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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.

Hitchcock believes Blues’ Allen is ‘locked up mentally’

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 08: Jake Allen #34 of the St. Louis Blues makes the third period save against the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center on December 8, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Things were already rough for the St. Louis Blues and their goalies (particularly still-pretty-newly crowned No. 1 Jake Allen) heading into Thursday, but the Washington Capitals really highlighted those issues in a 7-3 thrashing.

Blues fans and management must be wondering, then: what’s wrong with their goalies, especially with Allen? Head coach Ken Hitchcock seems resigned to allowing him to fight through it, if nothing else.

“There’s a lot going on right now. … He’s kind of locked up mentally and he’s going to have to fight through this,” Hitchock said, according to Lou Korac of NHL.com. “What we see at practice, we like. That’s why we put him in quite frankly.”

Alex Pietrangelo did the typical deflecting thing, nothing that this is a “team” and that there are “no individuals.”

Still, Hitchcock’s longer press conference makes you wonder how much trust there is in Allen and Carter Hutton.

From Hitch’s perspective, it sure sounds like he believes that the Blues are over-correcting to try to limit “goals, shots.” By trying to do too much, they might be putting themselves in bad positions. And that might stem from a lack of confidence in the guys in net, or in the team’s work in their own zone overall.

Let’s be honest. As much as we can play chicken-or-the-egg as far as a defense’s impact on a goalie, it’s tough to explain away save percentages under .900 in the modern NHL. At some point, your team needs more stops.

With the races for the lower spots in the Western Conference’s playoff picture seemingly tightening up, the Blues don’t have a ton of time to figure this out.

Capitals shine glaring light on Blues’ goalie woes

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 23:  Jake Allen #34 of the St. Louis Blues makes a save during the first period against the San Jose Sharks in Game Five of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 23, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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If you’re reaction to the headline “Something is off about the St. Louis Blues” was “Yeah, their goaltending,” then Thursday only emboldened that opinion.

It wasn’t just that the Washington Capitals bombarded the Blues by a score of 7-3. It’s that they really didn’t need to fire a whole lot of shots on goal to get to seven.

Here’s a harsh rule of thumb: when both of your goalies play in a game and each one barely makes more saves than goals allowed, that’s an awful night. Take a look at what Jake Allen and Carter Hutton went through:

Allen: six saves, four goals allowed in 25:11 time on ice
Hutton: five saves, three goals allowed in 35:49

Allen got pulled from the contest twice, by the way. He’s been pulled from four games since Dec. 30. Woof.

Even before these horrendous performances, the Blues goalies have been shaky. Hutton came into tonight with an ugly .898 save percentage; Allen wasn’t much better with a .900 mark.

Those are the type of numbers that would make Dallas Stars fans cringe, or at least experience some uncomfortable familiarity.

Now, is it all on Hutton and Allen? Much like with the Stars’ embattled goalies, much of the struggles probably come down to a team struggling in front of them.

Even so, if you assign more of the blame to Allen and Hutton, nights like this Capitals thrashing definitely strengthen your argument. Yikes.

Rangers overwhelm Leafs, make life pretty easy for Lundqvist in win

TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 19:  Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers faces a shot in the warm-up prior to play against the Toronto Maple Leafs in an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on January 19, 2017 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
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Heading into Thursday, many were wondering how the New York Rangers will handle Henrik Lundqvist‘s struggles. Instead, the focus shifted to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ difficulties, perhaps specifically in dealing with Morgan Rielly‘s absence.

The Rangers handily won this one 5-2, at least giving Lundqvist the win. He wasn’t especially busy, stopping 23 out of 25 shots, so you can probably file his story under “To be continued.”

Lundqvist wasn’t oblivious to his team’s impressive overall play.

Really, it was all about the waves of attackers the Rangers can send at opponents and the trouble that caused for the Maple Leafs. It wasn’t the easiest night for Frank Corrado, in particular, who took a couple costly penalties.

The Rangers’ next two games come in a road contest vs. the Red Wings on Sunday and a home game against the Kings on Monday. Perhaps those matches will serve as a better barometer for where Lundqvist’s really at, as he passed tonight’s test … but it wasn’t a particularly difficult one.

So, is Mike Condon actually really good? He certainly was against Columbus

OTTAWA, ON - JANUARY 8: Mike Condon #1 of the Ottawa Senators stands at the bench during a break in a game against the Edmonton Oilers at Canadian Tire Centre on January 8, 2017 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
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Considering their numbers heading in, many were perplexed when the Ottawa Senators essentially replaced Andrew Hammond with Mike Condon. Now many are perplexed by just how strong Condon’s often been for Ottawa.

Thursday might stand as the prime example that this guy could be better than many expected.

The Columbus Blue Jackets dominated much of the play, generating a 42-28 shots on goal advantage, but Ottawa ended up winning 2-0 tonight.

Condon already came into tonight with a solid save percentage (.915 before this shutout), and he’s now won four of his last five games. Three of his four career shutouts have come this season.

Ignoring his one relief appearance with Pittsburgh this season for the sake of simplicity, just consider his tough times with Montreal last season. He went 21-25-6 with a shaky .903 save percentage.

This marks just his 21st start and 23rd appearance of this season, so it’s not a guaranteee for future results. Still … it’s another example that goalies are as just about as unpredictable as they are crucial to a team’s fate.

More and more, it seems like Condon might just be a difference-maker, and in the positive sense this time around.