Zach Parise agreed to a contract with the New York Islanders on Friday. Terms were not disclosed.
The 37-year-old forward had the remaining four seasons of his 13-year, $98 million contract ($7.54 million average annual value) bought out by the Minnesota Wild on July 13, making him an unrestricted free agent.
“A lot of mixed emotions after [getting bought out] but still some sense of relief at the same time,” Parise said. “When something like that does happen, yeah, of course you want to get back to work right away and be ready for the following season. I know personally that I’ve still got a lot of good hockey left in me, but they didn’t see it like that. To me it made it a unique but pretty exciting summer with just a little extra motivation to, I don’t know if it’s prove them wrong, but just to know for myself.”
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Parise mentioned fit with the style of play, familiarity with the structure and culture, and the opportunity to make an impact on his father’s former team as reasons for joining the Islanders. They reached the Eastern Conference Final in 2020 and the Stanley Cup Semifinals last season.
“Just from watching them, watching the past few years in the playoffs, it just seemed really familiar to me with that style of hockey, the way we played in New Jersey,” Parise said. “Of course, I always enjoyed my time and played well there. To me in my mind it felt like it would be a good place for me.”
Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello was GM of the New Jersey Devils when Parise played for them from 2005-12. The two remained in touch throughout Parise’s nine seasons with the Wild after the forward left New Jersey to sign with Minnesota on July 4, 2012.
Parise said there were three teams he was interested in after his contract was bought out and that his relationship with Lamoriello, along with his understanding of how his teams operate, made the Islanders right for him.
“You always feel like there’s a certain way that Lou’s teams play, the way they compete, the way top to bottom they always play the game the right way,” Parise said.
“The competitiveness that they have up and down the lineup, I feel that’s always been one of my traits, one of my best assets is that competitiveness. I think that part will mesh really well.”
Parise is also motivated to match his father’s legacy with New York. J.P. Parise played for the Islanders for four seasons from 1974-78, and his overtime goal against the New York Rangers in Game 3 of the best-of-3 Preliminary Round in 1975 gave the Islanders a 4-3 win and their first Stanley Cup Playoff series victory.
J.P. Parise, who died in 2015, scored 171 points (73 goals, 98 assists) in 240 regular-season games with the Islanders and 34 points (16 goals, 18 assists) in 41 playoff games.
“For the longest time in my basement we had some pictures of him scoring that goal and him shaking hands after the game,” Parise said. “I’ve always said he loved his time out there and was able to make an impact. So I’m looking forward to doing the same type of thing.”
Parise said he also looks at his opportunity with the Islanders as a chance to prove he can still be an effective, productive player. He was a healthy scratch in three of the Wild’s final four regular-season games and their first three playoff games last season before scoring three points (two goals, one assist) in the final four games of a seven-game loss to the Vegas Golden Knights in the best-of-7 Stanley Cup First Round.
Parise scored 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists) in 45 games last season after scoring 46 points (25 goals, 21 assists) in 69 games in 2019-20 and 61 points (28 goals, 33 assists) in 74 games in 2018-19.
He scored 400 points (199 goals, 201 assists) in 558 regular-season games for Minnesota. Parise ranks third in Wild history in goals and points, seventh in games played and eighth in assists. He is their postseason leader with 37 points (16 goals, 21 assists) in 44 games.
“I view myself being able to contribute on the offense, but more importantly just being a piece to the puzzle and fitting in with that team,” Parise said. “They’ve already established themselves as one of the best teams in the League, making it to the conference finals the last couple of years. You just want to be a piece to the puzzle. I know my age, but I still know that I can still play the game and score goals and be a part of some offense.”
Selected by New Jersey in the first round (No. 17) of the 2003 NHL Draft, Parise has scored 810 points (393 goals, 417 assists) in 1,060 regular-season games during 16 seasons with the Devils and Wild, and 80 points (37 goals, 43 assists) in 105 playoff games.