Former New Jersey Devils Star Mulling NHL Return

Former New Jersey Devils star Zach Parise is mulling an NHL return. However, will he find his way back to the Garden State?

Dec 11, 2021; Elmont, New York, USA; New York Islanders left wing Zach Parise (11)
Dec 11, 2021; Elmont, New York, USA; New York Islanders left wing Zach Parise (11) / Tom Horak-USA TODAY Sports

Oh boy. We've been here before. It's been more than a decade since Zach Parise made his decision to leave the New Jersey Devils in his prime to sign with his hometown Minnesota Wild. It led to a lot of hate and a lot of pain for Devils fans. A year after Parise left, Ilya Kovalchuk "retired" to play in Russia and David Clarkson went home to play in Toronto. One season after that, Martin Brodeur signed with the Blues. It was just a snowball turning into an avalanche.

It's taken a lot of time to heal. Have Devils fans healed from everything that happened? It's hard to think they have. Despite that, there has been some rumors that the Devils could be in on their former star. When the Wild bought him out, it sort of made sense to give him a shot. He ended up signing with Lou Lamoriello and the New York Islanders.

He decided to wait it out this season. We all thought he might retire, but we wrote about the possibility of adding Parise this offseason. Now, that possibility is close to resolution. Chris Johnston with The Athletic reports that Zach Parise is ramping up his workouts to prepare for an NHL return. He says some teams are very locked into Parise's progress, including the Islanders. Where the Devils fall there is still a mystery, but realistically, they probably aren't at or near the top of the list.

Johnston's report says Parise is prioritizing a run to the Stanley Cup, one of the main objectives he's never accomplished in his career. While he came closes during his time with the Devils, when he lost in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, the Devils are far from a Cup contender currently. Realistically, they could definitely figure it out and be a scary team in the postseason, but it would take better play from the defense and much better play from goaltending. The risk is just too large.

He would more likely go to the Islanders, who are higher in the standings right now than the Devils. While the Devils do have the luxury of a easier travel schedule (that Western Conference trip is out of the way), but the Islanders mostly have a similar travel schedule. There are other teams who might be looking at Parise to add some bottom-six scoring.

One of those teams might be the New York Rangers. That would be the cherry on top of the "hate" cake for Devils fans. Although, the Rangers said no to Patrick Kane, so one would assume they aren't looking for older scorers who don't bring much more to the table.

For now, we wait for Parise to make a decision. He might be a month or two away, so the Devils could establish themselves more before he chooses his next team. Maybe the Devils decide to add him late if they don't like what's on the trade market. They do need to sign him before the trade deadline for him to play in the playoffs, but we'd imagine that decision would be made by then. For now, we wait.

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