It took until Game No.40, but winger Zach Parise will finally make his season debut Tuesday when the Wild hosts the Panthers to begin an abbreviated two-game homestand.
“All looks good, and I’ve got the green light,” Parise said.
Parise had been sidelined by leg pain and weakness from a herniated disc in his back; he underwent microdiscectomy surgery in late October and felt immediate relief after dealing with the back issue last season.
He had resumed skating in November and rejoined practice last month. Last week, he went on a conditioning stint to the American Hockey League and played a game with the Iowa Wild – his first since April 22.
“I feel ready,” he said.
To facilitate Parise’s activation from long-term injured reserve, the Wild placed winger Zack Mitchell on waivers Monday and if he clears, he’ll be assigned to Iowa Tuesday.
During Monday’s session, Parise skated on the left side of center Charlie Coyle with Chris Stewart filling out the line. Captain Mikko Koivu centered wingers Joel Eriksson Ek and Mikael Granlund, wingers Jason Zucker and Tyler Ennis worked with center Eric Staal and Matt Cullen anchored a fourth line that included wingers Marcus Foligno and Daniel Winnik.
On defense, Ryan Suter remained with Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin was alongside Matt Dumba and Mike Reilly was back next to Nate Prosser, as Gustav Olofsson rotated in.
Winger Nino Niederreiter (lower-body injury) wasn't on the ice but if he gets through Wednesay's practice fine, he could be back in the lineup Thursday against the Sabres.
Practice Monday was designed to get Parise familiar with contact after such a long layoff from NHL action, but the message to Wild players was also to crash the net – a tactic that might help reignite the offense after it was shut out Saturday by the Predators.
“We gotta be a harder-nosed team I think around that net,” Coyle said. “Usually it’s not the first one that goes in but to get traffic, it’s hard for that goalie and those D-men to box you out for that long. … I think we play that way, we’re gonna get more types of those goals and we’ll see more goals going in.”