Islanders holding out hope that Zach Parise returns as veteran continues mulling over future

Zach Parise Islanders
Feb 6, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Islanders left wing Zach Parise (11) against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports


EAST MEADOW, N.Y. — Ask anyone in the New York Islanders locker room about Zach Parise and the reviews will be glowing. Hence hope is continuously being held out that the 39-year-old veteran winger will return to the team for the second half of the 2023-24 season.

“Everyone will probably tell you that this is a guy they’d love to have back and that they miss, in a sense,” center Brock Nelson told amNewYork on Tuesday. “Just to have him around, he’s always a happy-go-lucky guy, has a lot of energy and the same can be said about him playing.”

Parise is reportedly ramping up his training to return for his 19th NHL season with multiple contending teams monitoring his status, per Chris Johnston of The Athletic. He stepped away from the game following a 2022-23 season in which he scored 21 goals to be with his family in Minnesota and mull his future.

The Islanders — the team Parise spent the past two seasons with after nine with the New Jersey Devils and seven with the Minnesota Wild — have been upfront about their desire to bring him back. Team president and general manager Lou Lamoriello said “the door is always open,” for the winger at the start of training camp when he disclosed that Parise would be stepping away.

Zach Parise Islanders
Mar 21, 2023; Elmont, New York, USA; New York Islanders left wing Zach Parise (11) celebrates his goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the second period at UBS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

New York has plugged its lineup well even without Parise, though it took some shuffling around to finally find the right formula. Parise’s normal spot on the third line next to Jean-Gabriel Pageau has been taken over by Simon Holmstrom, who has taken a major step in his development while becoming a scoring stalwart on the penalty kill. Julien Gauthier has had an extended run on the right side of that line in recent weeks.

But the concept of bringing Parise back elicits hope of a reunion in the Islanders’ locker room.

“Of course [I’d love to see him back],” star winger Mathew Barzal told amNewYork. “Anytime you bring a guy with his knowledge and his maturity and his work ethic [in], he always brings a good feeling to the locker room.”

Both Barzal and Nelson have periodically checked in on Parise while he’s been away, though Nelson admitted that his fellow Minnesotan and pickleball connoisseur “hasn’t really mentioned any sort of thing coming up,” referencing an announcement or a decision.

“Me and Zach have a great relationship,” Barzal added. “We’re a bit similar in the sense that we both love the game and keep track of what’s going on in the league and just sports in general. I think he’s got a high dedication level to the game, so we bonded over that. Now he’s one of my favorite teammates ever.”

For more on Zach Parise and the Islanders, visit AMNY.com