Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Parise Settles

You have to believe that there is a lot of concern that was relieved when the pen was put to paper on this deal. Zach Parise signed a 4-year, $12.5 million deal on Wednesday and now the Devils have their brightest young star for the long-term. Parise's stock really rose in the playoffs as he scored 7 goals for the club, but it wasn't enough to lead them deeper into the playoffs.

For all you poolies, Parise finished the season in the Top 100 in only his second season. His 31 goals and 31 assists was good enough for 85th place on the list, 63rd amongst forwards. In a large draft, he could easily be a third rounder or a big gamble in the second round.

Patrik EliasDainius ZubrusZach Parise
Jamie LangenbrunnerBrian GiontaTomas Zajac
Jay PandolfoJohn MaddenSergei Brylin
Cam JanssenMike RuppDavid Clarkson
Karel RachunekPaul Martin *
Vitali VishnevskiColin White
Andy GreeneRichard Matvichuk
Martin Brodeur
Kevin Weekes

The Devils are much different looking after losing Scott Gomez to free agency, but they still have a lot of defensive prowess that makes Martin Brodeur one of the best players to pick in a pool. Brodeur finished 1st overall in last season's pool rankings, despite the big push by the youngster in Pittsburgh. It was the third time in four seasons that Brodeur was the best player in my pool, so he's a pretty safe bet, if there were any. Behind him is now Kevin Weekes, who should see a little more action than Scott Clemmensen did last season (4 games), in order to be more fresh for the playoffs.

Up front, the replacement for Gomez is Dainius Zubrus... not exactly tit for tat, but he will end up being a solid centre for the Devils this season. Brian Gionta should start the season as the number one centre, but for the pool rankings, Zubrus had 15 more points in 17 more games. Elias had himself a bit of an off season with only 21 goals, but his potential is so much higher that you could think of him as a 1st round pick, if you knew he was going to have a healthy year with a good centre setting him up.

On defense, Paul Martin, still a Restricted Free Agent, will probably take over the role left behind by Brian Rafalski (gone to Detroit). Once he signs, you can be comfortable in thinking that his numbers will go up. Karel Rachunek and Vitali Vishnevski joined the blueline and should make for an immediate effect. Both of their responsibility levels have gone up, which should leave you to believe that some more points could be tacked on to their previous season's totals.

The Devils were guilty of touching the ceiling in previous years when it came to the salary cap, but now that Alexander Mogilny and Vladimir Malakhov are off the books, the Devils have quite a bit of breathing space. With only Paul Martin to sign, the Devils sit comfortably at $43.3 million to payout this season. A clear $7 million short of the cap, a figure that Martin will not earn this season. Don't be terribly surprised if the Devils sured up their defense before the start of camp.

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