Avalanche acquire Parise for remainder of season

Sports

Zach Parise is back. And this time it will be with the Colorado Avalanche as the club announced Friday the signing of the 39-year-old winger for the rest of the season.

Parise, who spent the past two years with the New York Islanders, has been without a club since the start of the season. He finished with 21 goals and 13 assists in 82 games in 2022-23, the 11th season of his career of 20 or more goals.

“We’re excited to add Zach to our group,” Avalanche general manager Chris MacFarland said in a statement. “Over his impressive NHL career, Zach has always been a highly competitive and driven forward who is hard to play against. We look forward to adding his veteran presence to our locker room.”

Signing Parise, who has never won a Stanley Cup, for the remainder of the season accomplishes several items for an Avalanche team that is seeking to win its second Cup in the past three years.

Arguably the most pivotal issue facing the Avalanche in their bid to win another title has been the lack of secondary scoring. It proved to be among the reasons for their failure to defend their title last season as they were ousted in the first round of the playoffs. It was something MacFarland and his front office quickly moved to address in the offseason when they acquired Ross Colton, Jonathan Drouin, Ryan Johansen and Miles Wood.

Their arrivals became even more vital with the Avalanche starting the season without captain Gabriel Landeskog, who sustained a right knee injury that has required two surgeries, the most recent coming in May. The last time the 31-year-old played for the Avs was during their Cup run in 2022. Earlier this month, he skated with the Avs with the understanding that he is nowhere close to returning to game action.

Stars such as Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar and Mikko Rantanen have continued to provide scoring punch for the Avalanche. MacKinnon leads the Avs and is second in the NHL with 82 points. Rantanen is second on the team in points while Makar is third.

Although their secondary scoring has been elusive at times this season, the Avalanche still entered Friday’s action with eight players who have each scored more than 10 goals and eight players with 20 or more points.

Parise could also help the Avalanche potentially fill part of the void left by Valeri Nichushkin in their lineup. The hulking, two-way winger, who has 22 goals and 20 assists this season, stepped away from the team on Jan. 15 to enter the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program for an indefinite period.

Entering Friday, the Avalanche (31-14-3) were in second place in the Central Division. They were tied with the first-place Winnipeg Jets on points, but the Jets have played two fewer games. The Avs are also four points behind the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy having last won the award during the 2021-22 season, the same year they won their third Stanley Cup.

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