There’s a legitimate argument to be made that veteran winger Zach Parise was the most impactful player on the Wild throughout the first-round series against the Vegas Golden Knights. At least when he was on the ice.
The 36-year-old Parise spent the early portion of the postseason as a healthy scratch, only drawing into the lineup after fellow winger Marcus Johansson broke his arm. Though he was rather ineffective in his return to the lineup in Game 4, Parise scored a game-changing goal in Game 5, added an important score in Game 6, and netted a ridiculous goal in Game 7.
That type of production was anecdotal proof of the player Parise still believes he can be. It’s unclear if the Wild feel the same way about the longtime face of the franchise.
As much as Parise proved his worth in the postseason, it’s clear the Wild see him as a depth player at this point in his career. He fell out of coach Dean Evason’s rotation as the regular season progressed and eventually started to sit out as a healthy scratch.
Asked about his motivation level heading into a must-win Game 7 on Friday night at T-Mobile Arena, Parise lamented the “sideshow stuff” that became a story late in the regular season. He clearly feels jilted by the way he was treated down the stretch.
Would he accept a reduced role moving forward?
“That conversation is going to be for a different day,” Parise said. “We will see where it goes. I don’t know. We will have to figure that out in the summer. Just what’s going to happen. I really don’t have an answer on that right now.”
While some think Parise might’ve played his last game in a Wild sweater, it’s worth noting that his 13-year, $98 million contract doesn’t expire until after the 2024-25 season. Does he think he will be in the Twin Cities next season?
“I’ve got four years left in my deal,” Parise said. “That’s, I guess, not really up to me.”