Last year after #Jagrwatch, I tried to make the case that Jaromir Jagr's signing in Philly had a silver lining after the Pens signed Steve Sullivan. Similarly, after #Parisewatch, I think there are some reasons why it's not such a bad thing that Parise wasn't signed for something in the neighborhood of 10+ years and $90+ million.
This man is buying a more expensive suit today.
So here's a list of the reasons why neither I nor you should be cutting ourselves today:
1. He went to Minnesota.
Ahhh...Lake Minnetonka in Fall. Okay, I get it now, Zach.
First of all, Parise didn't sign with Philadelphia. I'll admit, seeing Parise play alongside Giroux would've made me soil my pants. Sure, I may have enjoyed seeing Philadelphia turn on Parise when he inevitably didn't deliver a Cup in his first two seasons. But I don't want him making it more difficult on the Penguins to win one either.
Heck, he didn't even go to Detroit or back to New Jersey. Minnesota is about the least detestable place Parise could've gone. And can you really hate a guy for wanting to play 20 minutes from where his family lives? Okay, enough with the sentimental crap and on to Pens-related reasons.
2. Parise's Contract Is Too Long.
I touched on this a bit while making the case that a long-term deal for Ryan Suter made more sense than Parise. Elite defensemen last longer, and are more effective later in their careers than wingers. We have no idea what the salary cap will be in 2025. But what we do know is that a cap hit of $7.5M for a 40-year-old winger not named Ray Whitney will probably be way too much.
Perhaps Minnesota's planning on Parise retiring before then and hoping the CBA at that point allows the cap hit to be erased. Perhaps Minnesota believes the salary cap will rise at a rate of more than 3% annually, making that $7.5M cap hit approximately 47% less painful at that point. But those are assumptions.
Either way, I'm more worried about the years between 2017-2018 and 2021-2022. Parise will be between the ages of 33 and 37 for those years. Will a 35-year-old Zach Parise be a $7.5M player at that age? That's a hell of a gamble. It may make sense from a marketing perspective if you're Minnesota to have the hometown hero as the face of the franchise even at that point. But from a hockey perspective it's too risky, and that's why it didn't make sense for Pittsburgh.
3. Parise's Not As Great As Some Believe.
Not seen in this picture: Zach Parise.
During #Parisewatch, you would've thought that Zach Parise was the second coming of Rocket Richard. He's not.
Parise's had exactly one 40-goal season (45 in '08-'09) in his seven-year NHL career. Granted, he's scored over 30 in five, but he's never touched 100 points either. Last season, Parise scored 31 goals and 38 assists. That tied Matt Moulson's offensive output and only beat Scott Hartnell by two points.
Moulson and Hartnell are good wingers, but nobody (save Jay Feaster) would give them $7.5M for the next 13 years. And before you mention it, yes, I realize that Moulson and Hartnell played regular minutes with John Tavares and Giroux, respectively. But wouldn't you think that playing on a regular wing pairing with Ilya Kovalchuk could inflate Parise's numbers a bit?
Look, Parise's a great, talented player, and I would've loved to see him filling the net for the Pens. But he's not better than the NHL's other top-10 wingers by a large margin. It's hard to say that Kovalchuk, James Neal, Marian Gaborik, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Daniel Sedin, and even Jordan Eberle wouldn't produce as well as Parise over the next five seasons. In the cases of Neal and Eberle, they may even out-produce Parise well beyond that. So I'll stop hyperventilating.
3. Parise Doesn't Fill The Pens' Greatest Need.
That need is on the blueline. The Pens scored the most goals in the NHL last season. They gave up more than 16 other teams. Staal for Sutter is obviously a bit of a downgrade, but Sullivan for [To Be Determined]?
Right now, the Pens are relying on a second pairing of Paul Martin/Matt Niskanen. I love how Niskanen closed the season and the Playoffs. He looked like he may be ready for top-4 minutes. But he hasn't been asked to do that consistently in the past. And let's be honest--while Paul Martin may not have been as terrible as some have claimed, he hasn't been as good as a typical top-4 defenseman making $5M/season. I think Martin will bounce back and be able to play as a top-4 guy, but pairing him with Matt Niskanen is not ideal. That's why the Pens need to sign at least an insurance policy on D. That's probably not going to happen in free agency (Carlo Colaiacovo is the best still available), but there may be someone available via trade, e.g., Keith Yandle, Jay Bouwmeester.
4. There Are Other Options For Crosby's Wing.
We all know the possibilities remaining. Among free agents, Shane Doan's obviously the most viable candidate if Glendale, AZ effectively kills the Jamison bid on Monday. I've been hoping for Doan since the beginning of free agency because he's a great fit for the Pens. Think Bill Guerin with more speed and skill. That sort of veteran presence up front was lacking in the playoffs, and Doan's grit fits the Bylsma system perfectly.
Alternatively, it may be a risk, but for very little money (maybe only $2M) the Pens could bring in Kristian Huselius. While health concerns are obviously there, he's a proven scorer when his body's in one piece. Remember how that whole Steve Sullivan thing worked out? One guy I don't think anyone wants to consider is Alexander Semin, and for good reason.
There are also potential trades available. Rick Nash is probably not do-able, but Bobby Ryan is certainly possible. And let's be honest--wouldn't it feel great to snag Ryan from under the noses of the Flyers? The problem would be the asking price, obviously, but if the Ducks want a first-round pick and a few stud prospects on D, the Pens will probably be happy to make that happen. I'm not such a fan of Mike Colligan's suggestion of Chris Stewart, unless it came fairly cheap. I've watched Stewart play in St. Louis quite a bit, and I simply haven't been impressed. It's a high-risk/reward deal, to be sure.
In any event, Zach Parise's snub of the Penguins shouldn't cause any sleepless nights from here on out. Even if the Pens do nothing, they're still in a good position to make the playoffs if Crosby, Malkin and Kris Letang remain fairly healthy. Ray Shero will have plenty of options come the trade deadline.