Islanders’ Parise Has Opportunity for Success in Reduced Roster Role

The New York Islanders had the chance to draft Zach Parise back in the 2003 Draft at 15th overall. Instead, the organization drafted Robert Nilsson. Two picks later, then-New Jersey Devils general manager (GM) Lou Lamoriello selected Parise 17th overall. Nilsson played 53 games for the Islanders before he was moved for Ryan Smyth to the Edmonton Oilers, among other pieces. Parise went on to have a much more successful career, playing key roles for the Devils and the Minnesota Wild.

Now, 18 years later, Parise follows in his father J.P. Parise’s footsteps, moving from Minnesota to Long Island, while rejoining Lamoriello, the Islanders’ current GM. Parise confirmed to The Athletic’s Michael Russo that he indeed signed a deal with the Islanders earlier this summer, and is headed to Long Island for good later this month. The terms of the contract are still unknown.

Going into his age-37 season, Parise still has plenty to offer on and off the ice, despite what was a down year with the Wild last season. That’s easily explained, considering the makeover the Wild underwent under GM Bill Guerin. Now with the Islanders, Parise will have a reduced role that will help propel his and the team’s success.

Lineup

Parise is already being pegged by many to fill in the third-line, left-wing role next to J.G. Pageau. It makes sense, as the top six is mostly filled out, and he’s not likely to receive, or even compete for, first-line minutes next to Mathew Barzal on the right side.

It’s an instant upgrade, too. Pageau’s left side was mostly filled by Leo Komarov, Michael Dal Colle, Kieffer Bellows, and occasionally Travis Zajac after he was acquired. Now that line looks plenty full with Parise, Pageau, and either Oliver Wahlstrom or Kyle Palmieri rounding out the trio. That combination makes for “much better linemates than Nico Sturm and Nick Bonino on Minnesota’s bottom unit,” according to Joe Pantorno of amNewYork.

Zach Parise, Minnesota Wild
Zach Parise with the Minnesota Wild, Nov. 17, 2018 (Courtesy Canadian Press)

Between 2018-2020, Parise potted 53 goals and there’s no reason to think he can’t at least notch somewhere close to 15-20 goals in a system that likely suits him better under head coach Barry Trotz.

Power Play

Parise is a bit of a power-play specialist, an area in which the Islanders severely lack. He’s potted 120 goals, 245 points on the man advantage in his career, scoring 10 or more power-play goals in a single season six times. Across two seasons between 2018-2020, Parise accrued an expected goals for percentage of 90.5 percent, and a 91.88 high-danger Corsi-for percentage on the power play, per Natural Stat Trick. For perspective, that’s better than Barzal’s percentages in the same span of time.

The six-time 30-goal scorer is a welcomed addition to either of the Islanders’ power-play units (likely the second unit), and should provide a boost with an extra man on the ice.

Playoff Pedigree

Parise has been to the Stanley Cup Playoffs a total of 13 times — seven with the Wild and six with the Devils. Most notable was his run with the Devils in the 2011-12 postseason, where he met the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Final. The Kings beat the Devils in six games to claim hockey’s ultimate prize, but Parise had a fantastic run in 24 games, potting eight goals (tied for the playoff lead that year) and 15 points.

You don’t make the playoffs 13 times without knowing how to get there. Parise comes to an Islanders team that has done a pretty good job of getting there themselves the past three seasons. He adds an extra bit of playoff pedigree for the Islanders in his new role, bringing 105 games of playoff experience.

Veteran Presence

The Islanders are always looking for the right guy rather than the best guy, and Parise fits the bill.

“A lot of people may have thought, ‘Well, why get Parise? Things haven’t gone so well,’” former Islanders captain Denis Potvin recently said. “I’m sure Lou is thinking that a guy like Parise will rejuvenate his game because he’s playing for his old boss. Lou knows those guys better than anybody. And you’re not making deals for guys who you have to sign to five-year contracts. The world is a lot different now in hockey. Fifty percent of the teams change almost annually.” (from, ‘Denis Potvin sees Zach Parise as a valuable piece for Islanders,’ Newsday, 09/02/21)

A former captain and leader on his two previous teams, Parise brings a similar veteran presence as former Devils teammate, current Isles teammate, Andy Greene, who is paired with Noah Dobson.

Parise has a good chance at playing with the young Wahlstrom on the Islanders’ third line. Having a former 30-goal scorer mentor a future possible 30-goal scorer can only translate well on the ice, and that’s not to say he won’t be a good presence for other young players like Anthony Beauvillier and Barzal who are going into just their age-24 season.

Lamoriello has done an excellent job keeping the core of the Islanders intact while being able to add Parise to the mix. The team still has a Nick Leddy-sized hole to fill on the blue line, but Parise gives the Islanders an incredibly deep forward group, one that is prepared for yet another deep playoff run. His new role with the team should take some of the pressure off him to be the go-to guy, and fans should see a motivated player who is trying to prove he still has a lot to offer after being bought out by his former team.

Want more Islanders content? Check out the Nassaumen Hockey Podcast, hosted by The Hockey Writers authors James Nichols and Jon Zella. Follow on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts!


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