After being spotted in a team practice earlier in the week, the Islanders finally announced the signing of Zach Parise. In July, he was bought out by the Minnesota Wild with four years remaining on a 13-year $98 million contract. Parise was quick to praise his new team.
“They’ve already established themselves as one of the best teams in the league, and you just want to be a piece of that puzzle,” Parise said. “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.”
He is connected to Islanders’ general manager Lou Lamoriello from his tenure as a New Jersey Devil. Lamoriello was the GM in Jersey, where Parise spent his first seven seasons in the league. Parise decided to sign with the Wild in 2012, alongside Ryan Suter in one of the biggest free-agent signings in NHL history.
After nine years in Minnesota, Parise had a tough 2020-21 season, posting just 18 points through 46 games. The Wild seemed like they were done with him, lowering his average time on ice from over 17 minutes in 2019-20 to 14 minutes last season. He is third all-time in franchise goals and points with the Wild, a promising signing for Islanders fans.
Last season was frustrating for Parise, as shown by him getting emotional during an interview with an ABC affiliate out of Minnesota.
“I think without diving too much into it, that was a challenge,” he said about his last season with the Wild. “I didn’t want to waste a day… feeling sorry for myself, cause I just wanted to make sure I was ready for when I did get a chance to play.”
The 37-year-old forward joins a Stanley Cup contender that desperately needed a scorer. Last year, the Islanders ranked 21st in the league in team goals, an obvious hurdle during their playoff run.
The question for him in New York will be, can he replicate the 50-60-point seasons towards the end of his time in Minnesota?
I can honestly answer yes if last year is considered a fluke. An excellent statistical identifier of a goal-scorer regressing is a decrease in shooting percentage. Parise had a 12.2 S% in 2018-19 and a 16.1 S% in 2019-20. His shooting percentage dropped to a 7.8 last season, the lowest of his career, not counting the year he tore his meniscus in 2010-11. Parise’s role on the Islanders will be a shooter, if nothing else, so I bypass his dreadful 2020-21 season.
Finding a spot in the lineup for Parise won’t be easy either. I like the idea of him on the top line with Matt Barzal and Anders Lee. Barzal tends to pass more often than he should, and Lee earns his money by screening a goaltender and looking to tip a shot on goal. Parise benefits from both player’s playstyles. He may also have chemistry with a third-line pairing with J.G. Pageau and Anthony Beauvillier, two players who are great at creating scoring chances but lacked a consistent linemate.
Parise will be instrumental on the Islander’s powerplay. Essentially an exercise in futility last year, the Isles ranked 20th among all NHL teams in powerplay conversions. Parise had 12 goals and 18 total points on the powerplay in 2019-20, the Islanders had only 29 points as a team on the powerplay that season. Parise can make the Islanders powerplay jump ten teams in the rankings.Embed from Getty Images