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Can New Jersey keep Parise?

Zach Parise has 14 goals and 37 points through 42 games this season. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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Zach Parise has 14 goals and 37 points through 42 games this season. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

New Jersey Devils left winger Zach Parise remains a frequent subject of trade speculation because of his pending unrestricted free agent status this summer.

His comments to Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger will ensure his name remains in the rumor mill leading up to the NHL’s Feb. 27 trade deadline.

Parise admitted money would be a significant factor when contract negotiations with the Devils begin, but claimed the most important thing was “being competitive and having a chance to win the Stanley Cup.”

The Devils have made significant improvement over last season, where a horrific first half doomed their playoff hopes, and are in the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Despite the improvement, they're no longer the dominant, Stanley Cup contenders they were a decade ago. Since Parise joined the Devils in 2005-06, they've only advanced beyond the first round of the playoffs twice, the last time in 2007.

Devils GM Lou Lamoriello has yet to open contract talks with the Parise camp. That’s not surprising, as Lamoriello usually doesn’t get into negotiations with his free agents during the season. Parise told Chere it doesn't concern him.

Parise is currently earning $6 million on a one-year contract and could be in line for a raise up to $8 million per season. Chere suggested “a five-year, $45-million deal would be in line with other players of his quality.”

Hanging over any potential of a contract extension are reports from earlier this season the Devils are close to bankruptcy, which would have serious implications upon Lamoriello’s negotiations with Parise.

The scenario has led to speculation the Devils will trade Parise if he’s unsigned by the deadline, but as long as they remain in playoff contention they’ll hang onto him to make a push.

In the past, Lamoriello has been unwilling to move pending UFAs, retaining Bobby Holik, Brian Rafalski, Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta, even though he eventually lost them to free agency.

It’s no stretch to imagine he’ll do the same with Parise.

NOT ROSY FOR ROY

Buffalo Sabres center Derek Roy has frequently been mentioned as a trade candidate if the club opts to make a move in the coming weeks.

Roy, however, told Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News he’s not concerned about the rumors and is focused on trying to improve his game.

This has been a difficult season for Roy, as he’s been singled out by Buffalo fans and media for the club’s poor performance since mid-November. On pace for 48 points, Roy could finish with more than he did in his injury-shortened 2010-11 season (35), however he is currently out indefinitely with an arm injury.

Harrington reported Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray is believed to have scouted Roy and struggling teammate Drew Stafford during a visit to Buffalo in late-November. That’s only going to add more fuel to the rumors linking Roy to the Ducks, who reportedly will consider shaking up their roster if their core players don’t improve over the second half.

There have been suggestions the Sabres will ship Roy and Stafford to the Ducks for Ryan Getzlaf or Bobby Ryan, but that's pure fantasy.

NIITTYMAKI ON THE SIDELINES

San Jose Sharks goaltender Antero Niittymaki has been back on the club’s active roster since Dec. 23, but has yet to get into a game, even as a backup.
 
Niittymaki wants to play, but with Antti Niemi and Thomas Greiss as the established tandem, there’s been no opportunity for him to see action.

The Sharks could demote Niittymaki or Greiss, but they’d have to pass through waivers first, where there’s a good chance either would be claimed by another team.

Niittymaki is frustrated with the situation, but coach Todd McLellan said the goalie has maintained a positive attitude. Management has yet to approach the 31-year-old about a trade.

If Niittymaki does see some game time in the near future, it’ll be to showcase him for a trade.

 

Rumor Roundup appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and Kukla's Korner.

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