Minnesota Wild Player Previews 2013/2014: Zach Parise


Apr 9, 2013; St. Paul, MN, USA; Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise (11) against the Chicago Blackhawks at the Xcel Energy Center. The Blackhawks defeated the Wild 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

As we await the beginning of the new NHL season, I’ll be previewing each of the players in the Minnesota Wild system who will be on the roster, or competing for a place this year, starting with Zach Parise.

Parise entered his 1st season with the Wild penciled in for the LW position on the 1st line centred by Mikko Koivu. This partnership continued throughout the year and into the playoffs. As a result, their successes and failures tend to go hand-in-hand.

Here are some of his regular season numbers from last year:



As you can see, Parise had a strong year, finishing as the Wild’s top scorer and also contributing heavily on special teams while not missing any time due to injury. He did a lot of heavy-lifting throughout the season, consistently dominating puck possession in the offensive zone and crashing the net shift-after-shift. This clearly took it’s toll as Parise was all but invisible in the playoffs, shut-down by the excellent top line of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Looking at his underlying numbers gives further evidence of how he way a key cog in the Wild’s playoff-charge last year:



Parise, along with his regular linemates, Mikko Koivu and Charlie Coyle, played the toughest competition the opposition had to offer, but also received a higher percentage of offensive zone starts than any other forwards that dressed for the Wild, resulting in them posting very good corsi numbers.

(Click To Enlarge)  (Bubble Size=Corsi On Rating. Blue Bubble=Postive. Red Bubble=Negative)

His numbers suggest that he generated a lot of offence for the team, but suffered from some bad luck at times, registering a PDO of 974.

When Wild GM Chuck Fletcher signed Parise to an expensive 13-year contract last Summer, the expectation was obviously for him to be the team’s franchise player for many, many years to come. In light of that, Parise’s production in 2012/2013 might worry some as to whether he will still be worth that money a few years down the line. He is an excellent player right now for sure, but he comes with a $7,538,462 cap hit every year until 2024-2025 (when he’ll be 42) so a sharp decline in the next couple of years could have dire consequences for the franchise going forward.

Here’s how Parise’s production has trended since he debuted in the NHL back in 2005-2006:

Not counting the outlier that is 2010-2011, when Parise only played a handful of games due to injury, last year was his poorest in terms of production since 2006-2007, his 2nd season in the league.

Looking at this graph, it appears that those two big production season (2008-2009, 2009-2010) were Parise’s peak and that his normal production is more likely to be roughly in the .75-.85 range. Now, it isn’t implausible to think that his production could return to those previous highs again in the near future, but, unfortunately, he is right at the age where NHL players tend to start seeing their production trend downwards.

Last year, Parise shot at the lowest percentage since of his career, besides his injury-ruined 2010-2011. This is somewhat encouraging, as Sh% is largely out of a player’s control, and suggests that he was unlucky. His production would most likely have been similar to last season if his Sh% had not been so low. He should see his Sh% regress to a more normal number next year. Whether this means him shooting at 10% o 12% remains to be seen.

To look a little closer at why Parise’s production has dropped off in the last couple of years, it is clear that he took  more shots in the 2008-2010 period which were, as a result, his best years in terms of production. Ilya Kovalchuck’s arrival in New Jersey at the back-end of the 2009-2010 season could explain why Parise began taking fewer shots, as Kovalchuk became the focal-point of the offence, being a more natural sniper-type forward.

It is encouraging that Parise shot the puck more per game last season than the year before. I think he could have a big year in 2013/2014 if he continues to increase his shot totals and his Sh%  regresses back towards the mean. Other things that could work in his favour are:

  • He’s had a year to build chemistry with Koivu and Coyle, and now is getting a proper offseason and training camp to prepare with them.
  • If Coyle is deployed on a different line, it is possible that Jason Pominville will be the RW on Parise’s line. Playing more minutes with a top level player like him could increase Parise’s numbers.
  • If Mike Yeo can find a way to get the Koivu line away from the other team’s top competition more than he did last year, then Parise and his linemates should find their point totals increase.

His Season Is A Success If…

Parise gets his points per game rate up to around the .90 region and leads the Wild to the playoffs, where he banishes his “playoff demons” and dominates as the team’s #1 forward.


His Season Is A Disappointment If…

His production continues to trend downwards and his albatross of a contract starts to look like a huge error of judgement by the Wild management.

Okay, that’s it for Zach Parise. Next, I’ll be taking a look at Mikko Koivu and previewing his 2013/2014.

*Numbers in this article courtesy of: