Michael Russo's Sunday Insider: Straight talk on Parise

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 5, 2012 - 1:40 AM

A Wild trade for the Devils star seems unlikely. But the team could still make a run at him if he becomes a free agent.


There's a strong chance that New Jersey doesn't trade star forward Zach Parise.

Photo: Julio Cortez, Associated Press

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Maybe I'm partially to blame for creating the mass Zach Parise hysteria going on in the Twin Cities right now because for two years, maybe three, I've identified this upcoming summer as the year the Wild would (and should) pursue the star forward if he becomes a free agent.

But lately, because the trade deadline is Feb. 27, fans are salivating over arguably the best American, let alone Minnesotan, out there.

Everywhere I turn, it's Parise this, Parise that. My e-mail basket. My Twitter account. My radio interviews. The Lund's salad bar.

"You know he bought a house in Orono?"

"My girlfriend is friends with his second cousin and he says Zach wants to come home."

"Did you hear him on KFAN the other day? He told Paul Allen ..."

I'm not one to lecture, but folks, step into a sauna, let out your inner Finn and relax. If Parise gets to July 1, one assumes Chuck Fletcher will be beating down his door like 20 other general managers.

But if you're holding your breath for the trade that puts Parise in a Wild sweater, you're probably going to turn blue.

First of all, there's a tremendous chance the New Jersey Devils don't trade him. They're a pretty good team. You look at what they've done the past two months, they're as good as anybody in the East maybe with the exception of Boston.

Plus, my gut says Lou Lamoriello is in the final days of his incredible run as New Jersey's GM. To be blunt, I don't think he's too interested in building for the future, so if that means losing Parise for nothing as a free agent rather than adding a boatload of assets, so be it.

He's done it before with Scott Niedermayer and Paul Martin.

Second, I can't see Fletcher blowing up the stable of prospects he and his staff have worked so hard to build to acquire anybody.

Parise wants to win. If he indeed becomes a free agent, one of the Wild's chief selling points in trying to persuade him to sign long-term here rather than with Detroit or L.A. or San Jose or Toronto or somebody else will be what the Wild believes is its bright future because of all those upper-echelon kids.

If the Wild dished away a large piece of that pie, do you really believe that returning home to Minnesota will be enough to make Parise commit a large chunk of his career to playing here?

I mean, I know Minnesota's the greatest place on Earth and all, but ...

So, ... be more patient, hope he becomes a free agent and if he does, on July 1, you can sit on pins and needles and pray the Wild's sales pitch is better than half the league's.

In the meantime, we'll see if Fletcher can accomplish something before Feb. 27.

Again, he's not about to trade away guys like Mikael Granlund, Jonas Brodin, Johan Larsson and Charlie Coyle. The objective has always been to build a team that can contend annually, and he won't deviate from that to get eighth place.

Now, that doesn't mean all the prospects are untouchable -- hence, the Casey Wellman-for-Erik Christensen deal. That doesn't mean he won't trade picks, especially since he always seems to find a way to juggle and get them back. And that doesn't mean he wouldn't deal some of his free-agents-to-be.

But look, he wouldn't trade for Jeff Carter in-season, so douse that fire with all your friends. The Wild likes Carolina's Tuomo Ruutu, but not for the current asking price. If it wanted Buffalo's Brad Boyes, it could have traded for him last year. Word is Derek Roy's shoulder (and contract) is a concern and Drew Stafford may be too streaky for his ticket.

Believe me, the Wild wants to make the playoffs. The Wild would love another top-six forward or puck-moving defenseman. The problem is half the league is looking for the same thing.

It's a pretty cruel game of musical chairs right now, and there's not enough chairs to go around.

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