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Islanders and Zach Parise: Fixing an 18-year-old mistake

NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 21: (L to R) David Conte, first round draft pick (#17 overall) Zach Parise, Lou Lamoriello and Claude Carrier of the New Jersey Devils pose for a portrait on stage during the 2003 NHL Entry Draft at the Gaylord Entertainment Center on June 21, 2003 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images/NHLI)
NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 21: (L to R) David Conte, first round draft pick (#17 overall) Zach Parise, Lou Lamoriello and Claude Carrier of the New Jersey Devils pose for a portrait on stage during the 2003 NHL Entry Draft at the Gaylord Entertainment Center on June 21, 2003 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images/NHLI)
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While the signing isn’t actually official yet, it’s clear that the New York Islanders have signed veteran Zach Parise to a contract. By bringing Parise in, the Islanders have finally corrected an 18-year-old mistake.

It was 18 years ago when the Islanders held the 15th overall pick in the 2003 NHL draft. A draft that is widely regarded as one of the deepest drafts ever. And the Isles left the first round with one of only six first-rounders who didn’t hit 300 games in their NHL career.

Left on the board when the Isles stepped up to the podium was University of North Dakota junior Zach Parise. A player the Islanders could have and should have drafted. But didn’t. Now though, he’s finally an Islander.

New York Islanders fixed an 18-year-old mistake

When the Isles pick approached fans had hoped their team would draft the talented offspring of former player JP Parise. JP, who played with the Isles from 1974 through 1977 was brought in as a veteran player who could teach some of their talented youngsters how to be pros and did that job perfectly.

But with their 15th overall pick, Isles GM Mike Milbury took center, Robert Nilsson, out of Sweden. A player that, over his Isles career, played 53 games with 20 points in 2005-06. He was traded the next year for Edmonton Oilers Ryan Smyth. A player that left the Island ASAP. So, Milbury got very little value from that pick.

Since making the NHL Parise has put up (so far) 810 points in 1060 games, 410 of those points came with the Devils who drafted him. It also including two incredible years in 2008-09 and 2009-10 where he scored 83 goals and 176 points in 163 games.

Compare what Nilsson did for the Isles, even add what he produced with the Oilers – 98 points in 199 games – and clearly, the Islanders picked wrong. It’s the type of move where you think “what could have been”?

Now in 2021, with a much older Parise, the Islanders have finally rectified that mistake from 2003. Of course, Parise won’t have the same impact he could have had if the Islanders drafted him 18 years ago, but adding him now is a huge get to bolster their third line and give them the depth scoring they need.

It took a while but finally, the mistake of not making Zach Parise and Islander has been fixed.

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