Photo Credit: Perry Nelson – USA TODAY Sports
As the saying goes, one man’s trash is another’s treasure. The way P.A. Parenteau is cycling through teams, I find recycling a more apt fit between the well-traveled winger and the timeless adage though.
Of course, finding a fit for Parenteau hasn’t exactly been a walk in the park. A veteran of eight NHL seasons, the 33-year-old winger is on his seventh team with the New Jersey Devils. As the Devils playoff hopes wane and the trade deadline encroaches, it’s possible they won’t even be his last this season either.
That’s added incentive for Parenteau to play his part in a Devils turnaround. He sounds upbeat about the possibility, even as long odds await New Jersey at every turn.
“I think we went through a phase where things weren’t very good for our team, [but] we’re out of that funk now. We’re playing better as a team.” Parenteau told NHLNumbers.com. “Our [defence] is playing solid right now; our goalies are playing well. Everyone is kind of going, which we didn’t have when we went through that funk. It was really tough that we weren’t going at the same time. Hopefully, we can keep that going and put ourselves back in the mix here.”
According to www.SportClubStats.com, the Devils check out as having a slightly better than one percent chance of making the show. One can hardly expect a former ninth round pick to be dismayed by those odds, though. Especially one whose NHL debut came four years prior to his 27-year-old rookie season.
Parenteau’s battled long odds from the onset. Whether it’s the rare opportunities teams often afford players with his pedigree, or the fight to keep himself from the floor circumstances out of his control have chained him to since.
This season, that meant adapting on the fly to an unanticipated departure from the Long Island to the Garden State after the former placed him on waivers on the eve of this season to the latter’s benefit. In the three that preceded it, it was trades, buyouts and free agency that kept Parenteau from permanent residency.
Expressing a sense of bewilderment, Parenteau struggled to grasp the circumstances surrounding his constantly changing scenery “I don’t know [why I’ve moved so frequently], to be honest with you. I try to bring a lot of offence [and] play my game. Sometimes you get traded; sometimes other teams want you.” Parenteau continued “It’s a little bit of everything. It’s tough to explain or put your finger exactly on it.”
Parenteau doesn’t just try to bring offence though. He follows through annually. A cursory glance at www.stats.hockeyanalysis.com reveals Parenteau is among the league’s 34% most productive forwards by point production per hour at even strength in the last three seasons.
For context, Parenteau’s 1.71 points per hour this season would be the fourth highest mark on the goal-starved Islanders; it’s sixth on the upstart Toronto Maple Leafs, who let Parenteau walk in free agency last summer.
Parenteau goal pic.twitter.com/UT5AX3vy72
— GIF Grand Maester (@myregularface) January 7, 2017
It shouldn’t take the magnifying lens these metrics frame his production in to realize Parenteau’s value — they just help. Since breaking into the league in 2010-11, Parenteau’s produced at a rate equivalent to just north of 20 goals per 82 games. Expanded to include goals and assists, that’s a rate of 52 points. Put another way: first line production.
“I try to bring a little offence — producing is a big part of it,” Parenteau said. “Everyone is always going to look for players who can put the puck in the net and make things happen, so as long as I can do that in my career, I’ll have a job.”
Parenteau leads the Devils in goals and was claimed off waivers on Oct. 11 from Islanders.
— David Alter (@dalter) January 7, 2017
Devils head coach John Hynes is playing Parenteau on the top line, alongside Taylor Hall and Adam Henrique. Though Parenteau didn’t play with the two when they captured the Ontario Hockey League by storm on the Windsor Spitfires, he’s fit in seamlessly alongside them as a Devil.
“Everywhere I’ve been I’ve played with those kinds of players. It’s something I do well. I guess I’m a good compliment to guys like that. I can follow them; I can make plays with them. Obviously, Taylor’s a hell of a player. [Henrique’s] been playing some really good hockey lately.”
Now it’s just a matter of proving there’s value in that beyond just a season. Parenteau’s played for four different teams in these last four years, and admits it’s been a tough sell at home. “Yeah, it’s tough as you get older. Things don’t always work as you wanted. It’s tough for the family too — I have two kids.”
Parenteau admitted he’d like to stay in the area. New York’s where he’s planted his roots, and ideally that’s where he’d stay if it’s up to him. “Obviously, I’d like to stay in New York, but we’ll see where that takes me. We’re playing good hockey right now, so hopefully we stay in the mix, and we’ll see where we go from there.”
Under normal circumstances, Parenteau might not get his wish. Just last summer though Lee Stempniak bucked a similar trend and inked a two-year pact with the Carolina Hurricanes. Stempniak is similarly productive and has been available almost as often. Perhaps as teams ingratiate themselves to a more progressive way of thinking, they’ll find room for players of this ilk.
When a player produces like a top six forward, has underlying results like a top six forward and plays with his team’s top six forwards, there’s a good chance they’re a top six forward. There’s only so many of those in the league, and most of them come at a higher price than the $1.1-million the Devils are paying Parenteau this season.
That’s an investment they, or another team in that area, would be wise to pursue when Parenteau’s available again this summer. If he’s available at all this summer, that is.