Eight seasons. Eight seasons and eight disappointing endings for Zach Parise during his tenure as a member of the Minnesota Wild. Since coming to the team in the offseason of 2012, Parise and the Wild have not made it past the second round of the NHL playoffs.
This postseason was no different. With expanding the playoffs from 16 teams to 24, Parise and the Wild had a chance to make some noise. The thought process being, “why not us?” That lasted all of about two weeks as the Wild and Parise’s disappointment continued. The team fell in the play-in round to the young bucks of Vancouver and Parise struggled to find the back of the net.
After leading the Wild in goals for the second consecutive year by notching 25 during the regular season, Parise followed that performance up with a big fat stinker against the Vancouver Canucks.
The Minnesota veteran finished the four-game series against the Canucks with zero goals and only 10 shots in 4 games. To break that down game by game, Parise, a player who typically averages well over three shots a game, only put up 2.5 shot per game. The final two games of the series Parise combined for only one shot on net. You point to one of the many problems the Wild had and not having the luxury of Parise finding the back of the net truly hindered the Wild down the stretch. When their leader was called upon as the team was struggling to find goals, he didn't answer the bell.
That was a little harsh on the fan favorite Parise, but when you’re paid the salary he gets, you’re expected to come up big in big games, and Parise simply did not.
Now Zach Parise gets a scoring chance and Markstrom makes another big save. Wild headed to the power play. pic.twitter.com/1DpHhqEQqU— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) August 3, 2020
The Minnesota native did however finish the play-in series with three assists in the four games. He had two assists in Game 2, including a nifty shorthanded dish to Luke Kunin and a helper on one of Kevin Fiala’s goals that night. His third assist came in the final game of the series on Joel Eriksson Ek’s first postseason goal of his career.
Nice little move by Zach Parise to set Kunin up. pic.twitter.com/b5hNtPDXuN— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) August 5, 2020
Parise’s career is winding down as he’s on the tail end of his 30s with five years left of his mega 13-year contract he signed during the summer of 2012. Parise has always been known for his competitiveness, and it is understandable to think a player at his age only wants one thing — a Stanley Cup.
It is well known that Parise waived his no-move clause at the trade deadline this season to reunite with former New Jersey Devils and current New York Islanders’ general manager Lou Lamoriello. The deal would have sent Parise too Long Island for a package of Andrew Ladd plus additional assets.
You can take it to the bank that Wild general manager Bill Guerin will revisit the possibility of trading Parise. That being said, Parise still has that no-move clause in his contract, so it is likely the Wild forward will only agree to waive it if the team he is traded to is the perfect fit. The Islanders will likely still be interested in Parise, but the Wild would likely have to take back a bad contract, a la Andrew Ladd. He’s about as useful as a bag of pucks. A very expensive bag of pucks at that, having a $5.5 million cap hit the next three seasons. Parise still consistently scores 25 goals, whereas Ladd barely makes an AHL squad anymore.
It’s going to be a tricky thing for Guerin to trade Parise and his $7.5-plus million cap hit over the next five seasons this offseason, especially when the NHL salary cap is flat over the next two seasons. But, if Guerin really does want to change the culture and identity of the Wild quickly, trading Zach Parise is a definite route in doing so.
Parise could also look at where the Wild are heading with Guerin at the helm and want to remain a member of this team. Fiala broke out this season and looks to be a star in the making. Kirill Kaprizov, after years of talk and buildup, is finally going to be in a Minnesota Wild sweater. The team still has a top-four defense core that matches up against just about any in the league. Guerin is actively shopping for a top center — something Parise has never had during his time in Minnesota. So, maybe Parise looks at where this franchise is going and believes he can win here in the next five seasons.
If Parise stays in Minnesota next season, he has a good shot at breaking the franchise record of 219 goals set by former fan favorite Marian Gaborik. Parise currently sits at 192 goals to Gaborik's 219. The current Wild winger needs 27 goals to tie the record and 28 goals to break it. If he is on the team and stays healthy, it’s not too far of a stretch to believe the 36-year-old could hit the mark. Two years ago, Parise finished with 28 goals and this season he finished with 25 in a shortened season.
This summer is a pivotal one in Parise’s career. Does he stay in Minnesota and believe the newly shaped team with Fiala and Kaprizov at the helm is trending in the right direction? Or does the veteran want a better shot at a Cup run somewhere else? Because let’s face it, Minnesota is still a few years out and will likely need more time to rebuild on the fly. Which will happen? Your guess is as good as any. Only time and Bill Guerin’s phone will tell.
How would you grade Zach Parise’s performance in the Wild’s play-in series?
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Previously in the Minnesota Wild play-in report card series: