Wild forward Zach Parise had his exit interview with general manager Bill Guerin and coach Dean Evason on Tuesday morning in downtown St. Paul.

The meeting took place behind closed doors, and while the 36-year-old winger wouldn’t share many details about the conversation, he emphasized to reporters afterward that he wants to be back with the organization next season.

Not that Parise has much of a choice. His whopping 13-year, $98 million contract doesn’t run out until the 2024-25 season. So finding a trade partner seems highly unlikely, and it sounds as if the front office has very little interest in a potential buyout.

That’s fine with Parise. He has every intention of sticking around.

“You never sign a deal and not fully intend on seeing it through,” Parise said. “I’ve always enjoyed playing here. We are invested in the community here. The last thing I want to do is (uproot) my family and move and get out of here. I don’t want to play anywhere else.”

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The only reason Parise’s future is even a question at this point is because of how things transpired late in this season. After watching his playing time slowly decrease, Parise started to sit out as a healthy scratch toward the end of the regular season.

That trend continued into the playoffs as Parise watched as the Wild fell behind 2-1 in the first-round series with the Vegas Golden Knights. In the end, if fellow winger Marcus Johansson hadn’t broken his arm, there’s a chance Parise would not have played at all.

So, when the former University of North Dakota star finally got inserted into the lineup, he looked like someone trying to prove a point. He felt his way through Game 4, had a game-changing goal in Game 5, a key assists in Game 6 and then an incredible between-the-legs goal in Game 7.

You could make a legitimate argument that Parise was among the best players in the Wild lineup once he actually got on the ice.

“I’ve known the whole time that that’s the player I am and can be,” he said. “There was no doubt in my mind that I can play and contribute.”

Minnesota Wild left wing Zach Parise (11) talks with defenseman Carson Soucy (21) in the third period of their March 20, 2021, game against the Colorado Avalanche at Ball Arena. Isaiah J. Downing / USA TODAY Sports
Minnesota Wild left wing Zach Parise (11) talks with defenseman Carson Soucy (21) in the third period of their March 20, 2021, game against the Colorado Avalanche at Ball Arena. Isaiah J. Downing / USA TODAY Sports

Now the question is whether Parise will be doing that with the Wild next season. He’s more than likely going to have to accept a lesser role in order to do that.

It’s clear the Wild made a conscious decision this season that they were a better team often enough without Parise in the lineup. Though he proved them wrong in the playoffs, it’s unclear if that performance alone will be enough for Parise to garner more playing time next season.

Maybe the biggest issue Parise had down the stretch — aside from being a health scratch — was the fact that he wasn’t on the power play. He has made a living in that role throughout his career, and he still believes he can help the team given the opportunity.

“I’m hopeful that it changes,” Parise said. “I feel like we’ve all got assets as players. And, for me, I’ve taken a lot of pride, and I’ve always felt like being around the net, and being a net front guy on the power play, has been my strength. I feel like I’ve been one of the better players in that position in the league. Hopefully next season I’ll get a chance to be back there because I feel like that’s my biggest strength, just being around the net and scoring goals around the net.”

There’s a chance Parise might be able to stomach a lesser role in the future if he still had a chance to contribute on the power play. That will work itself out over the next few months.

In the meantime, Parise is operating under the guise that he will be with the Wild next season. He plans to work hard this offseason and come back for training camp ready to prove himself once again.

“I have no problem coming back in here ready to go,” he said. “That’s where my mentality is right now. You always hope to come back with a clean slate. 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. Then we’ll see what happens.”

It raises the question: What type of role would make Parise happy?

“I’m a pretty low maintenance guy, I think,” he said. “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.”