Zach Parise is expected to have a role with the Minnesota Wild next season, general manager Bill Guerin said Thursday.
The forward said Tuesday he plans on attending training camp even though his future with the Wild is unclear. Parise was a healthy scratch in three of Minnesota’s final four regular-season games and the first three of a seven-game loss to the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup First Round. He scored three points (two goals, one assist) in four games after forward Marcus Johansson broke his arm in Game 3.
“Zach proved that he’s still a guy that can play and he did great for us in the playoffs and yeah, it’s definitely a different role for Zach, but he’s been great all year,” Guerin said. “We’ve talked to him a number of times and he understands. I think all Zach wants to do is have a chance to play each and every night. And like I said, we had a number of conversations with him, and Zach handled this year very professionally, and we’d expect nothing less. … Zach’s still a part of the team and he did a good job for us.”
Guerin said Parise might not be in the top six forwards.
“It’s all about what have you done for me lately, and you know what? Zach put himself in a really good position at the end of the year,” Guerin said. “We’ll never say never (to playing on the first line). You can’t pigeonhole guys. You can’t say, ‘You’re going to be here, and that’s it,’ and not budge. Why would we do that? We’re only going to hurt the team. So you have to be open-minded, and you have to be flexible.”
Coach Dean Evason said Thursday of Parise’s status, “Well, there’s lots of decisions, right? There’s lots of different variables. Like Billy said, it’s not a personal situation. We talk about who and where we want people to play and what positions, and as you guys know, I’ve talked about it all year, we don’t talk about fourth line guys and first line guys, because we don’t know on a given night.”
Parise said he will speak with Guerin and Evason during the offseason. The 36-year-old has four seasons left on a 13-year, $98 million contract ($7.54 million average annual value) he signed with Minnesota on July 4, 2012.
“You never sign a deal and not fully intend on seeing it through,” Parise said. “I understand things change, but from my standpoint, I’ve always enjoyed playing here.
“So no … I don’t want to play anywhere else. … I’ve got the term left on my deal, and I plan on being here in training camp next year. I haven’t been told otherwise. That’s my intention and I don’t want to speculate any other way.”
Parise said he felt he made an impact when he entered the lineup.
“The hardest part is watching your teammates play,” he said. “I think watching them play in the playoffs for those first three games was brutal. You play the game. You start each season so excited about the season, but with the prospect of playoffs and playing in playoffs. When you have to watch your team play, that’s tough. That was hard.
“I’m a pretty low-maintenance guy, I think. Just playing and helping the team win and being a part of the team and contributing. I think that’s all that any player asks for.”
Parise said he plans to use the experience as extra motivation in the offseason. He scored 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists) in 45 games this season, and his 37 points (16 goals, 21 assists) in 44 games are the most for the Wild in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“I have no problem coming back in here ready to go,” Parise said. “That’s where my mentality is right now. You always hope that you come back with a clean slate and spots are up for grabs. I’m very confident that if spots are up for grabs, I’ll be able to grab one of those. That’s what I’m looking forward to, and then we’ll see what happens.”