NY Islanders: Zach Parise 'skating hard' at home in Minnesota; is a return near?

Philadelphia Flyers v New York Islanders
Philadelphia Flyers v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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The New York Islanders, despite what 'expert' power rankings say, are the hottest team in the NHL, winners of four straight and have points in 13 of their last 14 games (9-1-4). After a seven-game winless streak consisting of regrettable losses, the Islanders have found ways to avoid giving away points and win games late in the third period or in overtime.

This recent stretch has them in second place in the Metropolitan Division and has greatly increased their odds of a playoff spot come April. As the likelihood of the Islanders being a playoff team increases, so does the chances of Zach Parise returning with a realistic chance of chasing the Stanley Cup that has eluded him throughout his career.

SportNet's Elliotte Friedman mentioned Parise in his most recent 32 Thoughts column, making it sound more likely that the 39-year-old is ramping up for a return. "Not sure yet what it means for an NHL return, but Zach Parise’s been skating pretty hard in Minnesota. I assume, when ready, it will be the Islanders," Friedman wrote.

Back on May 1st, when Parise met with the media 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. A pre-requisite for that hypothetical would be, of course, whether Parise felt the Islanders could make a deep playoff run if he were to join the team in early 2024.

Parise scored 21 goals in his 18th NHL season and GM Lou Lamoriello told him that door would remain open to him for a return on Long Island. The team went out and signed Julien Gauthier who has been getting time on the third line in recent weeks and Simon Holmstrom has asserted himself as a ket part of the team moving forward. If Parise does return, it would be at someone's expense, though more forward depth would be a good problem to have for Lane Lambert and his staff.