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My Draft Day: Zach Parise

by Eric Marin / New Jersey Devils
Parise on draft day with David Conte, Devils Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations and Director of Scouting.

Zach Parise’s draft day experience threw him for a loop.

Fresh off of his superb freshman season at North Dakota (WCHA), many had the Faribault, Minn., native projected to go top 10 at the 2003 Entry Draft in Nashville.

NHL Central Scouting ranked him ninth among North American skaters. "He lacks size, but so did his father (former NHLer J.P.), who made up for it with a tireless work ethic," read Parise's prospect capsule. "Some scouts believe he's one of the best prospects to come out of college in years."

After 10 selections, though, Parise was still available. As the draft continued, Parise had a hunch he might land in San Jose or Long Island. But those picks came and went, and his wait dragged on.

Once the Devils, who had just won their third Stanley Cup, traded up to 17 from 22, Parise suspected he was Jersey-bound.

The Devils' move paid off. By his NHL fourth season, Parise would challenge the franchise's single-season marks for goals and points, lighting the lamp 45 times en route to a career-high 94-point showing.

He's been a bright star on the international stage as well, scoring the last-minute goal against Canada that forced overtime in the 2010 Olympic gold medal game.

With the Devils set to pick fourth overall at the 2011 Entry Draft at Xcel Energy Center on June 24, we caught up with Parise to find out what he remembered about his draft day.

What are your memories of that day?
It was long, I remember that because there’s all those rankings that come out and I was supposed to be top 10, top 12, I think it was. Then once those picks passed I was kind of waiting and waiting. Then you get to teams that interviewed you and you thought the interviews went really well. There’s a team that after the interview you thought they’d be picking you for sure and then they (the Sharks) ended up having two picks before and I didn’t end up getting picked on either one of them.

It just kind of gets long and frustrating, and then after a while… you go there so excited and then you just want to get it over with as I kept sliding down. I thought for sure I was going to get picked by the Islanders with the [15th] pick. Just from my dad playing there I thought for sure, but that didn’t happen either. I kind of had a feeling once the Devils made the trade (acquiring Edmonton’s first-round pick for St. Louis’ first-rounder and a second-rounder), I kind of had a feeling that I was going to get picked then. It was just a weird feeling that I had.

At that point, is the feeling one of excitement or relief?
It’s more just relief. You’re glad it’s over with. All the anticipation and everything, you’re just glad it’s done with, then you just look forward to moving on. I knew I was coming back to college, there wasn’t any question about that. I was going back to school for another year, but it’s a pretty cool thing going on the stage and meeting all the management and things like that. It’s pretty fun.

What’s the celebration like once that process is over?
It was fun. The Devils had just won the Cup, so they had a ballroom in one of the hotels and we got invited back to that. They had the Cup there and everything and we got to hang out there. I had some friends and family with me so after that we just took off and hung out with a friend that I brought out there.

So you get drafted and get to see the Stanley Cup… not bad.
Yeah that was pretty cool. I was kind of surprised when I walked in the room to see that it was already in there – it was pretty neat.

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