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New Jersey star Zach Parise would be a devil of a Blackhawk

Zach Parise New Jersey Devils fights for positiagainst Jonathan Quick Game 1 2012 Stanley Cup Finals. (Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

Zach Parise of the New Jersey Devils fights for position against Jonathan Quick in Game 1 of the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals. (Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

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Kings lead series 3-1
All games at 7 p.m. on Ch. 5

Game 1: Kings 2, at Devils 1 (OT)

Game 2: Kings 2, at Devils 1 (OT)

Game 3: at Kings 4, Devils 0

Game 4: Devils 3, at Kings 1

Saturday: at Devils

x-Monday: at Kings

x-Wednesday: at Devils

x- if necessary

Updated: July 9, 2012 6:19AM

LOS ANGELES — Devils winger Zach Parise wouldn’t be able to count his scoring chances during the Stanley Cup finals on his two hands if he wanted to.

Of all the Devils, Parise has felt the sting of running into the wall that is Kings goalie Jonathan Quick the most.

Parise has no points in the finals. He and fellow star Ilya Kovalchuk’s minimal production have stood out in a series that would be much different for the Devils, who are in an unenviable 3-1 hole after winning Game 4, if their two best threats had converted. All they have is an empty-net goal between them.

“We do need to score; that’s our job and that’s our responsibility,” Parise said, repeating a common refrain.

But the lack of production doesn’t negate the type of player Parise is, nor will it affect New Jersey’s desire to re-sign him or
numerous teams to pursue him.

Parise is one of two prized unrestricted free agents this summer, the other being Predators defenseman Ryan Suter.

If Suter is considered No. 1, then Parise is 1A.

A lot of teams could use a left wing of Parise’s caliber — the Blackhawks included.

Are the Hawks interested in having a player such as Parise?

What team wouldn’t want a 27-year-old who has five 30-goal seasons, blazing speed, a wicked shot, playoff experience, the willingness to crash nets, forecheck and hit, the ability to play on special teams and either wing and wears a “C” on his sweater?

If the Devils who have financial issues can’t re-sign Parise, it’s believed they will trade his rights before free agency begins July 1.

If that’s the case, it would take a proactive general manager such as Stan Bowman to land him as other teams — notably the Detroit Red Wings — have the cap space to sign him.

Bowman is undoubtedly feeling pressure from above to right his wrongs after consecutive first-round exits. Bowman raised the possibility of adding “substantial players from other teams” after the GM meetings.

If the salary cap rises to $70.3 million as reported, the Hawks have flexibility. Parise, who earned $6 million this season, could become the highest-paid Hawk, but that shouldn’t be a concern.

They also shouldn’t fret about adding a captain. Mike Richards, the Flyers’ former captain, has fit in behind Kings’ captain Dustin Brown and his arrival is a big reason for their balance and success.

The Kings’ run is another example of how having legitimate centers is crucial. Opponents in the playoffs have had trouble matching the Kings with Anze Kopitar and Richards centering the top two lines and Jarret Stoll fulfilling a third-line role.

The Hawks continue to downplay the need for a second-line center. Bowman sees Patrick Kane doing it. Coach Joel Quenneville hopes Marcus Kruger can grow into it.

Bowman sounds as if he’ll be active around the draft on June 22. Last year, he traded defenseman Brian Campbell and winger Troy Brouwer on Day 1 of the draft.

“We’ll listen to what’s out there and if we can find a way to make our team better we’re going to do it,” Bowman said.

Parise’s uncertain future is yet to become a big story during the finals. Even when the Devils were on the verge of being swept, it remained only a side topic.

There is time for that.

Right now, it’s that Parise gave the Devils an injury scare in Game 4, Kovalchuk continues to play through an apparent injury and the series is headed back to New Jersey.

“I’m not thinking about the end right now,” Parise said recently. “Hopefully, we have a few more games in us.”

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