The puzzle pieces are coming together.
Zach Parise was introduced as the newest member of the New York Islanders on Friday, ahead of the quickly approaching 2021-22 campaign.
In a lot of ways, it's a bit of a homecoming, or full-circle resolution, for the 37-year-old winger, who joins the Islanders after seven seasons with the New Jersey Devils (2005-12) and his most recent stretch of nine seasons (2012-21) with the Minnesota Wild.
For starters, Parise's father, Jean-Paul or 'J.P.,' spent parts of four seasons with the Islanders from 1975 to 1978 when the team was on the precipice of its dynasty run. Parise's own professional career commenced in 2003, when he was selected 17th overall in the NHL Entry Draft by New Jersey, where current Islanders President and General Manager Lou Lamoriello was at the helm.
So when the opportunity presented itself this summer, Parise pounced.
"I've just been watching the team from afar," Parise said via his Zoom availability on Friday afternoon. "Knowing Lou for a long time, I just thought that it would be a good fit. Of course, it was a tough decision. I just felt [after] watching the team play that I would fit in there."
During his time in New Jersey and under Lamoriello, Parise produced some of his highest offensive numbers of his 16-year NHL career, highlighted by his career-best 45-goal and 94-point season in 2008-09. In his tenure with the Devils, the left-shot winger played with current Islanders' defenseman Andy Greene for six years in New Jersey, which featured a trip to the 2012 Stanley Cup Final.
That familiarity to the structure and discipline of Lamoriello-orchestrated teams played a factor in his decision over this offseason.
"You always feel that there's a certain way that Lou's teams play," Parise said. "The way they compete from top-to-bottom, they always play the game the right way and that was always the case in New Jersey.
"The competitiveness that they have up and down the lineup," Parise continued. "I feel like that's always been one of my traits and one of my best assets, is that competitiveness. That part will mesh really well. Just from watching them the past few years in the playoffs seemed really familiar to me with that style of hockey that we played in New Jersey. I always enjoyed my time and played well out there so for me, in my mind, it felt like it would be a good place for me."
The Minneapolis, MN native is also thrilled to be united with his home-state pals of Brock Nelson and captain Anders Lee as well as with former Wild teammate Cal Clutterbuck. As he looks to join the Islanders veteran core and infiltrate the forward group, Parise is excited for the fresh start and opportunity to fill a role in the lineup.
And with 1,060 NHL games and 810-career points (393G, 417A) under his belt, he knows he has a lot to offer the Islanders on and off the ice.
"I view myself as being able to contribute on the offense," Parise said. "But more importantly, being a piece of the puzzle and fitting in with that team. They've already established themselves as one of the best teams in the leagues, making it to the conference finals the last couple of years. You want to be a piece of that puzzle. I know my age, but I still know that I can play the game, score goals and be a part of some offense. That part has never wavered."
Video: Availability 9/10: Zach Parise
As training camp approaches in the coming weeks, followed by preseason contests, Parise is looking forward to the reunion with some familiar faces and continuing to follow in his father's footsteps. As far as becoming reacquainted with his new teammates, what better way than to get things started with a 13-game road trip before the November unveiling of the Islanders' new home at UBS Arena.
"Any time you're going to move into a state-of-the-art rink, that's an exciting time," Parise said. "We had the same thing in New Jersey, where we had just moved into the Prudential Center and had to start nine [games] on the road. It's a similar situation. I just think for the fan base, for the players, to finally get that new building out on Long Island is going to be exciting for everyone. Just with where the team is at and now, to get a new building to add to all of that excitement everyone should be looking forward to that."