Over the course of the next month, Konopkaesque will review each player who suited up for the Wild this season, with a few exceptions. 1) They had to play at least ten games during the season and/or playoffs (sorry, Brett Bulmer, Carson McMillan and John Curry) and 2) they had to finish the season as part of the organization, which ironically excludes the man for whom this blog is named, among others.
So, without further blathering, here’s today’s subject:
Zach Parise, LW, Age 29
Remaining contract (per capgeek):7.54 million for 10 years (UFA after your third kid graduates from college…or 2025, whatever)
Games: 66 (Regular Season) 13 (Playoffs)
Goals: 29 (Regular Season) 4 (Playoffs)
Assists: 27 (Regular Season) 10 (Playoffs)
+/-: +10 (Regular Season) -3 (Playoffs)
PIM: 30 (Regular Season) 6 (Playoffs)
ATOI: 20:26 (Regular Season) 20:29 (Playoffs)
What Did He Do?: When Zach Parise signed his massive fourth of July contract, the Wild wanted exactly what they got from Parise this season. Specifically speaking, they wanted Bloomington’s own to be the leading scorer on a team that made a deep playoff run. That is both the good news and the bad news. The downside is that the team needs Parise to score more during the regular season to justify his massive number (Parise makes nearly the same amount as Sidney Crosby), and in that respect, Parise is overpaid. Asking Parise to suddenly morph into an Art Ross winner is ludicrous. This is a player who has averaged more than a point per game over a full season just twice in his nine-year career. Of course what the Wild were paying for when they gave Parise (and of course, Ryan Suter) mega-millions was leadership and identity, and they now have both. If the Wild are able to win even one Stanley Cup with their current core group of players, the payout is worth every penny. If the Wild can’t reach those heights, and the amount of money they have sunk into two players prevents them from adding another scorer capable of lifting their offense above 24th in the league (the same amount as Edmonton, however higher than the eventual champion Kings, for what that is worth) then Craig Leipold and Chuck Fletcher will always be remembered for over-paying. This is the paradox of Parise (Suter is another matter, and will be covered later).
Of course Parise missed nineteen games through injury, only the second time in his career he missed more than one in a season. Extrapolated over 82 games, at pace, his stat line suddenly reads 38 goals and 35 assists, far and away leading the team and inching closer to a total that justifies the price. In the playoffs, he was the only Wild player to crack double figures, and the four goals he scored were certainly impactful. His eventual game-winning deflection in game six against Colorado elicited the loudest noise I’ve ever heard in the Xcel Energy Center.
What to Expect if You’re Expecting: Instead of sparing you a paragraph filled with information you already know, we’ll just say this. Parise is the steady, constant center of the Wild offensive attack. It is what fills in around him which will determine how far future versions of this group can go.
Trade Prospects?: Fletcher is more likely to trade himself. End of story.
Season Highlight: The aforementioned game six winner. Part of a four point game for Parise when the Wild needed him most: