NEWARK, N.J. -- There's really no shortage of topics to discuss with Zach Parise at this point of the season, but the one that's not likely to go away until April is his future with the New Jersey Devils.
Parise is one of the League's bright young stars, but after signing a one-year contract this offseason, he will be staring at unrestricted free agency if the Devils don't lock him up. Following his practice session on the team's first day of training camp, the questions started.
Q: Do you expect to have this hanging over you all season?
"I was anticipating people asking that questions, and I'll give you the same answer throughout the whole season," Parise said respectfully. "We're working on it. Nothing's going to change. Mentally, I feel great. I feel fresh. I'm excited to start."
Q: Any worries the contract stuff will become a distraction?
"Not at all," Parise said. "I guess I haven't really been exposed to media all summer, so no one's been asking, but I don't foresee it being a problem. Like I said, you can ask me now or you can ask me in two months -- we're working on it. I'm sure people are going to keep reminding about it, but I don't see it affecting my play."
Another question Parise has been asked consistently is whether he wants or expects to receive the team's vacant captaincy. Having just a one-year contract, it makes it a complicated issue for the Devils. Parise said he would accept the 'C' if coach Peter DeBoer wanted to bestow it upon him. But goaltender Martin Brodeur talked about how there's no easy choice.
"The pick of a captain is when you pick one, you need to make sure you pick the right one," Brodeur said. "I grew up watching the Montreal Canadiens and being the captain in that organization is a big deal. And lately, we've been kind of swapping around captains. We're trying to build a little more of an organization that's going to have the stability we had for years with Scotty (Stevens) as captain.
"A guy like Zach, he's going to be looked at as a big leader, just like (Ilya Kovalchuk), just because of the talent they have and the impact they have on other players. That's why they have to take their time. They have to make sure all the pieces are in places, if that's the route (Parise as captain) they want to go."