Montreal Canadiens v New Jersey Devils

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.

Eaves to stick with Benn, Seguin on Dallas’ top line

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Patrick Eaves‘ cameo alongside the dynamic duo of Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin looks like it’ll continue at least one more game.

Eaves, who along with Benn assisted on Seguin’s goal in Saturday’s loss to Chicago, practiced on Dallas’ top line today and should be there tomorrow when the Stars take on the Wild.

“Seguin, Benn and Eaves were in on 11 chances [Saturday against Chicago],” head coach Lindy Ruff explained, per the Stars’ website. They could have three or four [goals]. They should have had three or four. We missed too many good opportunities.”

This latest development is a positive in what’s been a tough year for Eaves. He was hurt early in the season after an awkward fall against the Oilers — a game in which he opened on the club’s top line, next to Benn and Seguin.

All told, he has just three goals and six points in 33 games.

Last year, Eaves was plagued with concussion issues but still managed to produce well, scoring 14 goals and 27 points in just 47 games.

After re-upping in Winnipeg, Byfuglien says leaving ‘never really crossed my mind’

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There was some speculation Dustin Byfuglien would be out of Winnipeg by the Feb. 29 trade deadline or, failing that, when free agency hit on July 1.

But according to him, leaving was never really an option.

“I’ve been here five years and from where we’ve started and where we’re at now, I don’t feel as an organization or a group that we’re far off,” Byfuglien told TSN 1290 on Monday, after inking a big five-year, $38 million extension with the Jets. “My family and I have found Winnipeg nice, and we’re very happy to stay here.

“It never really crossed my mind of going anywhere, and I’m excited to be a Jet.”

Prior to this extension, though, some thought leaving had definitely crossed Byfuglien’s mind.

Back in mid-December, the Free Press reported his initial ask was a whopping eight-year, $55 million deal. Some viewed that as his first potential step out the door.

It would’ve been big money and a lot of term for the Jets to commit, especially given 1) Byfuglien is 30, 2) the team still hasn’t signed captain Andrew Ladd, and 3) the club has some prized youngsters that need new deals this summer, specifically Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba. (In that same Free Press report, Trouba’s ask was $56 million over eight years.)

Then, there was Byfuglien at All-Star weekend.

When asked about his future — sign, trade or head to free agency? — Byfuglien said he had “no problem” with Winnipeg, adding “I just want to put on a jersey, to be honest with you.”

Some, like TSN’s Frank Seravalli, who was in attendance for the Byfuglien media scrum, noted the response “did not exactly sound like a ringing endorsement.”

Of course, Byfuglien later clarified his remarks following the All-Star Game.

“Yeah, I’d love to,” he told reporters when asked about re-signing in Winnipeg. “I’ve met a lot of good people and now some really good friends. I’ve been here for a long time. You never want to leave home. I’ve been here long enough; my family has been here and I’ve had two kids here.

“It’s somewhere you don’t want to leave.”

And now — well, for the next five years anyway — Byfuglien won’t have to.

Video: Jets’ Stafford suspended one game for ‘forceful, reckless’ high-stick

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The NHL has dinged Winnipeg forward Drew Stafford one game for his ugly high stick on Colorado’s Nick Holden over the weekend.

“While we accept Stafford’s assertion that he did not intentionally strike Holden in the face, he is responsible for the consequences of swinging his stick in such a forceful and reckless fashion,” the Department of Player Safety explained.

Stafford, who wasn’t penalized on the play, will now miss Winnipeg’s next game — tonight, in St. Louis — and will be eligible to return on Thursday when the Jets host the Bruins.

Stafford will also forfeit $23,387.10 in salary to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

Big Buff, Big Bucks: Jets ink Byfuglien to five-year, $38 million extension

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One of the most prized trade deadline targets is no longer.

On Monday, Winnipeg locked in pending UFA d-man Dustin Byfuglien to a five-year, $38 million extension, one that carries a $7.6M cap hit and makes him the highest-paid player on the team.

Byfuglien, 30, was in the last of a five-year, $26 million deal with a $5.2M average annual cap hit. One of the league’s most unique players — a 6-foot-5, 265 pounder that’s played forward and defense, and participated in this year’s fastest skater All-Star skills competition — his bio from the Jets’ release pretty much sums up how much he means to the club:

[Byfuglien] has recorded 32 points (15G, 17A) so far this season while appearing in all 52 games and sits in a tie for second amongst all NHL defencemen with his 15 goals.

Byfuglien leads the Jets so far this season in shots (163), penalty minutes (78) and ice time (24:14 per game).

The native of Roseau, MN, was named to the 2016 NHL All-Star Game in Nashville, TN where he recorded a goal and an assist for the Central Division team.

Byfuglien has been named to the All-Star Game in each of the last four seasons that the game has taken place (2011, 2012, 2015, 2016).

The deal keeps Byfuglien in Winnipeg through 2022 and is the latest long-term deal on the blueline: Tobias Enstrom is at $5.75M per through 2018, and Tyler Myers is at $5.5M per through ’19. Byfuglien’s deal also comes after some questioned how badly he wanted to stay in Winnipeg — at All-Star weekend, he raised eyebrows by responding “I just want to put on a jersey, to be honest with you,” when asked about his playing future.

The five-year term is also down from Byfuglien’s reported original ask, which was $55 million over eight years.

With this move done, Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff can now turn his attention to another prized pending UFA: Andrew Ladd, the club’s captain and another player that’s believed to have high interest around the league as a trade deadline rental.