Parise wants to avoid arbitration, would consider one-year deal

Another day has passed and yet another day without any news on the Zach Parise contract front. The Parise camp continues to work towards a long-term deal that would provide security while the New Jersey Devils continue to work on a deal that would make season for their team and salary cap structure. Without the threat of offer-sheets from opposing teams, both sides know they have until their arbitration hearing to work out a deal that is palatable for both sides. Today, it was announced that they’ll have until August 3rd. If they can’t work out a deal by then, both sides will present their cases to an independent arbitrator who will then decide on a contract amount based on the arguments heard.

In the arbitration hearings, basically the player’s agent will talk about how great their client is on the ice and in the locker room. The organization will counter with each and every fault the player has in painstaking detail. Zach Parise must have received the memo from his brethren in the players association: salary arbitration is not a pleasant experience. He knows that a salary arbitration hearing could get ugly:

“”That’s what I’ve heard. I’ve never been through that. Maybe that’s some of the reason why no one wants to go (to arbitration). You don’t want it to get ugly. I don’t think the organization wants it like that and we don’t want it like that.

“Hopefully we won’t have to go through that. I don’t think any organization wants to cut down their own player.”

Parise’s case could be an interesting if it ever makes it before an arbitrator. From the team’s perspective, the hearing couldn’t come at a better time. Parise is coming off a serious knee injury that caused him to miss 69 games last season. Obviously, his 13 games played, 3 goals, and 3 assists are all career lows for the former 1st round pick.  Those don’t exactly sound like a player who should have earned $5 million last season.

On the other hand, Parise has showed himself to be one of the most productive players from one of the best drafts ever. At only 26 years old, he already has 163 goals and 341 points in his career. He’s proven to be better than a point-per-game player when playing for his country in the World Championships and 2010 Olympics. Over the course of his last two season (when he was healthy), he piled up 83 goals and 176 points. These are exactly the type of stats an arbitrator will look at when determining Parise’s value. Those aren’t the stats of a good player—those are the stats of an elite NHL scorer.

It’s doubtful that the Devils would want an outsider to tell them how much a guy like that is worth on the open market.

With the August 3rd hearing date set today, both sides know they have almost four weeks to come to an agreement. If the Devils and Parise can’t come to a long-term agreement that gives both the team and player security, a one-year deal may be a necessary step in the process. Remember, if Parise accepts a one-year deal, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent at the end of next season. Then there will be no arbitrator to determine Parise’s salary—only the open market.

Can you imagine? And we thought the Brad Richards sweepstakes was crazy.

A big night for the rookies and a big win for the Maple Leafs

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William Nylander helped get Toronto started on Thursday, extending his point streak to 10 games — a new Maple Leafs franchise record for a rookie.

Connor Brown finished it with his 17th goal of the season, securing a 4-2 win for the Maple Leafs over the New Jersey Devils.

Toronto has won three in a row and moves three points clear of Boston for third in the Atlantic Division, with a game in hand, which further helps the Maple Leafs’ playoff chances with nine games remaining on their schedule.

Just another big night for Toronto’s impressive crop of rookies.

Auston Matthews had a pair of assists.

— Nylander had a goal and an assist. He set one and tied another franchise rookie record on Thursday.

Mitch Marner had an assist, giving him 40 helpers this season, which ties the franchise rookie record set in 1943-44.

“They’re good players,” said coach Mike Babcock, per the Toronto Star. “I didn’t know Marner would make the team. I knew Matthews and Nylander were good players. I knew Brown and (Zach) Hyman were relentless. I had no idea (Nikita) Zaitsev was as close to how good he is.

“We have lots of good players.”

In May of 2015, Babcock predicted at his introductory press conference that the Maple Leafs would, during their massive rebuild, endure “pain.” This was, he said, to be a long process — a “massive, massive challenge.”

Approaching the two-year anniversary of that event — after all the losing that franchise and its fan base has gone through, which obviously helped them with the Matthews lottery last year — the Maple Leafs are poised to make the playoffs with a nucleus of young players that present even more promise for the future.

“We just want to get in to the playoffs, and give ourselves a chance,” continued Babcock. “We’re playing well, and finding a way to win games. That’s what we have to continue to do.”

Capitals defeat Blue Jackets in clash of Metropolitan Division powers

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WASHINGTON (AP) T.J. Oshie scored the shootout winner as the Washington Capitals overcame a stellar performance from Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to beat the Blue Jackets 2-1 Thursday night.

Despite 44 saves from Bobrovsky, the Capitals reached 104 points and extended their lead atop the Metropolitan Division and NHL standings. Oshie engendered memories of his Sochi Olympic shootout performance by again beating Bobrovsky, the goalie he scored on four times in six chances that day.

Dmitry Orlov finally cracked Bobrovsky early in the third period on Washington’s 35th shot of the game. Orlov’s goal tied the score after Seth Jones beat Braden Holtby on a wild scramble early in the third for his first goal since Feb. 7.

Holtby had 29 saves in regulation and overtime and three more in the shootout to pick up his 38th victory of the season, one shy of Bobrovsky for the league lead.

A showdown between two of the top three teams in the league jockeying for position atop the Metropolitan Division lacked a playoff feel. But the matchup of two likely Vezina Trophy finalists lived up to that billing as Bobrovsky and Holtby went back and forth with big saves.

Bobrovsky entered the night first in wins, goals-against average and save percentage with Holtby second, second and third in those categories. The 2013 Vezina winner could also be an MVP contender this season given his value to Columbus’ third playoff berth in franchise history.

“When he’s in his game it’s very hard to score on him,” said Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, who had eight shots stopped by one of his Russian national teammates. “He likes the big moments, he likes pressure. His worth ethic is unbelievable. … In my opinion he’s one of the best goalies in the league right now.”

Methot ‘out for weeks’ after suffering a shattered finger from Crosby clash

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The Ottawa Senators lost defenseman Marc Methot for the bulk of Thursday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and it seems he’ll be out for quite a while longer, too.

Methot was injured on a Sidney Crosby slash across the hand in the first period. He didn’t return to the game and there was no penalty called on the Penguins captain.

Footage showed the gruesome aftermath of the slash — Methot’s finger on his left hand bloodied and injured as he skated back to the bench.

“His finger is shattered and he’s out for weeks,” said Senators head coach Guy Boucher, per the Ottawa Sun.

Methot immediately confronted Crosby after the slash, which occurred as the Sens blue liner went to dump the puck into the Pittsburgh zone late in the first period.

The Senators got revenge, scoring a 2-1 shootout victory to move within a point of Montreal for the Atlantic Division lead. Crosby was also denied in the shootout.

NHL to make ‘special announcement’ in China next week

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The National Hockey League has announced it will make a “special announcement” at the LeSports Center in Beijing, China next Thursday.

In January, the league’s deputy commissioner Bill Daly made it clear the NHL has interest in playing games in China — likely starting out with pre-season games before potentially adding in some regular season contests in the future, as well.

Just after the league made its announcement on Thursday, the L.A. Kings tweeted out that they will participate in next week’s event, along with the Vancouver Canucks.

In January, hockey insider Darren Dreger reported that the Canucks and Kings were likely to play NHL pre-season games in China this upcoming September.

Last July, members of the Boston Bruins visited China, specifically Beijing and Shanghai, to host hockey clinics in those cities.

Beijing will also host the 2022 Winter Olympics.