Will Garth Snow Sign Zach Parise To An Offer Sheet?

I typically stay away from blogs like these. I am not a fan of speculating moves that require this strategy and thought. Don't get me wrong; it's fun to get caught up in the UFA frenzy that begins on July 1st and start guessing which players your team might target or which impending UFA's are on the move at the trade deadline. But signing another team's RFA's? That's usually as a good a guess as anyone's and something that is not seen nearly as often. So here is a disclaimer. This is one of my rare speculation blogs. Do not get your hopes up thinking that this is something that will definitely happen. It's all for fun - but it is certainly some food for thought.

Zach Parise was drafted by the New Jersey Devils in the 1st round at 17th overall of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. Currently at 26 years of age, Parise will be a restricted free agent by the off-season. He has spent all six seasons of his NHL career with the Devils. This one, however, has been put on hold after playing twelve games since he went down with a knee injury. Although he has begun skating on his own, it remains to be seen if he will return to the Devils line-up, but you can bet that they are hoping to have him back as soon as possible with their late attempts to sneak into the playoffs.

You don't have to ask many Islanders fans about what happened in 2003 at that draft. Former Isles GM Mike Milbury was heading up to the podium with every analyst anticipating him to select Parise, the son of former Islander J.P. Parise, who spent four seasons in an orange and blue jersey between 1974 and 1978. The kid had ties to Long Island and had a truck load of potential. But Milbury selected Robert Nilsson instead. He would later be traded to Edmonton in the Ryan Smyth deal that was orchestrated by Garth Snow and now is no longer playing in the NHL. While on the other hand, Parise has put up over 80 points in the past two seasons (94 and 82 respectively) and had six points before this season's injury. He also scored a very memorable goal for Team USA in last year's Olympics in the gold medal game against Canada. He scored the tying goal with just seconds to go in the third period, and although every Islander fan celebrated for their country, a part of them died inside knowing that this all-star could have (and some will say should have) been theirs.

Although I have had trouble finding quotes from that day, Parise expressed a bit of surprise that the Islanders did not draft him. There were even games in the seasons that followed that draft where Parise's statements and emotions expressed some indication of disappointment that the team his Dad played for had passed on him. But Parise has always been a class act professional and quickly would state that he was proud to be part of the New Jersey Devils organization.

But Garth Snow has a chance to change that.

Devils GM Lou Lamoriello's hands are tied when it comes to contracts. They already have a lot of money invested in next year's cap, especially after this past summer's addition of Ilya Kovalchuk to a heavy contract for the next decade. Elias, Zubrus, Rolston, Zajac, Clarkson, Volchenkov and Brodeur already eat up some big numbers as well. It would be wrong to discount Lamoriello's ability to find his way under the cap ceiling before it's too late, but he will certainly have a hard time if he intends to resign Parise regardless of the injury with his career still on the rise.

Snow has the opportunity to fix the mistake that Milbury made years ago by signing Parise to an offer sheet that will keep him in an Islanders uniform for year's to come. It would definitely cost the Islanders at least a first round pick in next year's draft; but the Devils have lost one of their first round picks in a four year span as a result of attempting to circumvent the CBA in the Kovalchuk signing. More picks would likely be added to the Devils compensation, but it's a price tag that might be worth it to the Islanders.

Players like Tavares and Okposo have yet to have that sniper to play with that can create chances on the ice and score the big goals that lack in many games. The young guys have proven that they are competitive and can out work some of the best teams in the league. Some might argue that they are just one or two key players away from becoming a playoff team. Parise can be one of the difference makers to help take this team to the next step.

That doesn't mean that Lamoriello would go quietly. He will not want to see one of his team's best scorers in years go to a division rival to haunt them the same way that Parise has haunted the Islanders.

Plus it's hard to say whether or not Snow will even consider a gutsy move like this. He will have a few impending RFA's of his own next year, most notably Tavares. He can be playing with fire if he steals Parise from the Devils. Also, Snow has been dedicated to the rebuild and has yet to move any of his first round picks after committing to the plan, so his history would not suggest he would give up his first round pick in next year's draft for an offer sheet. But would adding a young guy like Parise to a young core of players that could use his leadership be considered deviating from the plan? Snow might feel that way and may choose to remain patient with the development of his draft picks and continue adding some veteran role players through free agency like he has in the past. But he might not...

It is an interesting scenario, isn't it?

-Rob McGowan

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George Prax's picture

Trust me Rob, the Isles aren't the only team that regret not taking Zach Parise in that draft. It's hard to say because there are some really good players that went ahead of him (Fleury, Staal, Phaneuf, Carter, Brown, and hell, most before him are regular NHLers), but as a Habs fan I can definitely attest to that as the Canadiens drafted Andrei Kostitsyn.

The guy is a special player. Like I said there are lots of good ones drafted ahead of him but two years ago I was lobbying heavily to see him get nominated for the Hart. He can be one of the best players in the NHL and it's sort of unfortunate that he plays on a defensive team because I think if he played on a more offensive-minded team the guy would easily be a 100 point getter and possibly even a 50 goal scorer every year or just about.

It would be stupid to let the Devils sign him at a discount and get him under the cap, If not the Isles then someone else needs to sign him to an offer sheet. Lou is likely to match but even if he does, you're handicapping a team that really has little money to pay such an elite player. If Parise signs and the Devils can't match, you give up a lot but for a player that's worth it and one that will have a chance to haunt his former team. If Snow has any brains left, he does this.

Great blog, I really enjoyed the whole scenario thing!

Rob McGowan's picture

Thanks George. As an Islander fan it is something to enjoy thinking about but at the same time it's something that might not even happen. Management hasn't even hinted at any possibility of this; not like any organization would at this point in the season. But the possibility WILL be there. So of course, it's hard to not think about it haha

Fivehole's picture

Hey Rob, Nice job with the blog, by the way. Anyhow, I don't normally support the RFA offer sheet, as the cost of picks surrendered is usually prohibitive. Parise is an interesting case, though. His insertion into the Isles lineup would be such a positive step forward for this team on so many levels. It would give J.T. the ELITE scoring winger he needs, and his work ethic and leadership would rub off on the young core. It would give fans back the player who many feel was rightfully ours, and taken from us by Milbury. Parise is the one RFA this year that is worth the price of an offer sheet.

A slightly more likely scenario might be a comparable trade offer to Lou by Garth on draft day. If the Isles finish with a pick outside of the top 5-7, maybe that #1 and a #3, along with a top Goalie prospect(Koskinen), and a top Defense prospect (deHaan),(& don't forget the cap relief) can get it done. In either case, Garth is gonna have to swallow hard to make this kind of decision. It could be a decision that redefines the franchise going forward. I can only dream about this becoming reality.

Rob McGowan's picture

Fivehole - I agree that a trade would be a more peaceful solution that could work for both sides, but I don't expect those two prospects to be moved with Koskinen's potential paired with DP's uncertainty as well as de Haan being an up and coming blue liner that they traded up to get in his draft class. But that doesn't mean something couldn't be worked out.

drock24's picture

Parise would be a great way for the Islanders to immediately step up their contention; however, I sincerely doubt Parise would sign an offer sheet from Garth Snow, and highly doubt that Snow would be willing to part with all of the first rounders he would lose for signing to the type of money you're suggesting. That's suiciide.