Parise’s Path to the NHL


Credit: Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

He’s arguably one of the most well-known American players currently active in the NHL; the former captain of the New Jersey Devils has represented his country in a number of international tournaments and is now a member of the Minnesota Wild – but Zach Parise’s hockey success began years ago with the University of North Dakota.

Parise, now 28, was born in Minneapolis on July 28, 1984. Just about 16 years later, he began playing hockey at Shattuck-St. Mary’s, a boarding school in Minnesota that’s also seen the likes of Sidney Crosby and Drew Stafford come through its ranks.

In his first season with the team, Parise had 69 goals and 93 assists for 162 points in just 58 games. The next year, at the age of 17, his numbers only got better: 178 points (77-101) in 67 games with the Shattuck-St. Mary’s team.

It was then, at the age of 17, that Zach Parise began representing the United States on the hockey platform, first joining the U.S. National Team Development Program for a dozen games in 2001-02. He had fourteen points and six penalty minutes in his time there before winning a gold medal with the United States at the 2002 World U-18 Championships, held in Slovakia. Parise had seven goals and three assists in eight games during the tournament.

Later that year, at the age of 18, Parise joined the University of North Dakota’s WCHA team. He recorded a hat trick in his first game with UND, becoming the first player to do since 1988, and ended up with 61 points in 39 games that season.

He also played for Team USA in the World Juniors that year, scoring eight points in seven games, and was later drafted by the NHL’s New Jersey Devils with the 17th overall selection in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.

Parise’s sophomore season with UND would prove even better than the first. Despite his numbers not being quite as high – 55 points in 37 games – Parise and his team were the WCHA Regular Season Champions. He was named one of ten nominees for the Hobey Baker and received a number of accolades, including the Cliff Purpur Award.

Following up on his U-18 gold medal status, Parise also won a gold medal with Team USA at the 2004 World Junior Championships, scoring 11 points in six tournament games.

After this, Parise joined the AHL’s Albany River Rats for 73 games in 2004-05, scoring 18 goals and 40 assists for 58 points in 73 games. He made the Devils roster the following season, making his NHL debut with the team and scoring his first NHL goal – the game-winner – on October 5, 2005 against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

His rookie season would see him score 32 points in 81 games; since then, he’s had least 62 points in each of the following seasons. The lone exception to this is the 2010-11 season, when he missed 69 games after tearing his meniscus in his right knee.

His career-high season to date was the 2008-09 season, when Parise scored 45 goals and 49 assists for 94 points in 82 regular season games with the Devils. Following that, he was named an alternate captain for the team before being named captain in 2011.

All in all, Parise played seven seasons with New Jersey until his contract expired on July 4, 2012. Free agency led to him sign a 13-year contract with his hometown Minnesota Wild, who shortly after named him an alternate captain.

He’s played five games with the Wild so far, scoring at least a point in each game; in this young and shortened season, Parise already has nine points, tied for sixth in the league.

Parise and the Wild (2-2-1) will next face off against the Columbus Blue Jackets (1-3-1) on January 29.