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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.

Devils unveil ‘The Salute’ statue in honor of Martin Brodeur

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The New Jersey Devils on Monday unveiled ‘The Salute’ — a statue paying homage to one of the greatest goalies in NHL history, Martin Brodeur, who will have his No. 30 uniform retired Tuesday at Prudential Center.

“Looking at the pictures of my career and some of the events that meant a lot to me, I always saluted the fans,” Brodeur, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Devils, told the Fire and Ice blog.

“That picture, at different times, in different jerseys, actually, like with Team Canada, it all came to that same pose.”

More on the statue from the Devils:

The 900-pound bronze statue was created by renowned sculpture and artist Jon Krawczyk, who worked with Brodeur on the design. Krawczyk, a Boonton Township, N.J. native and lifelong Devils fan, who also created the hockey statue on Championship Plaza outside of Prudential Center, personally drove “The Salute” from his Malibu, Cali. studio to the arena late last week.

Video: Panthers furious after Abdelkader ‘cheap shot’ hit on Barkov

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The Florida Panthers are fuming after their skilled 20-year-old forward Aleksander Barkov left Monday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings following a hit from Justin Abdelkader.

Abdelkader caught Barkov with a hard hit near the goal line as the Panthers player tried to move the puck up ice early in the second period.

The only call on the play was to Panthers’ blue liner Alex Petrovic for the retaliatory cross check on Abdelkader. Barkov left the game and didn’t return with an upper-body injury.

Members of the Panthers irate with the hit, and the fact there was no call.

“It was a cheap hit, I don’t know how the ref didn’t call it,” Nick Bjugstad told the Miami Herald. “It was frustrating, the whole bench felt that way. We’re not happy with it. It turned the game around. Barkov has tough shoes to fill. It looked pretty serious. We’ll see how the league handles it and I think they will. I just don’t know how it wasn’t handled on the ice.”

“You hate to lose your top player, but that’s part of the game,” added Panthers’ head coach Gerard Gallant.

“We’re disappointed to lose him. I thought it was a cheap shot but the referees didn’t see it that way and explained to me it was a clean check. It’s tough. It happens quick and we get to see the replay. I think it’ll be looked at. [Abdelkader] left his feet a little and got him in the jaw.”

The Panthers gave up three goals in the third period in a 3-0 loss to the Red Wings.

Penguins thump the Ducks as Crosby’s hot streak continues

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In a meeting between two clubs enjoying hot streaks and their own subsequent climbs through the standings, the Pittsburgh Penguins bested the Anaheim Ducks courtesy another dominant Sidney Crosby performance on Monday.

After that slow start, Crosby has put together a growing number of dominant performances of late.

The latest, a four-point night, helped the Penguins to a 6-2 final over the Ducks, stopping Anaheim’s winning streak at six games.

— He extended his scoring streak to a career best seven games, and did so with two beauty goals versus the Ducks.

— From Dec. 18 to Feb. 8, he’s appeared in 21 games. In that span, he’s recorded 34 points.

— Crosby is now into the top five among NHL players in points, with 53 in 51 games this season.

He wasn’t the only Pittsburgh player to have a big night. Keep in mind, Evgeni Malkin wasn’t even in the lineup due to a lower-body injury.

Ten different Penguins players recorded points. In addition to Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang had multi-point efforts, and four players — Kunitz, Crosby, Olli Maatta and Patric Hornqvist — were plus-four.

The Penguins now move into third in the Metropolitan Division, while the New York Islanders slip into the first Wild Card spot in the East. Pittsburgh’s lead over the Islanders, however, is only one point.

The Islanders also have a game in hand.

Panthers’ Barkov (upper-body injury) leaves game versus Red Wings

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The Florida Panthers will be without Aleksander Barkov for the remainder of their game versus the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.

As per multiple reports, Barkov will not return due to an upper-body injury suffered after a hit from Justin Abdelkader early in the second period.

Abdelkader wasn’t given a penalty on the play. Barkov didn’t play another shift after that hit.

In 42 games this season, the 20-year-old Barkov has 16 goals and 35 points.