NEWARK, NJ Zach Parise will talk about the butterflies in the belly on the eve of his Stanley Cup Finals debut.
Parise will fill notebooks with his thoughts on the explosiveness of the Los Angeles Kings attack, and he'll speak into the microphone when asked how much of a problem Jon Quick poses between the pipes. Parise would even recount stories when Quick and Parise both played for Team USA in the Olympics two years ago.
But dont ask the New Jersey Devils captain about his impending free agency after the season is over for better or for worse. Parise was asked if getting to the Cup Finals with the Devils had altered his free agency views with July 1 little more than a month away, and drew the proverbial line in the sand.
I wont be answering any questions about free agency, said Parise.
Thats probably the best course of action for the 27-year-old Parise, who will be making a boatload of money in the offseason and is actively working to avoid making it a distraction during the Cup Finals. After all Parise has scored 30-plus goals in each of his last five healthy seasons, has been a respected, hard-nosed leader of the Devils in good and bad times, and has put up 14 points in 18 games while leading his team to the Cup Finals.
Parise is in line for a significant raise in the offseason, and Los Angeles Kings defensemen Drew Doughty paid him the ultimate compliment while thinking about ways to shut him down. Parise can skate, pass, shoot and make plays with the best of them, but like Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh he also travels without trepidation into the dirty areas for rebounds, tips, and he wreaks havoc in front of the net.
Parise in my eyes is almost exactly the same player that Sid is, said Doughty. He has the same tendencies. Hes low to the ground, hes explosive, he works his bag off and hes going to work his bag off.
We have to make sure were working just as hard if were going to neutralize him in the series.
The willingness to go to the unpleasant areas on the ice looking to create offense is exactly what separates Sid the Kid from many other superstars. Its also the reason Parise will be in such high demand once the Cup Finals have concluded. Any team looking for scoring, grit and leadership will be knocking down his door provided they can make room for a 7 million per year contract.
Just dont ask Parise about free agency over the next two weeks. He and his agent will be overjoyed to discuss things once the Cup Finals have been decided, but until then its about finishing off the playoffs.