PITTSBURGH -- P.A. Parenteau has displayed the good and the not so good about his play in the last few games.
The good, of course, leads with his nose for the puck. He picked up his team-leading 49th assist Sunday against the Panthers, and his ability to make plays and thread passes is a major reason why the 29-year-old could be a coveted free agent if he makes it to July 1.
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The not so good? A couple of bad backchecking plays in each of the last two games.
He failed to tie up Tom Pyatt in front of the Islanders' net in the third period in Tampa on Saturday, and Pyatt deposited the tying goal. Parenteau had a tougher battle with the Panthers' Stephen Weiss in the first period Sunday, and the Islanders were scattered around their own end, but still, it was Parenteau's man, and Weiss chipped the puck past Evgeni Nabokov.
These are examples of the full package any team would get if the Islanders fail to lock up their first-line winger and first-unit power-play member in the next three months. Parenteau would prefer that it not get to that point.
"I've said all along that I want to be here, and nothing's changed," he said. "I love these guys and I want to be here for when we turn it around."
Parenteau said Allan Walsh, his agent, and Isles general manager Garth Snow are likely to begin contract talks this week. Even if they don't begin now, there is time to come to an agreement, especially with the Islanders' two other biggest pending free agents, Frans Nielsen and Nabokov, locked up.
The deals signed by Leafs center Mikhail Grabovski (five years, $27.5 million) and the Hurricanes' Tuomo Ruutu (four years, $19 million) in the last month could have some bearing on what Parenteau believes he's worth, and what he might command on the open market.
Parenteau seemingly will get the $4 million per year he's been shooting for. He has the chance to become the first Islander with 50 assists since Pierre Turgeon in 1993-94, which certainly helps his cause. So does his chemistry with John Tavares and Matt Moulson, among others.
The bad tendencies? Not even his coach thinks the two errors in the last two games occurred because Parenteau is confident he'll get his money.
"He cares. You never have to worry about that with P.A.," Jack Capuano said. "He knows, and his line knows, that they're playing against the best every night and you have to battle every shift."