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Parise still undecided about Pens, other offers

| Tuesday, July 3, 2012, 2:30 p.m.
The Devils' Zach Parise (9) is expected to make a decision regarding his free agency Thursday. The Penguins are one of several teams in the chase to land the star. Tribune-Review file

Zach Parise still can't make up his mind.

The coveted free agent has had three days to accept one of the many lucrative offers he has received but still is unsure of his NHL future.

As a result, many NHL teams — including the Penguins — remain frozen from making other transactions because they have cleared salary cap space to acquire Parise.

Parise, who is line to become one of the NHL's highest-paid players, is considering offers from the Penguins, New Jersey Devils, Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks. Those teams are believed to be the four finalists for the 27-year-old's services.

Parise was briefly intercepted at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport by the Minneapolis Star Tribune and admitted that the process of locating a team has been daunting.

“So much more than money,” Parise said. “That plays a very small part in it.”

It is believed that Minnesota has offered him the wealthiest deal. Parise is a native of Minnesota and lives there during the summer.

He is currently in Minnesota while considering his options with his fiancée.

Penguins general manager Ray Shero declined to comment for the third consecutive day since the free-agent signing period began July 1. Shero will not address reporters until Parise makes his decision.

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby — a close friend of Parise's — and defenseman Paul Martin, who played with Parise in New Jersey, have both reached out to him numerous times in an attempt to lure him to Pittsburgh.

There is no indication from the Penguins that they are growing frustrated with Parise's indecision. This is a player they badly covet, and multiple sources within the organization still feel confident that the team's offer to Parise will land the star left wing.

Although Parise is unquestionably the Penguins' top priority this summer, Shero also has interest in free agent defenseman Ryan Suter. It appears quite unlikely that Suter will return to Nashville, though the Predators have made an offer in an attempt to retain him.

Suter spent most of Tuesday with members of the Minnesota front office. The Wild possess $15.6 million of space under the salary cap, which has compelled them to pursue Parise and Sutter.

Given that the teams interested in Parise are also the teams interested in Suter, the defenseman is planning on waiting until Parise inks his deal. After a number of teams have struck out on Parise, they are likely to up their offer for Suter.

Day 3 of free agency was again eerily quiet as teams are waiting for Parise and Suter — the two biggest dominos — to fall.

The only team Parise has ever played for — the Devils — still remain in the running, he said.

Still, many in the Penguins' organization remain quietly confident that they will land Parise.

Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jyohe@tribweb.com or 412-664-9161.

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