There are times that one does not expect it to ever happen. However, a player that was originally out for a few months then potentially out for the season is now very close to a return.
Zach Parise did practice with the New Jersey Devils today and looked a bit winded at times. It is abundantly clear that Parise will not play Friday or Saturday but there is an increasing chance that #9 will return for the New Jersey Devils next Wednesday Night against the New York Islanders.
Think of what this does for fantasy teams everywhere. Most squads gave up Zach Parise for dead. This was what Parise said after today’s practice and thanks to Tom Gulitti once again.
“I guess (it’s) wherever they would want me to play” he said. “I know the lines have been playing really well together. But it’s at the point that I feel like if I tell the I’m ready to play, then I’m ready to play. But it’s a different time of year now where teams are gearing up for the playoffs. The pace is a little higher and, again, it will be up to Jacques when and how much and with who (he plays). At this point, you just want to get in there and play regardless of where you are at in the lineup.”
So now it simply becomes a question of WHEN as far as you, the fantasy owner are concerned, do you insert him in your lineup. It s a valid question. What do you do with a guy who has point a game potential even at 60 to 80 percent?
Step 1: Monitor his practice regimen…
Now so far in the last 3 weeks since Parise was cleared for non-contact and now contact practice, everything has progressed fairly nicely. Is he in game shape? Yes. However, is Parise in Coach Lemaire game shape? That answer is no. Clearly Parise had moments on Thursday where he looked winded but there were times that he was clearly ready go like during stop and start drills. What he has to develop is a considerable amount of stamina that he does not quite possess at the moment.
The hardest thing for a hockey player to assimilate is game speed. Simulated practice scrimmages are not the same ladies and gentlemen and though it is close, it is nowhere near close enough. How Parise does over the weekend and early next week will truly determine first IF he plays next Wednesday and then how much and in what role.
Step 2: When he plays, should I put him in the lineup?
The most obvious answer is yes. With a mid-week start, if you have weekly lineup changes, this is a decision that one may have to think about. However, daily transaction leagues will give you the luxury to take him off your IR list when you want to. The time it takes to assess a GM’s needs is outweighed by this fact. Clearly, Parise is what we call an A+ player. When healthy, Parise is a 90-100 point forward.
Clearly when the Devils say it is a go, you must take the risk and assume he is ready and raring to go. Be quick or be dead in the fantasy playoffs and take the risk.
Step 3: What should you expect?
Here is the big unknown. Parise was playing at maybe 50% and yet he had a point every other game for New Jersey earlier in the season. At this juncture, it appears that Zach Parise is actually more healthy. Would I be surprised if he makes an immediate impact? Not at all. If he plays next Wednesday, Parise would have seven games left in the season. With some back to back situations, he could be rested.
So if he plays 5 or 6 of those 7, he could get an owner 4 or 5 points which could make the difference between winning a league and losing one. Basically, it is welcome back to Zach and fantasy GM’s have to be at least smiling from ear to ear.
Next week we will take a look at the final week and basically ground zero for those in Finals or looking for a higher place in their fantasy leagues. Good luck and do not forget to check out our podcast on Sunday and Wednesday Nights at 8pm ET and to leave some comments and questions for us here. We love to answer them so bring the heat!