Updates on Zach Parise, Evgeni Nabokov, Michael Frolik and Chris Campoli.
NJ.COM: Rich Chere reports it appears increasingly likely New Jersey Devils management will take restricted free agent winger Zach Parise to arbitration. Parise is open to signing a multi-year deal but thus far there’s been no contract talks between the two sides. If the Devils file for arbitration it’ll make Parise ineligible to receive an offer sheet from a rival club. Looming over the situation is uncertainty over what the next NHL collective bargaining agreement will contain once the current one expires next year.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils filing for arbitration would be a clever tactic to prevent Parise from receiving an offer sheet. If they’ve yet to agree to a new contract prior to July 1st I would expect GM Lou Lamoriello to do this. It is surprising Lamoriello hasn’t begun contract talks yet with the Parise camp but he does have the luxury of time, and could be merely waiting to confirm next year’s salary cap ceiling before opening talks in earnest. Re-signing Parise however won’t be cheap, as he could be seeking in the ballpark of $6 million per season.
NEWSDAY (via KUKLA’S KORNER): Katie Strang reported the New York Islanders will “toll” the contract of goaltender Evgeni Nabokov toward next season. Nabokov was claimed off waivers at mid-season after signing a one-year contract with the Detroit Red Wings but refused to report to the Islanders.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nabokov brought this upon himself, as he could’ve avoided this mess had he merely agreed to play out the final two-three months of the season with the Isles, as he would’ve become a UFA again this summer. Now, he’ll either have to play an entire season with the Islanders, sit out again in hopes the club will give up and place him on waivers or trade him, try to play overseas again (which he probably won’t be able to do as he’ll remain suspended by the NHL), or perhaps consider retirement. This does create an interesting scenario heading into next season, as the Islanders have the oft-injured Rick DiPietro plus Al Montoya under contract, as well as young Kevin Poulin waiting in the wings. Maybe Nabokov will be considered insurance if DiPietro is unable to start next season, or perhaps management sees Nabokov as a potential bargaing chip.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Brian Hamilton reported restricted free agents Michael Frolik and Chris Campoli are hoping to return with the Chicago Blackhawks next season. The pair were acquired by the Blackhawks in February, and both have played well for the club, particularly in their opening round playoff series against Vancouver. Campoli earned $1.4 million this season while Frolik made $1.275 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: While the Blackhawks will have the cap space to retain them, it could depend on the pair’s salary demands. With around $51 million invested in next season’s payroll, the ‘Hawks also need to re-sign goalie Corey Crawford plus find an affordable backup, and have to re-sign or replace Tomas Kopecky and Troy Brouwer.