A ninth-round selection (No. 264) by the Anaheim Ducks in the 2001 NHL Draft, Parenteau spent seven seasons in the American Hockey League, plus a short stint in the East Coast Hockey League, before landing a regular role in the NHL at the age of 27.
In junior hockey, Parenteau showed strong offensive instincts. In 2001-02 with Chicoutimi in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, the 6-foot, 198-pound forward scored 51 goals and 118 points in 68 games. The following season he was traded to Sherbrooke and finished with a combined 33 goals and 103 points in 59 games, adding eight goals and 19 points in 12 playoff games.