The New Jersey Devils are a mathematical longshot to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but they still intend to have Zach Parise back playing before the end of the regular season.
Parise practiced with the team Thursday before the Devils left for Pittsburgh, and according to a report in the Newark Star-Ledger GM Lou Lamoriello told beat writer Rich Chere that barring any setbacks Parise will play again at some point.
"He will play this season, unless there is something unforeseen that happens," Lamoriello told the paper.
The Ledger reported Parise skated on a line with Adam Mair and David Steckel at practice Thursday. It's unknown how soon he might return to the lineup. The Devils play the Penguins on Friday.
"He's on a time frame, let's put it that way," Lamoriello told the Star-Ledger.
Parise, who had surgery Nov. 2 to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee, played in only 12 games this season, recording 3 goals and 6 points. His injury, and the ineffective play of Ilya Kovalchuk after signing a lucrative long-term contract, were seen as major reasons why the Devils stumbled to a 10-29-2 record over the first half of the season, with rookie coach John MacLean getting fired just before Christmas.
But Kovalchuk and the Devils turned it around in the second half, leading to the possibility Parise might return in time to help the team complete a miracle run to the postseason. The Devils are nine points behind the eighth-place Sabres with only nine games remaining.
Parise, who will become a restricted free agent after this season, is a four-time 30-goal scorer who reached career highs during the 2008-09 season with 45 goals and 94 points. He also played for the U.S. Olympic team in Vancouver, scoring the game-tying goal in the final minute of the gold-medal game against Canada.