When the 38-year-old forward Zach Parise signed with the New York Islanders, he was expected to be a complementary bottom-six winger who can provide some offense and a veteran presence. Parise has been so much more valuable to the organization. He has 21 goals on the season, tied for third on the team. Also, he is a workhorse, as he never takes a shift off and is always the first one in on the forecheck. He is like an energizer bunny that just doesn’t quit. The Islanders sit in the top wild-card spot with 87 points and four games left in the regular season. Parise is a major reason for where the Islanders are in the standings.
The team has suffered through a variety of injuries throughout the year, including their best player Mathew Barzal. Parise has been asked to do more with the team, including spending more time on the penalty kill and time on the power play. Parise’s first year with the Islanders wasn’t as successful though. He struggled to find his scoring touch and didn’t get his first goal as an Islander until Dec. 11 last year against his former team, the New Jersey Devils. Parise had a strong second half of the season, finishing with 15 goals in 82 games. This year, things have certainly gone in a different direction and the Islanders wouldn’t be in the playoff hunt without him.
Following His Father’s Footsteps
Parise spent nine seasons with the Minnesota Wild after signing a 13-year deal with the team in the summer of 2012. Parise was a mainstay for the organization for a long time, but after a struggling last season, the Wild wanted to change the direction, and Parise needed a fresh start. That is where his old friend and current Islanders general manager (GM) Lou Lamoriello came in. Parise linked up with his old GM and decided to join the team where his father, J.P. Parise, started his career. It was almost a perfect situation where he could prove all the doubters from the prior year wrong and follow in his father’s footsteps.
“It’s great,” Parise said. “To see him play, not only with the Islanders, but seeing those Team Canada highlights [in the 1972 Summit Series], it makes you proud. He had an awesome career in the NHL. Just like any kid, I wanted to follow in his footsteps.” ( from “Islanders’ Zach Parise following dad’s footsteps in the twilight of his career”, NY Post, 3/25/23).
Although his dad was only an Islander for a few seasons, he left a lasting impact on the organization, most notably his memorable goal 11 seconds in overtime to eliminate the New York Rangers from the playoffs in 1975. It was one of the most iconic moments in Islanders’ history and set the stage for the organization to establish themselves. The Islanders hope JP’s son can create some of his own magic come playoff time if they qualify for a spot.
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The Ageless Wonder
When the Wild went on to buy out the contracts of Parise and Ryan Suter, people around the league believed Parise couldn’t keep up with NHL play anymore. He was a healthy scratch the prior season a few times and wasn’t contributing to the team. The now 38-year-old forward is proving everyone wrong this year. He’s been one of the key factors why the Islanders are even in the playoff race, and he isn’t slowing down. Offensively, he is third on the team in goals and has played up and down the lineup in almost every situation. He’s a very versatile player that is reliable as well. He is the only Islanders player that played all 82 games last season. This season, he has played in all 78 games so far. He is extremely dependable, and his veteran presence has fit right into the tight-knit Islanders group.
Not only has Parise been able to contribute offensively to the team, but his work ethic, personality, and high character fit into what Lamoriello is looking for in a player. He comes to work every day with a smile and continues to be one of the hardest-working guys out there every day. Additionally, he continues to gain the trust of head coach Lane Lambert.
“Just his professionalism and the way he takes care of himself and the way he approaches the game is the reason he’s doing it today,” Lambert said. “I can’t say enough about him and can’t give him enough credit for the way he handles himself.” (from, “Islanders’ ageless wonder Zach Parise talks adaptation, future, AMNY, 3/7/23) Parise has maintained a reputation throughout his career for being one of the hardest workers, and he has carried that over to the island.
With just four games remaining in the regular season, the Islanders need every point they can get. They are in the thick of the playoff race and will need major contributions from guys like Parise. It will be exciting to see the forward back in the playoffs if the Islanders qualify. One thing is for sure, if Parise continues playing at this high level, it’s going to be almost impossible for Lamoriello not to bring him back next year when his contract expires.