July 1, 2012
Sens pick up chase for Parise
By DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency
OTTAWA - On Canada Day, the Senators will have money to burn.
More than enough to offset the fireworks on Parliament Hill. Plenty to cause a real celebration in the nation’s capital.
And then some.
Hey, we’re not talking about extra cash to frivolously throw away here. No, this is coin they actually must hand out, at some point or another.
And why not offer it to Zach Parise now?
He’s exactly what they need.
As they should, the Senators will make a big pitch for Parise on Sunday, an NHL source says. If they don’t get him, they’ll intensify their pursuit of Rick Nash.
I know Parise won’t sign with the Senators. I know the most offensively electric eligible unrestricted free agent will land elsewhere. I wouldn’t at all be surprised if he winds up as one of Sidney Crosby’s wingers in Pittsburgh. If I were him, I’d drool at that opportunity, too. Especially if I was an American, like Parise.
But I’d also listen to what the Senators have to say, if they choose to talk to him at all.
I’d certainly be intrigued by the prospect of having one of, if not the best, playmakers in the NHL as my centre. By playing on a line with Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek. And knowing it would be one of the most dangerous units in the league.
Then, Parise-Crosby-Joe Blow would be, too. And as beautiful as Ottawa, Pittsburgh’s a great city as well.
But I’d certainly listen to what Bryan Murray has to say — if the persuasive Senators GM even plans to call.
And call, he should.
As it currently stands, the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement requires teams to have a salary cap hit of at least $54.2 million. It may change under the new CBA, but right now, it is what it is.
According to CapGeek.com, the Senators are not only almost $26.5 from the ceiling, but they are about $10.5 shy of the floor.
They can certainly afford Parise. And with the parity that exists in the NHL, he may put them in serious contention for the Stanley Cup.
Signing Parise may not be part of the game plan Murray sold to owner Eugene Melnyk two Februarys ago. The blueprint could really be to develop and stick with young prospects, to run with hockey’s version of Moneyball. Either that, or Murray may be waiting until next July 1, when he can make a pitch to old friend Corey Perry, whom he drafted when he was GM of the Anaheim Ducks in 2003.
Unless they ink extensions, both Perry and Ryan Getzlaf will be available as free agents next summer. You remember those two, Ottawa? They played huge roles when Anaheim knocked off your team — the one coached by Murray — in the 2007 final.
Is a 27-year-old Parise better than a 27-year old Perry? Do you prefer a smooth cognac, or a shot of Jameson Irish Whiskey? Depends on your taste, right?
Perhaps Murray, having narrowly losing out in the bidding for Justin Schultz, is determined to add a defenceman instead. That’s fine. How about Ryan Suter? He can afford him, as well.
“We like our team,” coach Paul MacLean said Saturday. “But we’d also like to make our team better ... we’re always interested in doing that.”
Parise and/or Suter are at the top of the list. After them, the group of desirables for the Senators, if they are to make any kind of splash at all, should include Shane Doan and P.A Parenteau. And after that, there’s a drop-off. Do you want to take a chance on Alexander Semin? No. Ryan Smyth? And make him cry about leaving Edmonton again? Uh-huh. Ray Whitney or Jaromir Jagr? Not really. There’s only one old guy who fits into the Senators’ plans, and that’s Daniel You Know Who.
MacLean will be involved in the decision-making process, to a certain extent.
“Bryan’s really good about gathering information, and getting input,” he said. “I get to say my two cents, but the bottom line is I coach the players they get me, and I’ll be real happy to do that. They know how to get good players.
“Bryan does a real good job of putting the team together. I’m ready to coach them.”
I think the Senators are going to do something big in the next couple of days. I thought that even before talking to MacLean. Even before realizing not only how much they had to spend, but how much they need to spend.
“We’re looking forward to (Sunday) to see what happens,” he said. “Two or three people are the big ones, right? But there are a lot of players who are still there that are good players. And we’re interested in getting good players.”
Let the biggest and best off-season game begin.