He saw the press box near the end of the regular season and for much of the playoffs, but when he got in, he was quite effective. Perhaps Minnesota fans should get used to this feeling as this may be the way the rest of Zach Parise’s tenure with the organization goes.

Both sides are downplaying how big a concern this is and Parise says he wants to stick with the team, but this will need to be addressed this offseason, because, make no mistake, Parise isn’t happy with a diminished fourth-line role. Michael Russo of The Athletic writes: “He has not asked to be traded or bought out of the final four years of his contract, but at this point, it wouldn’t be shocking if he’d be willing to accept either so he could start new elsewhere.” GM Bill Guerin said he sympathizes with Parise. He notes:

Guerin said he’s empathetic to the transition Parise, who turns 37 in July, is enduring.

“Hey, look: Dean and I both played. We get it. We both grew old, too. These guys are all human beings. They all have emotions. They all feel. When you do play guys, when you cut ice time or when you healthy scratch ‘em, yeah, they’re not happy. We know that. We expect that, and we expect them to fight back. When Zach got back in the lineup, we fully wanted him to try to prove us wrong, and he did to some extent, and he came back improved.

Parise showed flashes of brilliance when slotted into the Wild lineup, but there’s still a sense that the Wild don’t have long-term plans for him. That’s a problem considering he’s locked in on a lengthy contract at a high dollar value.

Parise has informed the team he wants to return next season and he shared that sentiment with the media after his exit interview for the season. It will be interesting to see if he has a more productive start to next year and if that feeling changes. Guerin says that Parise has been told he put himself in a good position for next season and no one is assuming he’ll start on the fourth line. At the same time, every player needs to be flexible.

Parise Has Little Choice

Hopefully, Parise comes back and is productive enough to be the regular contributor he’d like to be. If that doesn’t happen, he might not have much choice but to accept his fate as someone who could come in and out of the lineup.

The team isn’t keen on the idea of buying him out and there aren’t going to be many takers on the trade market with his salary being what it is. Four more years at $7.8 million isn’t something teams will want to take on. Heck, even if the Wild were to retain 50% of his salary, at the age of 36, $3.9 million for Parise is probably an overpay with what’s remaining on his deal.

There are things Parise can offer a Wild team that is looking to take additional steps and surprised many this season with how well they played. At the same time, this situation is not ideal. The player wasn’t happy with his role, the team wants him to be patient with four years left and no team is going to step up and get in the middle of this.

This article first appeared on NHL Trade Talk and was syndicated with permission.

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