Are The Isles Planning To Part With Parenteau?
Free Agency is a mere 11 days away and the Islanders have yet to come to terms with arguably their most important unrestricted free agent.
P.A. Parenteau went from cheap free agent pick up to first line winger in only two seasons, finding a nice niche alongside of John Tavares and opposite of Matt Moulson. The trio headlined the Islanders as the top scorers with Parenteau recording 18 goals, 49 assists and 67 points. He also was 12th in the league for assists.
This was a guy that could barely scratch the New York Rangers line-up despite averaging more than a point per game in the AHL four consecutive seasons in a row. At 29 years old, Parenteau is definitely going to want to cash in on a long-term deal that will reward him for his services. (Photo Credit: Dinur/Flickr)
And can you blame the guy? He's spent a long time trying to make it in the big league and finally has proven that he is more than capable of playing in the NHL.
But are the Islanders preparing to part ways with one of their most important core members?
The argument will be tossed around this summer if Parenteau is really as good as his numbers indicate. After all, he played most of the year with John Tavares and had a consistent 30-goal scorer in Moulson finishing his passes on the other side of his line. 29 years old isn't exactly the youngest age in the NHL these days either. If he were 24 or 25, there would be an even bigger case to say that the Isles need to lock him up. But how many 60+ point seasons does Parenteau actually have left in him?
Was this a fluke year where everything went right because his career was potentially on the line? Can he reach 70 points? Even better yet, can he do it without John Tavares?
I am willing to bet that he can have a repeat season, or close to it. The only problem is that the Islanders might not be comfortable giving him more money than some of the other hard working players on this team, especially at his age. In my opinion, something around a three year deal would be reasonable. But would Parenteau want more? It's hard to say. But if I were him, I would want the longest contract I could get.
His numbers show that he is easily worth between the three to four million dollar range. Anything more for a guy who only put up 67 points once would be a little unrealistic. But again, it's hard to gauge what Parenteau is aiming for being that this could be his one opportunity to cash in big in the NHL.
He's stated that he wants to remain an Islander. But if this was definitely the case, why didn't he sign when GM Garth Snow approached him about contract talks towards the end of the season? Granted, he probably wanted to focus on his play in the hopes of reaching a new career high on a game by game basis. But what for? To prove to the Islanders that he's worth the money and the contract? Or to prove it to the rest of the league?
I am not saying that Parenteau is a liar. I believe he does feel loyal to the team that gave him his chance. He also was one of the most passionate players in that locker room. After a win, he was always quick to speak highly of his teammates and joke around with reporters. After a loss, he would stare blankly at the floor in disgust. Although he would always answer your questions honestly and respectfully, you could tell he didn't want to be bothered. A loss meant something to him. As someone who frequently was in the locker room, I can confidently say that Parenteau was someone who really emerged as a character guy on this team.
But hockey is just as much a business as anything else, and Parenteau was likely preparing himself for the possibility of the Islanders walking away from him.
The only player that the Islanders have signed recently is former prospect Jesse Joensuu, who spent last season in the Swedish Elite League. In 50 games with HV71 Jonkoping, Joensuu scored 13 goals and 16 assists. In his brief stints with the Isles in the past, Joensuu looked like a player with plenty of potential to go with his size, but he only managed to be a third liner at best. His arrival adds to the growing list of applicants with Casey Cizikas, David Ullstrom and potentially Ryan Strome competing for roster spots. Hence why there is a Euro-out clause. This means that Joensuu will start with the Islanders and will likely opt for Europe if the organization feels he is not good enough to stick it for 82 games. (HV71foto/Flickr)
Now I am not saying Joensuu is who the Islanders are going to use to replace Parenteau on the top line if he signs with another team. But adding Joensuu, who was fantastic in the IIHF World Championships, adds depth to the starting roster as well as competition in training camp.
Don't forget that Kyle Okposo played some of his best hockey when bumped to the top line. His size and fight along the wall brought a different element to the Tavares line that was lacking when Parenteau was there. However, the line was very successful and more consistent with Parenteau as the third man. And, to Parenteau's favor, he continued to produce when dropped to either the second or third lines.
I won't be surprised if this team decides to part ways with an older forward looking for a big pay raise from an organization that isn't exactly selling out every night. They may have the cap space, but that doesn't mean they have to use it. And when the organization looks back on 2012, they will remember that Okposo was able to step up and the first line continued to produce even without Parenteau on the wing.
It would certainly be a gamble, but it's very possible that Parenteau might be in a different colored jersey the next time he is on Coliseum ice.