The "door is always open" for Zach Parise to return to the New York Islanders.
That was the message from GM Lou Lamoriello when he spoke to the media in September at the start of rookie camp. After the summer came and went without Parise making a decision, the update was that he would not be joining the team for training camp, but hadn't made the decision to retire.
Now, according to Chris Johnston of The Athletic, in a story about unsigned free agents, he states that Parise has resumed skating to build up his fitness. When the 39-year-old Parise last met with the media on May 1st after the Islanders' first-round exit in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, he said it would likely be "here or nowhere" as in Long Island if he were to play this season.
While the Islanders brought back forwards Pierre Engvall, Hudson Fasching and signed Julian Gauthier as a free agent, they didn't exactly replace his spot on the third line, where he scored 21 goals last year in his 18th NHL season. Even with the return of Oliver Wahlstrom, who has yet to make his season debut after his knee injury last December, Parise's presence would be an upgrade.
If Parise is coming back, it's because he loves the game (obviously), but also that he thinks the Islanders have a chance at making a deep playoff run for a chance at a Stanley Cup. If you were to target a December or early January return, it would benefit the Islanders to be in a playoff spot around the all important Thanksgiving marker in the season.
As much as he enjoyed his time on Long Island and how strong his relationship is with the Lamoriello, you have to believe if he's coming back, it's to chase that elusive Cup. The Islanders have to do their part and prove they will be in a position for that chase to happen.