Zach Parise sounded emphatic Wednesday at the Devils' breakup day, saying "no way" to a question about possibly signing with the rival Rangers as a free agent if he gets to July 1 unsigned.
"Don't try to get a headline out of it," Parise told reporters at the Prudential Center. The 27-year-old Devils captain also said he loves his team and would like to stay.
That may depend on the Devils resolving their financial problems, which may not happen in time for team president Lou Lamoriello to offer Parise the sort of front-loaded contract that the player may be seeking.
If Parise is true to his word and won't consider the Rangers, whom the Devils eliminated in six games in the Eastern Conference finals, the Rangers have enough chips stockpiled in their system to make a run at several other forwards in a trade.
Rangers general manager Glen Sather and his staff are meeting in Las Vegas starting Thursday to evaluate the market as the team heads into next week's draft and then free agency hoping to add some scoring up front and some more talent on defense.
Blue Jackets right wing Rick Nash nearly became a Ranger at the trade deadline, but Sather wouldn't agree to Columbus GM Scott Howson's steep demands. The Rangers are believed to be willing to part with their first-round pick, No. 28 overall, as well as forward Brandon Dubinsky as the base of any package. Defenseman Michael Del Zotto, a restricted free agent, may also be available, though rookie sensation Chris Kreider is most definitely unavailable after his big playoff debut.
Parise was a hoped-for target in free agency, perhaps the only major free agent the Rangers would have been looking to add. If Parise truly does not want to cross the river, the Rangers are far from out of options.