Zach Parise could be playing his final season with the New Jersey Devils, and if it is, he’ll do so wearing a “C” on his sweater.
The Devils made the 27-year-old Parise the ninth captain in team history Wednesday. Forwards Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrik Elias were named alternates.
The Devils had been without a permanent captain since trading Jamie Langenbrunner to the Dallas Stars last season.
The move comes after Parise signed a one-year contract this offseason. Parise will become an unrestricted free agent after this season, but has said both his agent and the team will work on a long-term extension during the season.
As per the collective-bargaining agreement, Parise can’t sign a new deal until after Jan. 1.
Parise talked about potentially becoming the team’s captain with NHL.com before training camp, saying: “Of course I would like to. I think right now, with our team, we’re in a transition period where for six years, I was always the youngest guy and all of a sudden I’m one of the oldest. We’re at a point where there are a lot of veteran guys who aren’t with us anymore.
“As a player, you try to take a little bit more of a leadership role every year. Whether you have the ‘C’ or not, it’s not as if players are going to look at me different. That’s just now how it is. Players just respect other players whether they got a ‘C’ on their jersey or not.”
The Devils drafted Parise in the first round of the 2003 Entry Draft. In six seasons with New Jersey, the native of Minneapolis has scored at least 30 goals four times with a career-high of 45 in 2008-09. The left wing is coming off a season where he played just 13 games due to a knee injury suffered at the end of October.
Parise is one of five U.S.-born captains in the NHL, joining the Rangers’ Ryan Callahan, the Kings’ Dustin Brown, the Canadiens’ Brian Gionta and the Blues’ David Backes.