Report: New Jersey Devils file for arbitration with Zach Parise

The New Jersey Devils exercised their arbitration rights by filing with restricted free-agent Zach Parise this afternoon. The move isn’t surprising as the Devils and Parise have been unable to come to an agreement after continued negotiations.

To break it down, here’s what today’s news means. The Devils and Parise will have their case heard by an arbiter. After hearing both sides, the independent third-party will decide the appropriate salary for a one-year deal. At the end of the one-year contract, Parise will become an unrestricted free agent and will hit the open market. Of course, all of this can be avoided if the two sides can mutually decide on an appropriate contract before the hearing (or extension during next season). It’s important to note: even though the Devils have decided to file for arbitration, the two sides can continue to negotiate up until the hearing.

Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello has repeatedly expressed his desire to sign the talented left wing to a long-term extension. Unfortunately, reaching an agreement on terms has been difficult to say the least. Even with the decision to go to arbitration, the Devils are still looking for a long-term deal. From Lamoriello:

“”He knows that. Everything has been amicable as far as the talks. We will continue to work toward a long-term agreement.”

If there were ever a time to take Parise to arbitration, this would be it. In October, Parise tore his meniscus which caused him to miss 69 games this season. After a determined rehab, he was able to return for one last game at the end of the season against the Montreal Canadiens. Even though it was just a single game, he proved that he was able to return from an injury that was supposed to end his season. He finished the season with three goals and three assists in a total of 13 games.

The six points were a far cry from 38 goal, 82 point performance of the 2009-10 season.

Up until this injury, Parise had been relatively healthy for his entire NHL career. Surely that will be one of his talking points when facing arbitration this summer. He’ll talk about how he’s scored 30+ four times in his six year career. He’ll talk about how he had 83 goals and 176 points over a two-year span starting in 2008. He’ll talk about how he was an important player on the 2010 US Olympic team—a team solely made of stars. He’ll talk about how he should be entering his prime and despite his knee injury, deserves to be played like a star entering his prime. Would that be a raise from his current $5 million per season salary?

The salary cap hit may be the biggest part of the negotiations. It’s no secret the Devils were pressed firmly up against the cap last season when Ilya Kovalchuk’s contract was introduced to the organization. For at least one more season, they Devils will have to be careful (and creative) with their cash. If they can figure out a way to get through next season WITH Parise, things will get easier following the 2011-12 season. Why? That’s when the Devils see Brian Rolston, Colin White, and Bryce Salvador’s contracts come off the books. With almost $11 million made available, there would be much more room for Parise and his contract. But before we get to next season, the two sides have to agree on a salary for this season.

This is only the first predictable step for the New Jersey Devils and their young sniper. As the negotiations continue between the two-sides, we’ll keep you updated with any relevant breaking news.

The Panthers are healthy scratching Bolland, and he is their highest-paid forward, but they insist they’re not sending a message

Dave Bolland, Derek Nansen
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It feels like there’s a story brewing in Florida, where Dave Bolland — the team’s most-expensive forward, at $5.5 million a season — has been a healthy scratch for three consecutive games.

But according to head coach Gerard Gallant, there’s nothing to see here. Move along.

“There’s nothing to talk about,” Gallant said, per the Miami Herald. “He sat out, our team is playing well. There’s nothing more than that. We have to sit two guys and I like the way we’re playing. The next game is a different game. We may change something up, who knows.”

Bolland had just one goal and five points in 18 games prior to getting parked in the press box. Well, technically he got dropped to the fourth line before hitting the press box, but you get the idea. He’s not exactly in Gallant’s good graces.

Not helping Bolland’s case is the fact that, as Gallant pointed out, the club is playing pretty well without him. The Panthers have rebounded from a rough start to November by winning back-to-back games against the Islanders and Red Wings, which set them up nicely for the remainder of this current five-game road swing.

Florida has games still to play in St. Louis, Nashville, Columbus and New Jersey. It’ll be interesting to see when — or, if — he draws back into the lineup.

In closing, a reminder that Bolland’s in the second of a five-year, $27.5 million deal.

Canucks rookie Virtanen exits with upper-body injury, won’t return


After sitting out Friday’s game in Dallas, Vancouver’s Jake Virtanen had to be excited at drawing back in for tonight’s game against the Ducks.

Unfortunately, the excitement didn’t last long.

Virtanen suffered an upper-body injury after playing just 1:45 in the opening frame, and was ruled out of the contest during the intermission. It’s unclear exactly what happened, but it looks like Virtanen was injured on a hit by Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf.

Virtanen didn’t take another shift following the incident, and Getzlaf was given a minor penalty on the play.

While we don’t know what the injury is or it’s severity, losing Virtanen for any length of time would have ramifications for the Canucks and this year’s Canadian entry at the World Juniors. There has been talk of Virtanen possibly being released by the Canucks to participate in the tournament; last year, he was part of the team that captured gold in Montreal and Toronto.

Virtanen has played in 18 games for the Canucks this year, scoring one goal and four points while averaging 10:17 TOI per night.

McLellan sounds off on Oilers after shutout loss in Toronto

Todd McLellan

Edmonton lost for the fourth time in five games on Monday, a 3-0 defeat in Toronto that marked the second time in a week the Oilers have been shut out.

Needless to say, the head coach wasn’t happy.

In a fairly blunt and harsh assessment aimed at a variety of players, Todd McLellan had some choice words for what he called a “disappointing” effort.

Some of the more choice quotes:

“I didn’t think we were a very hard team. I didn’t think we stood over a lot of pucks. I didn’t think we won a lot of battles along the boards. I didn’t think we were competitive enough in a lot of areas.”

“When I look at the trip as a whole, we had some key, key people really under-perform on the trip. Significant minus numbers, not hitting the score sheet. It can’t always be the [Leon DraisaitlTaylor Hall line] that provides that.”

It’s fair to suggest that last one was directed at Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle.

Nugent-Hopkins has just two points and zero goals in his last five games, with a minus-8 rating. Eberle is pointless entirely, and also at minus-8 over the same stretch.

They’re hardly the only Oilers not pulling their weight at the moment, however. Edmonton has lost 15 times in its first 25 games, a figure that suggests there are more problems that just a couple of underachieving forwards.

Just ask McLellan, who all but admitted his team has issues matching up.

“We’re not where we need to be,” he said. “We’ve got work to do as a team, work to do as an organization to get bigger, stronger, harder, and physically win more battles than we lose.”

Roy: Avs ‘need, expect more’ from Varlamov


The tough times continue for Semyon Varlamov.

After another unsuccessful outing on Monday — allowing four goals on 27 shots in a loss to the Islanders — Varlamov was subjected to a familiar refrain: Patrick Roy saying the Avs need more from their No. 1 netminder.


You can hear all of the head coach’s comments in the video above but, for brevity’s sake, here’s the Varlamov stuff:

“It’s not easy for him. Obviously we need that extra save and we didn’t get it on the road. It’s hard to win if you’re giving four goals on the road.

“We just need more from him. He’s our No. 1 guy and we’re behind him, but we need, we expect more from him.”

There has to be serious concern about Varlamov right now, if there wasn’t already.

His save percentage through seven games in November (.891) is marginally better than it was through seven games in October (.889), and that’s not the only alarming stat. Varlamov’s yet to record a shutout this year, yet to record back-to-back victories and has given up at least three goals in six of his last seven starts.

Not good.

Compounding things for Colorado are the standings. The Avs are now 9-14-1 and mired in the Central Division basement, meaning that — if they have any hope of going on a tear and getting back into playoff content — they’ll need to do it soon.

Which means they might not have the time, or the patience, for Varlamov to find his game.