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Long Time Coming: Islanders, Zach Parise agree to terms on free agent contract

An acquisition 18 years in the making.

New York Islanders v Minnesota Wild
Just a coupla Minnesota guys

You know who he is. Zach Parise has been around a long, long time. Between long stints with the Devils and Wild, Parise has scored 810 points on 393 goals and 417 assists, and has scored 30 goals in a season six times. The winger has 80 points in 103 playoff games, too, and he captained New Jersey to the Stanley Cup Final in 2012. He and good friend Ryan Suter signed massive free agent contracts with Minnesota right after that. Both were bought out this summer by GM Bill Guerin.

You know who his dad is. J.P. Parise was one of the Islanders’ first fan favorites and remains a legend decades after his short time on Long Island ended thanks to the first massive playoff goal in franchise history. Acquired by the Islanders from the Minnesota North Stars in 1975, he scored the series winning goal 11 seconds into overtime against the Rangers in Game 3 of the Isles’ first ever playoff series. The winger’s consistency and scoring punch would be instrumental in the Islanders’ quick rise from expansion dumpster fire to contender, but he was traded to Cleveland in 1978, just before their four Cup dynasty began. J.P. Parise passed away in 2015.

The Islanders finally announced today what’s been known for a while; that Zach is coming to J.P.’s old team to both add a little scoring punch to a roster looking to get over the hump and to correct a mistake that never should have happened in the first place.

I can’t believe I’m about to type these words out but, listen to Pierre McGuire talk about Parise at the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, when he was still on the board at the time the Islanders were to make their first round selection:

No, the Islanders didn’t take Parise in that draft, opting to take Swedish center Robert Nilsson, who would be traded to Edmonton a few years later in exchange for Ryan Smyth.

How would things have been different if Mike Milbury’s scouts had simply decided to take the guy whose dad played for their team years earlier and offered the kind of skillset and determination guys like Pierre McGuire rant about all the time? Who knows. Maybe it wouldn’t have worked out anyway. Maybe Parise would have left as a free agent eventually anyway, as he did with the Devils, who drafted him two picks later. Maybe they would have built a quality team around him, and a lot of the hard times they had in subsequent years wouldn’t have happened. Or maybe not.

As of this writing, the details of the contract are unknown. Even the estimable CapFriendly has no info, but surely their agents as well as every hockey insider on Earth are trying to suss it out. We’ll update when we can.

What matters now is that at the age of 37, Zach Parise is signing with the Islanders because they offer him a chance to play on a Stanley Cup contender. He’s slower, his scoring punch has lessened and he was a healthy scratch in his final season in Minnesota as the Wild transitioned to a new era.

But J.P. Parise’s son is now an Islander. The man who drafted him in New Jersey, Lou Lamoriello, is also the guy who brought him to the Islanders. It took 18 years, but the link is complete.

“He talked about it a lot,” Parise said. “That was a big part of his career, that time out there. For the Islanders, knocking off the Rangers at that time, the success they ended up having after that. For a while, he had the quickest OT goal in the playoffs and liked to brag about that. That was a proud moment for him being a part of that team.”

In the video, Zach says his mom is excited for him to come to the Islanders, too. You and me, both, Mrs. P.