GRAND FORKS, N.D. — North Dakota’s premature elimination from the NCAA tournament is good news, apparently, for the New Jersey Devils’ playoff drive. Hobey Baker Award finalist Zach Parise has left school to sign a three-year deal with the Devils, thus foregoing his final two years of college eligibility.
According to North Dakota coach Dean Blais, in a radio interview this morning, Parise signed a three-year deal worth over $4 million.
“Zach Parise has been one of the top collegiate players in the country over the past two seasons, as well as one of the top players in the past two World Junior tournaments,” said Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello, one time college coach at Providence. “He is the type of player who is as good defensively as he is offensively. We look forward to him joining the New Jersey Devils organization.”
Parise, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound center who was drafted 17th overall by the Devils in the June 2003 NHL draft, played two seasons at North Dakota where he won the 2003-04 WCHA regular-season championship and made two NCAA appearances. His college career ended with Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Denver in the West Regional final of the NCAA tournament.
This past season, Parise was UND’s second-leading scorer, with 55 points (23 goals, 32 assists) in 37 games. He led the Sioux in scoring as a freshman with 61 points (26 goals, 35 assists) in 39 games. Parise became the third-fastest player in school history to score 100 career points when he reached that milestone in his 66th career game. He is one of just five UND players (Perry Berezan, Ben Cherski, Troy Murray and Doug Smail) to score 20 goals in both his freshman and sophomore season.
A top 10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Award the past two seasons, Parise was a first team All-WCHA selection this season after being named to the third team and All-WCHA Rookie Team in 2003. Parise was named to the 2004 NCAA West Region all-tournament team as well as the 2004 WCHA Final Five all-tournament team.
Parise led all NCAA rookies in scoring in 2003 with a 1.56 point per game average.
The past two seasons, Parise has played for Team USA at the World Junior Hockey Championships, and this year he led the United States to its first-ever gold medal in the tournament and was named the tournament’s most valuable player and most outstanding forward.
Prior to enrolling at UND, Parise played four seasons at Shattuck-St. Mary’s Prep School, where he scored 73 goals and had 101 assists as a senior.
Parise is the son of former NHL forward J.P. Parise, who played 13 seasons with Boston, Toronto, Minnesota, Cleveland and the New York Islanders. Zach’s brother, Jordan, was a freshman goaltender for the Sioux this past season.