league analysts and former executives: The Rangers will make a play for Parise.

Based on this season’s per-team salary-cap number of $64.3 million, the Rangers would have more than $16 million worth of room under the cap next season, and it’s something of an annual tradition for Sather to chase, and often catch, the biggest name on the market: Chris Drury and Scott Gomez in 2007, Marian Gaborik in 2009, Brad Richards—to the tune of nine years and $60 million—last year.