News and views leading up to Canada Day, better known as The Day GMs in the NHL Generally Take Leave of Their Senses:
NEWS: New Jersey Devils left winger Zach Parise is scheduled to meet with his agents Monday in Minnesota to discuss his strategy for July 1.
VIEWS: With the New Jersey franchise teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, there is no way Parise returns to the Devils, not with the kind of stability and payday that await him in any number of other cities.
And who can blame him? Would you want to make a long-term commitment to an employer whose financial situation is so tenuous when you have dozens of other options available? Of course not. All things being equal, the Devils would stand an excellent chance of retaining Parise with a long-term deal, but they are not in the position to be throwing around Ilya Kovalchuk-like contracts anymore.
Speculation is the Minnesota Wild are basically prepared to top any offer Parise will receive July 1 in both money and term, but if he wants an opportunity to win the Stanley Cup in the next couple of seasons, his three most likely options are the Pittsburgh Penguins, Los Angeles Kings and Detroit Red Wings.
The Penguins and Red Wings will push hard to sign both Parise and soon-to-be unrestricted free agent defenseman Ryan Suter July 1 and one of them could end up with both players. After losing Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart, the Red Wings will undoubtedly push harder for Suter because filling that void will be the bigger priority. If the Red Wings do manage to sign both players, they instantly become a serious contender for the Stanley Cup again. But with a roster that appears to be in decline and no impact players in that crucial 22-28 age range, the Red Wings might not be able to offer Parise and Suter the same opportunity to win that the Penguins can.
NEWS: The Pittsburgh Penguins trade center Jordan Staal to the Carolina Hurricanes on draft day.
VIEWS: There was a time when Penguins GM Ray Shero was being mentored by Nashville Predators GM David Poile, but perhaps now it’s time Poile took a page from the book of his former protégé.
Shero gets enormous marks for gutsiness by recognizing the situation with Staal and dealing him immediately. By turning down a 10-year, $60 million deal from the Penguins, Staal made it clear he was never going to stay with them long-term. So instead of spending a season trying to convince him to stay and watching his trade value go down, Shero made the best of a bad situation and did the best deal he could under the circumstances.
Now it’s time for Poile to do the same thing with Shea Weber. Poile has spent the better part of the past year trying to convince Weber to stay with the Predators and he has yet to sign a long-term contract. With Suter almost certainly on his way out, the prospects of Poile doing that decrease considerably. Weber has had multiple opportunities to sign a long-term deal with Nashville and he has chosen not to do so. The betting here is he never will.
And Poile will never get more for Weber than he will right now. If he were to put Weber on the open market, he would be able to create a frenzy and certainly get much more for him than Shero was able to obtain for Staal.
If Poile waits until the 2013 off-season, all he’ll get is a second round pick in exchange for allowing a team to negotiate exclusively with Weber.
Yes, it stinks. But that’s the business of hockey. The Predators will always be faced with these kinds of decisions and in the absence of a collective bargaining agreement that truly addresses the disparities between the haves and have-nots of the league, it will always be this way.
NEWS: The Toronto Maple Leafs acquire left winger James van Riemsdyk from the Philadelphia Flyers for defenseman Luke Schenn.
VIEWS: Schenn has basically emerged as the poster boy for how not to draft and develop players. The Leafs wanted Schenn so badly in 2008 that they moved up two spots to get him at No. 5 overall, passing on other defensemen such as Tyler Myers, Jake Gardiner, Michael Del Zotto, Erik Karlsson and John Carlson. The fact Schenn and Myers played for the same Kelowna Rockets junior team represents an even bigger indictment of the Leafs and their scouting department.
While all those other players were continuing to hone their games in junior, college or European hockey, the Leafs saw fit to rush Schenn into the NHL as an 18-year-old for no apparent reason. Then instead of putting him into situations where he could succeed when he struggled last season, they killed his confidence.
After four years in the Leafs organization, Schenn is undoubtedly eager to see them in his rear-view mirror. The betting here is Schenn will be a much better NHL player in another organization. The same goes for Jonas Gustavsson, who will probably sign with the Winnipeg Jets or another organization for less money and emerge a capable NHL goalie, once he gets away from a goaltending coach who insisted on making him something he’s not.
Ken Campbell is the senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com with his column. To read more from Ken and THN’s other stable of experts, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.