J.P. Parise was 34 when the Minnesota North Stars, believing their former All-Star’s best days were behind him, traded him to the Islanders in 1975. But Hall of Famer Denis Potvin can vouch for how valuable Parise was to the team over parts of the four seasons he played on Long Island.
Potvin predicts a similar scenario for his late teammate’s 37-year-old son, Zach, bought out of the final four seasons of his 13-year, $98 million deal with the Minnesota Wild on July 13 and reportedly headed to the Islanders.
Parise confirmed to The Athletic in Minnesota on Wednesday that he agreed to a deal with the Islanders earlier this offseason. Islanders president and general manager Lou Lamoriello has yet to file that contract with the NHL, according to the report.
The Islanders did announce a flurry of deals on Wednesday as unrestricted free agents Kyle Palmieri and Casey Cizikas as well as restricted free agents Anthony Beauvillier and goalie Ilya Sorokin all officially agreed to new contracts.
In addition to Parise, UFA Travis Zajac is also expected to re-sign a modest, short-term deal.
Lamoriello, then the Devils’ boss, selected Parise 17th overall in 2003, and he played seven seasons in New Jersey before going home to Minnesota.
"I don’t exactly know what happened the last couple of years in Minny," Potvin said. "I’m sure that it had more to do with injuries and all that. The kid was signed to an incredible contract. If he’s got his father’s genes, he’s going to feel like, ‘I need to get back to what I was and show these Islanders fans that I still have something to give.’ That’s what I expect from him. It’ll be fun."
Parise has 393 goals and 417 assists in 1,060 career regular-season games, setting career highs with 45 goals and 49 assists for the Devils in 2008-09. He had seven goals and 11 assists in 45 games last season as the NHL played a 56-game schedule.
Parise likely would slot in as a bottom-six forward with the Islanders.
"A lot of people may have thought, ‘Well, why get Parise? Things haven’t gone so well,’" Potvin said. "I’m sure Lou is thinking that a guy like Parise will rejuvenate his game because he’s playing for his old boss. Lou knows those guys better than anybody. And you’re not making deals for guys who you have to sign to five-year contracts. The world is a lot different now in hockey. Fifty percent of the teams change almost annually."
Zach Parise would bring a veteran presence to an experienced Islanders group. J.P. Parise joined an inexperienced Islanders team on the cusp of becoming a perennial playoff contender, finally yielding four straight Stanley Cups from 1980-83.
"His father was such a great, great guy," Potvin said. "I spoke to him several days before he passed [in 2015]. Not a lot of veterans in the NHL, other than guys like Eddie Westfall and J.P. and Jude Drouin, those kind of guys, would share everything. They weren’t protecting themselves fearing that you were going to take their job. He was a tremendous guy. I think all of those stories are going to come out. I think Zach, his presence on Long Island, is going to bring out a lot of stories. Zach’s a wonderful kid, too."