The New Jersey Devils have signed star forward Zach Parise to a one-year deal for $6 million, avoiding an arbitration hearing scheduled for Wednesday.
That deal assures that Parise, making his way back from a serious knee injury, is in the fold for the upcoming 2011-12 season and GM Lou Lamoriello told the Bergen Record that the sides will continue to endeavor to get the first-line winger signed to a long-term deal.
Parise earned $5 million last season, a year in which he was limited to 13 games and 3 goals by a knee injury that required surgery. He had been the catalyst of the Devils' offense the previous four seasons, scoring 146 goals.
"Once you go to arbitration, you can only get a one-year situation in this case. So, really what we have done is avoid arbitration by settling on one year with the understanding and intent to take whatever time is necessary to get a long-term deal." -- Devils' Lou Lamoriello to Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record
According to the rules of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, Parise can not sign another deal with the Devils until Jan. 1, 2012. The parties can negotiate a deal at any time and agree to terms, but it can not become official until Jan. 1.
Even with Friday's one-year deal in place, Parise remains on schedule to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1
"Once you go to arbitration, you can only get a one-year situation in this case," Lamoriello told The Record's Tom Gulitti. "So, really what we have done is avoid arbitration by settling on one year with the understanding and intent to take whatever time is necessary to get a long-term deal."
Parise told NHL.com on Wednesday that he wanted a long-term deal and had mixed emotions about Wednesday's arbitration hearing in Toronto.
Both sides agree that the one-year deal signed Friday not only avoids the potential for hard feelings that sometimes arises from the naturally contentious arbitration hearing, but also buys both sides time to iron a long-term deal for the 27-year-old Parise.
"It's a one-year deal and it's deal that currently make sense for both the player and the club," Parise's agent, Wade Arnott told The Record. "That's how I'd characterize it."
It was the Devils who filed for team-elected arbitration back on June 17 to prevent Parise from being able to field offer sheets from other teams when he became a restricted free agent July 1.
Parise was the final free agent on the Devils' docket and Lamoriello had a bit more financial leeway with which to negotiate this deal after trading Brian Rolston to the Islanders on Thursday, in exchange for Trent Hunter, and clearing almost $3 million of his 2012-13 cap hit.