Minnesota Wild: 5 Reasons Zach Parise Will Shine Next Season
The American-born left-winger signed a gigantic deal with the Wild back on America’s Independence Day and is in great position to live up to the expectations. Starting in October, if there is no lockout, Parise will wear an A on his Minnesota Wild sweater, assisting Mikko Koivu with captaincy duties.
Parise, who has spent his whole professional career on the New Jersey Devils, wanted to return to his hometown in an attempt to bring the Wild their first ever Stanley Cup. Last season, only one year removed from a season ending injury, Parise captained the Devils to their fourth Stanley cup appearance since 2000. He came only within two wins of winning the greatest prize in all sports.
With a new team, and a new coaching staff, Parise will break out and have one of the best years of his career, and here's why.
New Line Mates
On the Devils last year, Parise played on a line with rookie Adam Henrique and superstar Ilya Kovalchuk. His line-mates accounted for 134 points, which is not bad at all, but when he plays for the Wild he will most likely see himself playing with Mikko Koivu.
Despite only playing in 55 games last season Koivu still put up 44 points, and led the Wild in assists with 32. Koivu’s leadership will mesh well with Parise’s leadership, and the two will serve as huge role models for the rest of the team.
The third player on the line can either be Devin Setoguchi or Dany Heatley, both of which are natural snipers. Parise needs a sniper to play with because most of Parise’s goals come from hard work in front of the net. He needs line-mates that can get the puck on net so Parise can battle in front and put in garbage goals.
In the past Parise has had Kovalchuk and Jamie Langenbrunner, and in the upcoming years Heatley or Setoguchi should see their assist totals go way up because of Parise’s hard-work and grit.
He Is No Longer Playing on a Defensive-Minded Team
The Devils have always been a defense-first team, and playing on a new team with a new philosophy will bring out the best of Parise.
Although the Wild have been known to play defensively, they are still not the inventors of the neutral zone trap.
Parise will play better with an offensive system that attacks the puck, rather than playing a sit-and-wait game.
Even with seven years on a defensive oriented team Parise scored 410 points in 502 games, so imagine what he can do when he plays on a team more suitable to his fore-checking skill.
Better Players on Power Play
Parise only recorded 14 power play points last season, mostly because the Devils did not have a powerful shot defensemen.
Parise scores most of his goals by deflections and battles in front of the net and with Ryan Suter now on the point, Parise will be able to score plenty of dirty goals.
After Kovalchuk (who played the point on the Devils power play) the Devils did not have a defensemen that could really blast the puck. Players like Adam Larsson, Andy Greene, Marek Zidlicky and Mark Fayne are not equivalent to players like Danny Heatley, Jared Spurgeon and newly acquired Ryan Suter.
With Parise planted in front of the net and Suter launching bombs, the Wild’s power play should improve drastically from 27th in the NHL.
The Northwest Division Is Not as Good as the Atlantic Division
The Northwest Division is nothing like the Atlantic Division.
Only once has a Northwest Division team won a Stanley Cup, and that was the Colorado Avalanche back in 2001 against Parise’s old team, the Devils. Parise’s old division, the Atlantic Division, has produced five Stanley Cup winning teams since the divisions were established in 1993.
Last season, four Atlantic Division teams made the playoffs and all had more than 100 points, while only one Northwest Division team found themselves in the post-season.
Instead of playing the New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers six times each a year, Parise will play the Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche and Edmonton Oilers.
Put into simpler terms, the Atlantic Division combined for 231 total wins (the most by any division) and the Northwest Division only combined for 196.
Not to mention the Atlantic Division’s plus minus goal total last season was plus-80 and the Northwest Division’s was minus-12.
Stanley Cup Experience
The New Jersey Devils made the Stanley Cup last season, which gives Parise an intangible experience to make him a better player.
The tempo of the playoffs, let alone the Stanley Cup, is much faster than regular season hockey. This means that Parise is able to compete with the best and at the fastest speeds.
He captained the Devils to within two wins of a Stanley Cup, so he is no stranger to high pressure situations.
Parise is one of the hardest-working players in the NHL, and now with Stanley Cup experience he is that much more valuable of a player.
Since he lost in the Stanley Cup Finals he is going to be hungry, so him losing may be even more valuable for the Wild rather than if he had won.