What If Zach Parise Never Leaves The New Jersey Devils

Zach Parise #9 of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Zach Parise #9 of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The New Jersey Devils had a really great captain in Zach Parise. Of course, the last game that he ever played with them was game six of the 2012 Stanley Cup Final where they were defeated by the Los Angeles Kings. He left to go to the Minnesota Wild in free agency on one of the craziest contracts in the history of the National Hockey League. You can argue that his contract was a part of the reason that the 2012-13 season began with a lockout.

Following his departure, the Devils started to fall apart. They have missed the playoffs every year since except one and were pretty bad in all of them. They won the lottery twice which is very nice as Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes are foundational pieces that would likely not be there had Parise stayed. However, it is interesting to think about what might have happened had he stayed.

If Parise stayed, the team would be wildly different all around. There is no way that a lot of the current young guys would be there right now. The team would have obviously been much better had their point per game captain stayed on board so the lottery or high draft pick results would be completely different.

When he left for the Wild, he signed an identical contract with Ryan Suter. The two long-time friends partnered up in free agency to go to the Wild. You have to wonder if Parise would have stayed if Suter would have joined him. If he did, that 2012-13 Devils team might have been much better and had a chance at the Cup again.

About a year later, New Jersey lost Ilya Kovalchuk to retirement. He wasn’t old or anything but he decided to leave the Devils so he can go home to Russia and play in the KHL. Obviously, he might not have done that had Parise stayed.

There has also been a massive overhaul in the front office. Lou Lamoriello was still the general manager when Parise left for Minnesota. It wasn’t long after that Lou left and appointed Ray Shero to be the new guy. Since then, Shero has been fired and Tom Fitzgerald was named the guy and remains in that position to this day.

Things would be so different for the New Jersey Devils had Zach Parise stayed.

It was a trickle-down effect that may have never happened if Parise stayed. There is a good chance that Lou would try to continue building around Parise if he was there to build around. There were pieces there to get it done.

Parise staying would have not stopped Martin Brodeur from getting into his 40s. With that in mind, the Devils might have been able to get a lot more out of his replacement, Cory Schneider, had there been a good team in front of him. Parise staying might have allowed that to happen.

By 2021, however, the Devils would be a lot earlier in a rebuild than they are right now if Parise stayed with them back in 2012. The Minnesota Wild bought him out this summer and he is still waiting to sign with a team. With lots of young talent ready to take the next step in New Jersey, it is going to be worth the wait.

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New Jersey hasn’t been dumb in free agency lately and has built the team mostly through the draft which is the right way to do it. Hopefully, they are able to take advantage of something bad that happened to them almost a decade ago.