A line of Parise-Pageau-Wahlstrom could be dynamite for Islanders this season

As we continue to sift through the dog days of August before talk of training camp begins, things continue to remain extremely quiet on the Islanders’ front. But that doesn’t mean it’s never a bad thing to look ahead.

I wrote earlier this week Zach Parise is primed to have a bounce-back season wherever he’s suiting up. It’s all but confirmed he will be an Islander, despite the team still not providing any formal announcement. Once the Isles do make his signing official, things will shift to where he’s used by head coach Barry Trotz in the lineup.

Several projections have Parise slotting in on the third line as the Isles’ top-six, barring another trade or signing, looks all but set with Anders Lee, Mathew Barzal, Kyle Palmieri (also re-signed), Brock Nelson, Josh Bailey and Anthony Beauvillier. If that is indeed the role he’s given, Parise will most likely be linemates along with J.G. Pageau and Oliver Wahlstrom.

Having those three on a line together has the chance to add a big boost to the Islanders’ attack.

Pageau is coming into this year fully healthy after he suffered an injury in the playoffs. He was a force for the Islanders before a broken hand compromised his ability to contribute. Wahlstrom will too be back on the mend after suffering a setback in the Penguins series that kept him out the rest of the postseason. This will be his second season after a solid rookie campaign where he tallied 21 points in 44 games. He is expected to be a full-time regular and one of the Islanders’ more prominent scoring threats with Jordan Eberle departing for Seattle. Parise, as stated already, is motivated to find his game again after having the last four years of his contract bought out by his hometown Minnesota Wild.

Wahlstrom and Pageau already have chemistry going back to last season when the freshman forward was inserted next to the Ottawa native during the Isles’ hot streak in March. They meshed really well together and gave the Islanders a solid one-two punch outside their top-nine. There was an even stronger connection in the postseason before Wahlstrom went down. And they like each other.

“His attitude is top-notch on and off the ice,” Pageau said about Wahlstrom during the year. “He’s doing the right things and paying attention to all the details and that’s how you get better… He’s doing everything possible to be apart of this team.”

“My guy. He’s just awesome,” was how Wahlstrom described Pageau. “He’s a guy I really look up to and I love being around him.”

The addition of Parise though adds another intriguing factor. He will bring some much-needed offense to a line usually considered the checking line. Everyone can point to his disappointing campaign last year — 18 points in 45 games — but he’s still a capable contributor.

Prior to last year, Parise combined for 53 goals from 2018 to 2020.

What also should be acknowledged: Wahlstrom will also have the opportunity to learn from one of the best veterans in the league.

Pageau is a great mentor to have, but Parise held the captaincy during his tenure in New Jersey, where ironically he was under the watch of current Islanders boss Lou Lamoriello. He was also an assistant for many years with the Wild. That kind of experience will be vital for Wahlstrom, who is still has a ton of room to grow.

As a whole, the Pageau-Wahlstrom-Parise trio has all the makings of a very being very effective if formed. Each player brings something different to the table.

The Islanders offense is expected to be better from previous years, and these three can be a big part of it.

 

 

 

 

Islanders will be getting a re-energized Zach Parise this season

We’re still waiting for the Islanders to announce several other key signings this offseason, including Zach Parise.

It’s all but confirmed that Parise, 36, will be donning an Isles sweater when training camp opens next month. Several reports on the first day of free agency last month had the free agent forward signing with the Islanders on a short-term deal.

The prospect of Parise coming to Long Island has Islander fans excited. For him, he is also anticipating this being a big year in 2021-22.

“I haven’t been this excited heading into a season in a while,” Parise told NHL.com’s Jessi Pierce last night after participating in his state’s summer hockey league, DaBeauty League, for the first time this summer while also not acknowledging who will be playing for. “I’ve been here for a long time and sometimes a change of scenery is good.”

 

Parise is coming off a trying year with his hometown Minnesota Wild, which led to the organization buying out the rest of his contract. He and d-man Ryan Suter, whom the Isles had interest in but ended up taking a deal in Dallas, had four years remaining on their identical 13-year contracts they both agreed to with the Wild back in 2012.

The shock of being bought out stuck with Parise in the days that followed, but as he acknowledged to Pierce things got “really good” shortly thereafter.  Note: Reading between the lines from that statement, it probably indicates Islanders’ general manager Lou Lamoirello — the person who drafted him to New Jersey back in 2003 — quickly reached out to him to Parise to talk about him playing for the organization this coming season. TSN’s Bob McKenzie did note that Parise vistied Long Island in the days prior to free agency opening.

Parise feeling that way though should be a good sign for the Islanders and their supporters that they aren’t just getting a motivated player, but a re-energized one as well. He is expected to be a sizable upgrade to the team’s bottom-six and add another weapon to the power play. Beyond that, the Islanders are hoping he is one of the last remaining pieces to a championship puzzle after falling in the third round the past two postseasons. The 16-year veteran has long been coveted by Lamoriello for a couple years now, and came close to joining the team at the trade deadline two years ago before the trade never fell through.

With the Islanders expected to be good again this year, getting an enthused Zach Parise into the fold could pay big dividends. He sounds like he wants to make an immediate impact, which, should also be music to fans’ ears.

 

One element Zach Parise would bring to the Islanders no one has yet to mention

The Islanders’ offseason just got a bit more interesting in the last 24 hours and it wasn’t even them who were involved.

Yesterday, the Minnesota Wild announced they were buying out the contracts of veterans Zach Parise and Ryan Suter thus making them free agents at the end of this month.

Both players had the same years remaining on their identical 13-year, 98M deals they signed back in 2012.

It was a shocking move to say the least, especially after the Wild took steps in the right direction this year and pushed the Vegas Golden Knights to seven games in the first round of the playoffs. But now Parise and Suter, both 36 years of age, have the chance to find new homes.

There’s already speculation that the Isles could be a potential suitor for either player or both for that matter. A source told amNewYork’s Joe Pantorno this morning that he wouldn’t be surprised if the Islanders make a run at Parise. The Isles did try to acquire him already from Minnesota at the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline but the deal never fell through.

Obviously, the connection is there between the player and the organization. The Islanders might also have an even slighter advantage with current g.m. Lou Lamoriello being the one who drafted Parise to New Jersey back in 2003.

If Parise and the Isles were to agree to a cheap deal, it could be a huge win. He would help in some areas the team has been still lacking, mainly the bottom six and scoring (he was still averaging over 40-plus points before this season). Aside from that, there’s another part of Parise’s game that could have the most impact for the Islanders: the power play.

For years, Parise has been one of the more underrated power play specialists in the league. He hold’s claim as the Wild’s franchise leader in power play goals with 69.

In two of the last three seasons, Parise recorded 22 goals on the man-advantage. Compare that to the Islanders who as a team combined for just 21 from their power play goal leaders in that time — Anders Lee with 10 in ’18-’19, Mathew Barzal with 4 in ’19-’20 and Brock Nelson with seven this season — and you see where he could be a crucial addition.

Parise has the skill to be both a shooter and a net front presence. A combination like that could give the Isles a huge boost, even if they do have guys who already play that role in Anders Lee and Oliver Wahlstrom.

But think of the first word: shooter. Parise would give head coach Barry Trotz and power play boss Jim Hiller another weapon at their disposal for good measure. Ditto someone like Mathew Barzal, who has a pass-first mentality.

It’s been blatantly clear the Islanders don’t shoot enough. It’s one element that’s made them an enigma for what seems forever. If not that, it’s played a part in costing them a chance at winning a Stanley Cup. Against the Lightning in the semifinal, the Isles went 1-for-17 with the power play which was a repeat performance of the previous year against the very same team.

Having another weapon like Parise could have made a huge difference just in that department alone.

The Islanders are very close to winning it all and Parise would be a solid addition. His ability to have success on the power play might be one factor no one has spotlighted enough. The Isles would benefit immensely from that kind of added presence.

 

 

 

 

 

New York Islanders: Is Zach Parise Still an Option?

Zach Parise, New York Islanders

For those who don’t know, the New York Islanders tried to acquire forward Zach Parise from the Minnesota Wild at the trade deadline. The deal was, or so we believe, Andrew Ladd and Sebastian Aho for Zach Parise. Everything was falling into place; both forwards waived their no-move clause. Why did the deal fall apart again? Notice how I said again. The Islanders tried trading for Parise during the last offseason. The deal has fallen apart twice, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Parise wants to be an Islander, and the Wild are willing to take Ladd. How can the two sides get this deal done?

Retaining Salary

It’s no secret that Zach Parise has a huge contract. $7.5 million for the next five years. It’s definitely an overpay, and the Islanders don’t have cap space to overpay another player. Sending Andrew Ladd back the other way would still only take off $5.5 million of this deal. Lou Lamoriello definitely wants Bill Guerin to retain some of Parise’s salary. Remember, the Islanders have to resign Mat Barzal, Ryan Pulock, and Devon Toews. And the Islanders are low on cap space; the Wild must retain some of Parise’s contract.

More Talent

Zach Parise is miles ahead of Andrew Ladd in terms of talent. Parise recorded 25 goals and 21 assists while being 36 years of age. Andrew Ladd hasn’t seen those kinds of stats since 2014 in Winnipeg. Ladd has only played 30 games in the last two years. There will be another prospect and/or draft pick going back to the Wild. For the sake of argument, let’s say the Islanders send Travis St. Denis and a 4th round pick back the other way. Denis is a solid AHLer who could crack the Wild’s roster for sure. And a 4th round pick is a 4th round pick; it could be literally anything. It’s not the best package, but it’s the only one the Wild will get.

Conclusion

The Islanders would be even more dangerous with Zach Parise on the wing. He’s a solid 3rd line option for a team that needs a 3rd line winger. This is a deal Islander, and Wild fans must look out for in the offseason.