Even if Zach Parise doesn't re-sign on the dotted line to return to the New Jersey Devils prior to the start of free agency, there's no reason to believe the team for which he has spent the last seven seasons is completely out of the picture.
Left Wing - NJD
GOALS: 8 | ASST: 7 | PTS: 15
SOG: 87 | +/-: -8
Parise told Rich Chere of The Star-Ledger on Tuesday that New Jersey would still be a strong candidate for his services -- even if no deal were struck by the noon deadline on Sunday.
"I'm sure a lot of people would think that, but that's very far from the case," Parise told the paper. "If it does happen to get to Sunday, that's by no means saying I don't want to go back to New Jersey.
"I know the perception would be, 'Oh, he wants out.' But that's not the case. I haven't been lying. I've said all along how much I like playing in New Jersey. So that wouldn't be me saying, 'I don't want to play there anymore.'"
In addition to the Devils, the Detroit Red Wings, Minnesota Wild, Pittsburgh Penguins and, perhaps, the New York Rangers are the teams rumored to be very interested in luring the New Jersey captain.
In 82 games this past season, Parise connected for 31 goals and 69 points. He struck for eight goals and 15 points in 24 postseason games to finish sixth in playoff scoring.
"If [no deal were made by Sunday], my agents [Wade Arnott and Don Meehan] have done a very good job of doing the best they can to prepare me for it," Parise said. "First and foremost, we want to try to get things worked out with New Jersey."
Parise earned $6 million this season. He's expected to receive offers similar to the nine-year, $60 million contract Brad Richards signed last summer with the Rangers. That deal included a $10 million signing bonus last July and an $8 million signing bonus due next month.
What are the odds that the Devils and Parise do strike a deal before Sunday?
"I can't comment on that," Parise said. "But if it does get to July 1, it's going to be a bit overwhelming."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter: @mike_morreale