The New York Islanders have a chance to rectify one of former general manager Mike Milbury’s worst draft decisions during his reign of terror. Current general manager Garth Snow should trade for Zach Parise.
The 2003 NHL draft is arguably the deepest in history. All 30 first-round selections have played in the NHL. Joe Pavelski was drafted in the seventh round by the San Jose Sharks. Dustin Byfuglien was drafted in the eight round by the Chicago Blackhawks. Even the ninth round brought us two all-star goaltenders (Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliot). Yet Mike Milbury found a way screw it up.
The Islanders held the 15th pick in the first round. Names such as Marc-Andre Fleury, Eric Staal, Ryan Suter, Dion Phaneuf and Brent Seabrook having gone in the first 14 picks, Islanders fans were salivating at the fact that J.P. Parise’s son Zach was still on the board. Before Bobby Nystrom became a folk hero for scoring the Stanley Cup-winning goal in game six of the 1980 Stanley Cup Final, there was J.P. Parise. The Islanders were down 3-0 to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round of the 1975 playoffs. Parise’s overtime goal in Game Seven gave the Isles their first playoff series win in franchise history and they became the first team since the 1941-42 season to come back from down 3-0 to win a 7-game series. Parise had eight goals and eight assists in those playoffs. His son Zach had a stellar freshman season at the University of North Dakota scoring 26 goals and 35 assists in 39 games. He was nominated for the Hobey Baker Award. One thing stacked against him was his size (5’11”, 196 lbs) but he overcame it with his tenacity to drive the net and his work ethic. The Isles brass walk up to the podium and head amateur scout Tony Feltrin introduces Ontario scout Doug Gibson to make the selection. They did selection the son of a former NHL player, just not the one fans wanted.
The Isles selected Robert Nilsson, whose father is three-time 40 goal-scorer Kent Nilsson. Size was not the determining factor here. Nilsson was also 5’11”. He played one season with the Islanders, scoring 6 goals and 14 assists in 53 games before being traded along with 2005 first-round pick Ryan O’Marra to the Edmonton Oilers for Ryan Smyth at the 2007 trade deadline. Nilsson played four seasons with Edmonton before heading to Europe. In 252 NHL games, he scored 37 goals.
The New Jersey Devils selected Parise with the 17th pick. He returned to North Dakota for his sophomore season. After scoring 55 points in 37 games Parise signed with the Devils. He eclipsed Nilsson’s NHL goal total in a season twice, 45 in 2008-09 and 38 in 2009-10. After spending seven seasons with the Devils, Parise signed a 13-year contract worth $98 million dollars with the Minnesota Wild. Parise grew up in Minneapolis and his dad once captained the Minnesota North Stars. Now it is time for him to follow in his father’s footsteps once again.
Why Would The Wild Trade Him?
Minnesota is currently sixth in the Central Division. They have struggled of late going 1-7-2 in their last ten games. Though just two points out of the second wild card spot in the Western Conference. The Wild are not competing with the likes of the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings. They are up against the salary cap and have a couple of restricted free agents (Mathew Dumba and Darcy Kuemper) who need to be re-signed. Why keep a 31-year-old player who takes up a sizable portion ($7,538,462 cap hit through the 2024-25 season). Parise will be 40 when the contract ends.
Parise would immediately give the Islanders something they have been lacking since they traded Parise’s teammate Thomas Vanek two years ago, a legitimate first-line winger to compliment captain John Tavares. The team has the cap space and the pieces to make this happen. Snow has replenished the forward prospect pool with four first-round picks in the last two seasons. Defenseman Travis Hamonic requested a trade prior to the start of the season for family reasons. Minneapolis is not too far from Manitoba, where Hamonic is from. Hamonic and 2014 fifth overall pick Michael Dal Colle would be a good starting point. I know Snow wants to get a defenseman in return for Hamonic. He could move Kyle Okposo, who will be an unrestricted free agent following the season and is unlikely to re-sign for a defenseman. Anaheim needs help upfront and a Okposo for Sami Vatanen deal would be beneficial for both teams. This of course is all contingent upon Parise waiving his no-move clause. This entire scenario is extremely unlikely but you cannot fault a guy for thinking outside the box.
Noel Fogelman is a 5-time Emmy Winner and started his career working on the Buffalo Sabres Pre and postgame shows for the Empire Sports Network. He then went to Bristol, CT to work at ESPN on NHL2Night and its coverage of the Stanley Cup. Follow me on Twiter @thefirstnoel19